Over 40 million women either work in professional trades or consider themselves as do-it-yourselfers (DIYers). Unfortunately, clothing manufacturers have largely ignored women who work as construction workers, farmers, electricians, automotive mechanics, and other trade professionals.
In 1913, Stacey Gose founded TOUGHER to create workwear for women. “TOUGHER was inspired by my own experiences as a woman spending summers on my family’s farm, and as a DIYer,” Gose tells HER Magazine. “In both roles, I needed to find workwear that was durable and fit properly, but I struggled to do so.” She says the workwear designed for women wasn’t really durable. On the other hand, when she purchased men’s workwear, she had to pin, hem, or make other alterations to get the clothes to fit her body. “It turns out many women shared this same frustration,” Gose says. “So, after interviewing more than 400 professional tradeswomen and DIYers, it was clear to me that there was a real market need for a company like TOUGHER to craft workwear specific to what women like me were looking for.”
The company’s Groundbreaker Work Pants were officially released this spring. “The pants are made with lightweight, breathable fabric with strength, on par with the heavyweight duck cotton used in other work pants,” Gose explains. The custom stretch fabric provides more room in the hips and quads for greater movement. This allows women to bend over or squat without exposing skin. “Other enhancements on the pants – which are available in sizes 2 through 20 – include deep, useful pockets with suede reinforcements, and a water-repellent finish.”
TOUGHER’s successful Groundbreaker Work Pants Kickstarter, which ended on January 3, surpassed its fundraising goal within just a few days of the month-long campaign!
The Corvallis, Oregon-based company also offers deerskin leather work gloves that are soft and supple, but durable enough for a long day in the field, backyard, or shop. “Our Work Gloves are also tailored specifically for women’s hands and come with a custom sizing guide to help women find the best fit,” Gose says. “We also sell organic cotton short- and long-sleeve shirts.”
While Gose grew up in Stockton, California, she spent summers on her grandparent’s farm in Iowa. “After 10 years working in public health, I got my MBA from the University of Oregon, which is just down the road from my Willamette Valley home,” she says.
She didn’t always know that she wanted to be an entrepreneur, but she did have certain expectations. “I always wanted a career where I could be creative, make my own hours, and positively impact the world around me,” Gose explains. “For some, that might mean becoming an artist or a farmer — in the end, for me, it meant founding a women’s workwear company.”
When she’s not growing TOUGHER, Gose puts the company’s products to good use while taking care of chickens, and tackling endless backyard DIY projects.
For other women who want to be entrepreneurs, she offers the following advice: “Many people will say that you have to ‘act like a man’ in order to impress investors or demonstrate your ability to lead your own company.” However, she warns against falling into this trap. “Our world benefits from the point of view of women,” Gose says. “Always stay true to yourself, and others will be drawn to your authenticity.”