The Future of Women’s Workwear
Alicia Woods is living proof that necessity breeds opportunity. For Woods, a commonly overlooked necessity led her to a huge opportunity that resulted in the creation of her own company called Covergalls and that landed her on Dragon’s Den – twice.
Woods was working as a sales account manager for a mining manufacturer in Sudbury, Ontario when she went underground on a mining site for the first time fifteen years ago. It was immediately obvious to her that the facilities and equipment were all geared towards male workers – even down to the coveralls she was required to wear. The smallest size of coveralls were too baggy on her and were completely misshaped for her frame.
But as she was underground, she was faced with a situation she had never even considered – how awkward using the washroom would be. With no private washroom available, Woods knew it would be embarrassing to pull down the entire coverall among her coworkers. When she did find a porta-potty with a bit of privacy, everything fell out of her pockets as she struggled to pull the coveralls down. This was when she realized a solution was in order.
“No two women are alike, so why should they have to wear clothing at work that doesn’t fit any of them, and is made for men?” – Alicia Woods
This is how Covergalls were born. If you haven’t already guessed, Covergalls are coveralls that are specifically designed to fit the shape and needs of the female body. They are the first piece of Canadian safety wear clothing that offer a true female fit. This is in stark contrast to other safety gear targeted towards women which are just men’s pieces, but in smaller sizes.
With the help of a seamstress, Woods constructed a prototype pair of coveralls that had a rear opening and a better fit. It also included wrist snaps, an adjustable hook and loop torso and two-way zippers to fit different shapes and sizes – something that regular coveralls just didn’t have. When her female friends started asking for their own pairs, Woods knew she was on to something. The positive feedback Woods has since received has been incredible, especially for such a niche market.
A Necessary Safety Measure
Aside from the inconveniences and challenges of wearing coveralls that were designed for men, Woods was able to tap into the most important factor of all – safety. She knew that avoiding trips to the washroom meant avoiding drinking water and other fluids, which can lead to dehydration, headaches and other health issues. Another huge factor was the bagginess of the male-designed coveralls – excessively baggy clothing quickly becomes a hazard on almost any job site, putting the wearer at risk of having their clothes caught on dangerous machinery.
3M Canada is proud to support such a simple, yet innovative, product that has made such a positive difference in so many women’s lives. Each pair of Covergalls is made with 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material to ensure the wearer is kept safe by being as visible as possible, even in the dimmest lighting conditions.
The Future of Covergalls
What’s next for Alicia Woods? Her goal is to continue to keep women safe by covering them from head to toe with the work gear they need. An expert at listening to women’s concerns to find out what they really need while in the field, Woods is constantly developing new ideas and pieces to meet these unique needs.
She has expanded the Covergalls line to include gloves, bib overalls and workpants for women and is currently developing on a new lightweight parka and a bright, high-vis construction flagger piece. And although Covergalls took off in the mining industry, the products are also becoming popular in other industries, including forestry, construction and manufacturing.
And did we mention she has distributors knocking on her door, excited to stock her products and tap into this growing market?