Recently I was invited by the #kingofsafety, Zak Karim of Big K Clothing, to the Imprint Trade Show at the Congress Centre in Toronto. He offered Helga Wear a guest spot in his booth and it was an honour to work alongside him.
The following is a quick rundown of our time at the Imprint trade show in Toronto; I will call it The Good, The Unexpected and The Grateful.
Part 1 - The Good
Women in Hi-Vis are Hard to Ignore!
The Big K Clothing catalogues, proudly featuring Helga Wear’s hi-visibility safety overalls to launch Big K’s women’s line, flew off the shelves.
By wearing our screaming yellow hi-vis overalls, the Hilda, I stole more than my fair share of attention at the trade show. We were able to coax large amounts of people to our booth to discuss the importance of female-specific workwear by strategically wielding a home-made ‘STOP/Ask About My Pants’ sign.
A few other vendors were less than pleased with my tactics after my I had wandered out of my corral and was shamelessly stopping anybody who dared make eye contact. But when you are trying to draw attention to a facet of the industry that has been widely overlooked and create a new standard for women's workwear there is no room for being shy, you need to be bold.
Many great connections were made, and I am following up with eager anticipation. GO HELGA GO!
Part 2 - The Bad
Cool Climates and Heated Conversations
It was the coldest January 5th in nearly 6 decades for the #GTA, a suitable ‘Welcome Back, Huettner’ from good old mother Ontario.
Apart from that, a few unexpected and difficult conversations were had about my experiences; I was asked why women need their own gear, why can’t they just stick to wearing what the guys wear, and more. When it seemed like my typical answers: because women have different body ratios than men (hip-to-height, shoulder span-to-height...etc.) were met with blank faces, I went on to tell them about how I had to half strip in the pouring rain on remote sites and leave the line of sight of my colleagues (not allowed in bear and cougar country)just to take a quick leak. That seemed to have an effect. In the end, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to talk openly with men and women alike about the struggles I faced working in a field dominated by men, and how wearing my Helga Wear overalls made a big difference.
Part 3 -The Grateful
On top of being honoured to participate, and present Helga Wear at this event, I was also floored by the generosity and comradery of my neighbouring exhibitors who are all working so hard to improve the industry. My new-found friends and fellow trade show exhibitors invited me to partake in an elite deli-sandwich-making tradition that took place in a hidden cove behind one of their booths. I was amazed by their impressive spread of meats, cheeses, condiments, bread and veggies which inspired me to up my trade show prep game. One by one, the chosen few were invited to make themselves a handheld lunch that gave maximum nutrients in minimum time, which allowed one to return to one’s post post-haste - no leads left behind!
To Sum Up
The Imprint Trade Show was a success. I enjoyed being the brightest woman in the auditorium, perhaps in the entire #GTA, in my hi-vis safety overalls; talking to men and women about my Helga Wear and what it was like to work as a woman in the field along coastal British Columbia. My booth mate, the #kingofsafety himself, and booth neighbours made the whole experience memorable and definitely worth repeating.