“I set out to help women look and feel confident at work, allowing us to pair our professional wardrobes with shoes that make a statement” – Anastasia Kraft – Founder of Xena Workwear.
The subject of correctly fitting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for women is an ongoing issue within a multitude of industries. When one considers that, on average, thirty-five women a year die on job sites because of badly fitting or inadequate PPE, it is a problem that needs a solution once and for all.
Founder and CEO of Xena Workwear, Anastasia Kraft set about redressing that problem herself.
Forced by the continuing indifference of manufacturers who were content for women workers to wear men’s equipment, Ana decided to intervene. Having spent five years in the manufacturing industry, she was well aware of the problems that women faced when it came to PPE.
Prior to Ana’s efforts, most manufacturers of women’s PPE had adhered to the blinkered and archaic view of “shrink it and pink it.” Sizes had not been considered properly and the only solution offered was to give women smaller versions of men’s equipment. This was particularly evident with footwear because women don’t just have smaller feet than men, they have different shaped feet. Not only that, but many women simply refuse to wear ugly, unfashionable footwear to work which can result in accidents. These are issues Ana wanted to address.
Xena Workwear caters exclusively to women and specializes in making protective footwear with a fashion sense. The company was launched in Milwaukee, in the heart of America’s Midwest, in May 2019 with the goal to give women a stylish safety shoe that they would be proud to wear at their worksites but without compromising safety.
“When women have the ability to wear stylish shoes in the workplace, their outfit options expand. What you wear can impact your self-confidence. Our products allow you to look sharp and professional without compromising safety.” Anastasia Kraft.
It isn’t just a matter of designing the work shoes and boots (something she freely confesses she knew very little about at the beginning). Ana also had to learn about American Safety Testing Standards to make sure that the products she offered women complied with safety regulations.
In a determined effort to ensure that her products are manufactured with ecological sustainability in mind, Ana uses only LWG (Leather Working Group) certified leather. LWG has more than 400 members made up of brands, leather manufacturers and suppliers.
The company has gone from strength to strength since it’s inception and Ana has been delighted with the feedback she has received from her clients including one who told her “this will fill a huge gap in the market.”
Here at PCIAW® VOICE we consider it a priority to support and champion women’s issues and, when those issues actively involve the safety of women, it is a pleasure to highlight companies like Xena Workwear, who are actively trying to help. At the PCIAW® we refuse to turn a blind eye to such a substantial problem in our field and will continue to offer our microphone to those who are willing to speak up.
For too long, the subject of ill-fitting (and consequently dangerous) PPE for women has been discussed and then often left with no adequate or practical solution. How many more women have to die before manufacturers finally realize that far bigger and far more expansive steps have to be taken to neutralise this problem once and for all? In the meantime, the PCIAW® will continue to offer a platform to those who are willing to share their stories to help advocate change.
Who knows, in years to come, perhaps the formation of a workwear company just for women might not be seen as such a novelty but the logical solution to a problem that has taken far too long to rectify.
“The spell of status quo can be broken by individual action. Xena was born from my desire to do something about it.” – Anastasia Kraft, founder and CEO of Xena Workwear.
 TUC, Women put at risk by ill-fitting safety gear, TUC warns (2017) < https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/women-put-risk-ill-fitting-safety-gear-warns-tuc >