Recently I was introduced to an amazing female run company, producing workwear for women, Eve Workwear. What I didn’t know at the time, was the amazing story behind the scenes of this company. This week, please let me introduce the trade story of Juanita, joint creator of Eve Workwear and Eve Renovations.
My Trade Story with Juanita Mottram
Thinking back, the seeds of eve workwear were sown when I was a 10-year-old girl. I was on a local co-op trip with my Dad to buy supplies for our dairy farm and he stopped to buy some workwear– a pair of simple green shorts and overalls. I remember asking if I could have some work shorts as well to be just like him, and he replied “they don’t make workwear for girls”, and I remember thinking, but why Dad?
Fast-forward a few years later, and I’d left the dairy farm behind and was working as a national marketing and business manager in Brisbane – an adventure to say the least but a job that I guess, at the time, was considered more appropriate for women than working on a dairy farm. However, as the stress of a corporate job increased and management became less and less supportive of woman moving up the corporate ladder, I felt like I had hit a glass ceiling and I found myself thinking that this wasn’t the life for me.
Despite all the stress, my job had given me the means to purchase my first home which I set about renovating myself – my hand-on days at the dairy farm never truly left me. Renovating my first home gave me a lot of pleasure and joy; not only did I like getting my hands dirty but it felt empowering to do something that was previously left to men.
Left with a job I disliked and a passion I loved, I met my now business partner-in-crime, Laura Madden, at a mutual friends barbeque. She had a decade of tiling and carpentry under her (tool) belt so I started chatting to her about how I was renovating my own house, loving it, and wanting to start a renovations business. Let’s just say the rest was history.
In 2010, eve renovations was launched, with a bathroom reno lined up on day one of operation. Ever since that day, Laura and I have never looked back and now employ a league of ‘lady tradies’, as well as guys. We both felt it was important to have a diverse workplace, after all- we learned our trades off guys as apprentices ourselves.
But whilst we were happy to learn from the lads, we weren’t all that happy to wear their clothes. Laura was frustrated with wearing daggy clothes on the job that never fit, and I had come from a professional background and didn’t understand why we were going to work dressed like we had borrowed our dad’s clothes. Eureka – eve workwear was born.
Officially launching in 2012, eve workwear is now into its fourth year of operation and has grown from one type of pants to five, with work shirts, shorts, base layers and outer clothing. The clothing is of the highest quality, all handmade in natural fabrics and incorporates new season colours and additions. Last year we expanded with our most successful collection to date, ‘No.26’. It is a trendy line that takes the tradie from the site to the streets with a mission to make woman feel proud every day when they get dressed for work.
However, setting up business didn’t come without its challenges. In the early days, we had to spend a lot of time in Indonesia to find the right tailor to make the high quality products we wanted. We eventually stumbled across a man who was happy to just do bits and pieces to begin with, until we were able to gain momentum. Now the same guy literally employs the whole village to keep up with our orders.
It was also challenging to work out exactly who our customers were and where our stuff fits – should it be in workwear or more of a fashion outlets. Women only represent a mere 1.1 per cent of Australia’s construction workers (a statistic unchanged between 1987 and 2012), and whilst we would love to say we could, we can’t make a business selling to this market alone. Over time, we’ve found that make-up artists, horse riders, interior designers, nurses and mothers all find a place for eve workwear in their wardrobe – which is fantastic!
With a new age of women coming through the ranks as apprentice lady tradies, and new colours and styles in constant development at eve workwear, Laura and I are more excited about life than ever. We both want to create change for women, so that little girls grow up not only shopping women’s workwear at their local co-op but with an attitude that empowers them to follow their dream.
Have you ever been forced to wear mens clothes? How do you incorporate your sense of fashion into your work day?