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.
In this episode of Women in Power, our host, Sarah Steel, Director of Online Marketing and Events, sits down with a woman who enhances the comfort and safety of workers facing arc flash and flash fire hazards – and advances arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) clothing options for women.
Pam Costello serves as Product Development Manager at Tyndale. With a background in fashion design and past experience designing women’s maternity wear and safety and survival products, Pam’s role at Tyndale marries her passions for creativity and designing for form and function.
She loves knowing the clothing she designs “is not just something that you’re wearing every day – putting on your back – but in the end, helps somebody.” Hear more of her unique, inside perspective on AR / FR clothing design and the industry:
In the interview, Pam talks about her role, her unique perspective on the evolution of AR / FR clothing styles, her goals for advancing women’s AR / FR garments, and the product design process. Plus, her own career path, balancing work and motherhood – and more.
How does Pam see the AR / FR clothing industry changing?
Pam has seen changes in how clothing looks – “the industry is going in the direction of providing clothing that is not only something you can wear on the job but more in line with clothing you would wear off the job as well,” she said.
She’s also seen manufacturers, like Tyndale, focusing more on women’s wear. “In the beginning, it was more of an afterthought, and now it’s more of a first thought,” she said. In fact, she’s seen more of a focus on fit and inclusive sizing, and a heightened commitment to making women’s AR / FR clothing that goes beyond practical and functional but is also comfortable.
How is the landscape changing when it comes to women’s products?
In the past, manufacturers took a “shrink and pink” approach to women’s AR / FR – essentially shrinking down the men’s versions of garments. But now, manufacturers are leveraging fabric innovations to create women’s AR / FR clothing that is truly comfortable and has a fit more similar to what a woman might find in a retail store off the clock.
As more women join the trades, Pam has been excited to see some manufacturers and service providers like Tyndale putting more money into designing and stocking more options for women. “We may be a small audience, but we’re a loud one,” Pam said.
Pam’s goal in her role? “To develop products that are fit for women, designed for women, with features that are more feminine but are functional at the same time,” she said.
Be sure to watch the interview to find out Pam’s favorite Tyndale women’s product and why.
What trends is Pam seeing in AR / FR clothing?
Pam sees the addition of stretch to garments as one of the biggest innovations in AR / FR clothing. Whereas past generations of protective fabrics were stiff and heavy, many fabric manufacturers are now bringing trends, features, and colors from the retail apparel market to the AR / FR clothing space.
Today, she sees the industry trending toward AR / FR clothing people want to wear and less of a uniform look, with “styles more like what you would find in a retail store,” she said.
What does Pam want people to know about the design process at Tyndale?
A great deal of thought, fine-tuning, and attention to detail go into sourcing materials, designing, and producing the pieces in our Tyndale AR / FR clothing collections. The development process can be long and time-consuming – sometimes taking years from the initial concept to the arrival of finished products on the shelves. “We want to make sure the product we’re putting out there is what we intended it to be, and that timeframe can be pretty long,” she said.
Products are designed based on feedback from product reviews, data from returns, input from workers in the field, and insight from Tyndale’s Sales group.
How has Pam built and navigated her career as a working mom?
Be sure to watch the interview to hear firsthand as Pam shares her experience and perspective on:
- How she balances her work with her home life as a mom and ways she carves out time for herself
- What challenges Pam has had to overcome – both in her career and in designing products in a technical role
- How she grew by learning all she could about the design and production process from the bottom up, and ways she stays relevant in her field
- How she mentors others following a similar path
Stay tuned for the next episode in our Women in Power series coming to a screen near you in the Spring of 2023.
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: