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Guest Blog: Building a Brand for Women


Recently, Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. kindly agreed to make a Facebook post on behalf of TOUGHER – the new brand of women’s workwear I am launching. The post explained that I am looking for a more authentic ‘fit model’ – a woman who works in skilled trades to critique the fit of our workpants and put them through the paces to learn how they perform in the field. In the post, I also included a link to a survey to ask other questions that will guide decision making in regards to fabric color. As a startup, I will be limited in the array of colors I can purchase ahead of manufacturing, and I would like the first pant to be the most desirable color.

To the women on OTI’s Facebook page who took the time to leave comments or fill out our survey – thank you! It is clear that women in skilled trades are as frustrated as I am with the poor fit and few options in the current workwear options for women. In fact, this is the very reason I founded TOUGHER in 2015!

The measurements we asked for our fit model was a hot button issue for some, and I certainly understand why! I have found that of the 400 women I have interviewed nationwide, the silhouettes of women’s bodies vary widely and sizing is a common source of angst. I commonly receive impassioned requests from women for shorter/longer inseams; garments cut for curvy/no-curves women, and everything in between. It makes perfect sense. There is no set shape and size for women, either!

My strategy to address this has been to collect body measurements from women in trades or DIYers on which to base TOUGHER’s sizing and fit. To date, my patternmaker and I have identified at least two fit styles to create for our consumers during our first phase (curvy/athletic and straight-cut). We also made the decision to buck the national apparel company trend by refusing to make our mid-point a size 4 or 6.  Instead, we selected what may be regarded as a size 8 or 10 as the mid-point for the fit model, and then our sizes can be expanded up or down for the other sizes. It’s important to note that we will be using the same commonsense sizing men have long enjoyed, which uses exact waist and inseam measurements. Vanity sizing has no place with TOUGHER. Our women are practical and precise in their fields, and so are we.


That initial Facebook post on OTI’s page seeking a fit model did not yield anyone in the Portland, Oregon area. Yet, despite the difficulty of finding women in skilled trades who are willing to prototype our garments, we will continue to press on until she steps forward! (Hint hint…). An easier path would be to simply hire a professional fit model as many other brands do. However, this person would not represent the women we serve. Women in the trades put their apparel through its paces day in and day out at 10+ hours each work day. The women we serve have muscles from squatting, lifting, dragging, and carrying equipment, livestock, and the like. They gain, lose, and maintain weight depending on the season, terrain, project, and time of the month. Therefore, our fit for women who work with their hands will likely be different from everyday apparel.

In short, we are striving for authenticity in not only what products we offer women, but even how we size those products. Our success in this depends on women willing to step forward and share what they need. Large companies are difficult to communicate with and prompt change from. TOUGHER is different.

Help us build a brand women are served well by. We’re listening and we very much want to hear from you!

Thank you,

Stacey Gose
Founder & CEO, TOUGHER

[email protected]  |  weartougher.com  |  @weartougher





Posted on by OTI Staff in Guest Blog | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: The Growing Force of Women Contractors in Construction

The Growing Force of Women Contractors in Construction
By Guest Blogger Kaitlin Krull

While our country is making extraordinary strides towards gender equality in the workplace, there are several job sectors in which women are historically regarded as inferior to men. Construction is seen as a man’s domain—forcing women to struggle to land jobs and succeed as contractors and builders. But we at Home Improvement Leads are thankful that times are changing as the battle for equality continues. More and more women are breaking into the male dominated construction world and are thereby changing the way we think of trades. Here are just a few of the ways that women are making their mark on construction.



As of 2013, 18.74% of the U.S. solar workforce was made up of women. Although this figure is far higher than the national average for construction in general (the National Association of Women in Construction and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate that as of 2015 only 9.3% of all workers in the construction industry are women) and women make up the highest percentage of minority employment for solar, one could argue that there is a long way to go before achieving total gender equality here. However, organizations such as Women in Solar Energy (WISE) strive to close this gap through networking, funding, advocacy, and the common goal of equality in the solar energy industry.



The highly technical field of HVAC has garnered significant support for women and minority workers in recent years. Women in HVACR, a national organization for women in the HVAC industry, has been around for over 12 years and offers opportunities for women to network and further their industrial education through forums, classes, and annual conferences.



Like its HVAC counterpart, National Women in Roofing is a national organization supporting women in the U.S. roofing industry through social media networking and further education. NWIR is currently steadily growing in membership and, with sponsorship and support, hopes to continue the growing trend of women in roofing for years to come. Further information about women roofing contractors can be found at this webinar with the founder of NWIR.



Window installers and glaziers have one of the most difficult and dangerous construction jobs in the U.S. today. Although the stress and risk levels for window contractors are relatively high, this industry remains number nine on the list of best construction jobs. Perhaps this is why more women are being drawn to the profession now than ever before. The success of women like Nicole Harris, the current President and CEO of the National Glass Association, demonstrates that women can and should be at the forefront of the window industry.

Conclusion: Traditional homemaker vs Modern home-maker?

The construction industry is booming, and women are making themselves known in fields across the sector. National bodies for solar, HVAC, roofing, and glaziers provide communication and education opportunities for women contractors all over the country, ensuring they get the tools and support they need to succeed in a male dominated field.

Women contractors throughout the country are acting as pioneers in the construction industry —including local PDX business owners like Holly Huntley at Environs and Megan at Eight Penny Nail. If these positive trends continue, women will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in the construction world and pave the way to an unified and equal future workplace.

Posted on by OTI Staff in Career Path, Guest Blog, tradeswomen | Leave a comment

The Portland Tribune Highlights the Experiences of Tradeswomen


Portland Tribune reporter, Peter Korn, contacted OTI’s Communications Manager, Mary Ann Naylor, around the middle of June, 2016. He was working on a story exploring the terms misogyny and sexism, and how women in different occupations might experience either or both on the job. One of the people he was interviewing for his story about misogyny suggested that he really needed to get the perspective of tradeswomen, so he called Mary Ann.

Mary Ann referred Peter to Jenna Smith, an OTI TACC Graduate who attained her journeyman card as a power line tree trimmer, and later – after a fight – attained a second journey man card as a lineworker. After speaking with Jenna about her experiences, he was ignited to share her story more fully. Peter contacted Mary Ann to let her know he was embarking on another journalistic project to document some of the experiences of tradeswomen into a multi-part story to run in consecutive weeks. Mary Ann was, of course, more than happy to support the development of these stories by connecting him to tradeswomen, industry contacts, and providing photos to help fully tell the stories.

Oregon Tradeswomen is incredibly thankful to Mr. Korn for his thoroughness and attention to detail in developing these pieces. These are important stories and many have never been shared publicly before now.

Week 1:  Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Is today’s misogyny a ‘different, darker animal,’ or more of same ‘ol sexism?

Week 2:  Thursday, June 30, 2016
The Worst Job In Oregon (If You’re A Woman)

Week 3: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Over the line: harassment keeps women off the job

Week 4: Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Subtle sexism keeps women a step behind
Recruiting a better ending for women in the trades

Week 5: Thursday, July 29, 2016
Affirmative action fizzles for women in trades

Posted on by OTI Staff in About Oregon Tradeswomen, Media Coverage of OTI, tradeswomen | Leave a comment

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