Though women comprise just 22% of the utility workforce compared to 47% in other industries, we’re spotlighting the power of each individual spark to ignite change. Follow along with our Women in Power series as we celebrate and empower women leading the way in a wide range of careers where AR/FR clothing plays a role.
Michigan natives, Tina Picciuto-Norris and Melinda Fabry, Global Product Design Manager and PPE Merchandiser from Carhartt Company Gear share what led them to their careers at the leading workwear brand in this two-for-one interview. Tune in to interview 9, hosted by Tyndale’s Director of Online Marketing and Events, Sarah Steel:
Looking Back: Finding Purpose in Protection
At a young age, Tina knew she wanted to pursue a career in garment design. She received her B.A.A from Central Michigan University and took her first job as an entry level Lab Dip Colorist out of college. From there, Tina worked in the fashion and streetwear industry, but it wasn’t until Tina joined Carhartt that she realized the true reward in garment design. “You really do have a different level of exposure to making sure that a garment is made of the right fabric, testing, and functionality, where in fast fashion you don’t necessarily think about that as much as what is trending,” she says. Today, as Carhartt’s Global Product Design Manager, Tina reflects on how rewarding it is to design clothing that protects workers and ensures they come home safe each day.
While Melinda didn’t always know she wanted to be in this business, early experiences in the retail industry led her to apparel merchandising at Carhartt. “There was always something there, always something I was intrigued by,” Melinda recalls. In fact, it seems as though Melinda found her calling as she recently celebrated 20 years at the workwear company.
As Tina reflects on her time in the streetwear business, which was a male dominated industry, she remembers, “as long as I was able to stay true to myself, I still felt like I had the same level of respect, but it was really challenging at that time.” However, since joining Carhartt nearly 18 years ago, Tina has enjoyed working for a company with high values, a mission to create an inclusive workplace, a positive brand history, and one that serves a purpose. “Recently, I’ve seen fellow peers push for more equality and inclusion in the workplace,” says Tina. A trend that energizes the female workforce and ensures positive change for all moving forward.
How Carhartt’s Philosophy Ensures Innovative PPE for All
Headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, Carhartt is an American apparel company best known for heavy-duty workwear. Though they are an internationally recognized company, they operate as a family. Woven into their company values of hard work, dependability, honesty, and trust, Carhartt strives to ensure that each employee knows there is a place for them.
This philosophy is carried through every aspect of Carhartt’s business – especially when drawing inspiration for the development of women’s PPE garments. “We always start with the end consumer in mind,” says Melinda. Honest feedback is especially important when designing new workwear for women. Women aren’t just looking for an adaptation of a men’s garment – they’re looking for comfortable, stylish, lightweight solutions that provide ease of mobility for their specific body type. “We make sure that women have the same functionality and durability in their clothing as men,” says Tina. But the design team at Carhartt knows that they can’t stop there. We asked Tina what Carhartt does to ensure they’re producing garments that address feedback from women in the field. “We always, as a design team for both non-FR and FR garments, make sure that we are aware of market trends...but as a brand making sure workwear and safety are number one” The team at Carhartt knows that “women want their FR clothing to look and feel just like their non-FR clothing,” says Melinda. So how is Carhartt going to make that happen?
Looking Ahead: New PPE Options for Women
A testament to Carhartt’s ability to meet the demand in trends, their new FR leggings for women provide comfort and protection in an everyday pant – perfect for on and off the job. “Women are wearing leggings all the time now,” says Melinda. The leggings have been field tested by end-users and the reviews are in! These pants exceed the expectations of working women everywhere, naming them the perfect solution for all day comfort and protection. The PPE brand is also launching a new AR / FR stretch bib for women because “when you feel good, you work better,” says Tina.
Like Carhartt, Tyndale and other leading brands are designing garments designed specifically for women. We believe AR / FR garment choice has the power to enhance comfort, ensure satisfaction, and – most importantly – drive safety and compliance.
Series: Women in Power
Follow along with this interview-style series to hear directly from women fueling careers in the energy sector on why they chose their occupation, what they like about it, their hopes for the future, their vision for the evolution of PPE, how we can help pave the way for other women, and more: