Updated: Dec 11, 2019
On Saturday, February 24th, 2018, Helga Wear proudly sponsored the first-ever Lady Roughneck Social, a benefit for EMBERS Staffing Solutions. Part fundraiser, part celebration, the Lady Roughneck Social was hosted at the Royal Canadian Legion in Cloverdale, BC-hometown to many of the female Traffic Control Workers, also known as flaggers, who bridge the safety gap between industry and civilians in the Lower Mainland daily. With a live band and an energetic real-time auction, the Lady Roughneck Social also included a boot drive, with donations of steel-toed boots coming in from more established women for those just getting their start.
My first contact with EMBERS Staffing Solutions, also known as the Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS), came while I was connected to EMBERS Ventures which offers business support and training programs. Founded in 2001 to create economic and employment opportunities for people living on low-income EMBERS has provided thousands of people with jobs, and helped support more than 750 local businesses over the past 18 years including Helga Wear!
I was a passionate and eager recruit to the EMBERS’ Ventures Self-Employment Program, a program that gives business training and support to entrepreneurs, like me, who are about to launch a business or expand an existing one.
During my time in the program I got a bird’s eye view of one of EMBERS’ amazing projects - a lending library designed to give newly hired Traffic Control Persons the gear they need to work; road signs, hard hat, steel-toed boots, and of course rain-ready outdoors gear. Then idea being that once these eager new hires earned enough money, they could buy that gear at a below-market price, or return it to the library and buy their own elsewhere.
As I watched the women among the newly hired leaving the lending library wearing male-bodied rain gear it drilled into my heart why I am doing what I am doing. I knew that those potato sack jackets and ridiculously vestigial 3” flies sitting on those unisex hi-vis overalls would leave these women with the same fitting and toileting problems I faced before developing Helga Wear. (Need a reminder? Click here)
That memory, that motivation, stayed with me as I built my business and fueled my desire to give back to EMBERS and sponsor the Lady Roughneck Social.
The snow fell like crazy on the special day. Still, we were thrilled to welcome those who trekked through the cold, as well as some locals who just happened to wander in. All in all, we raised a couple hundred dollars, and an armful of steel-toed boots were donated too.
I walked away from the Lady Roughneck Social with my heart set on partnering up again.
So, from mid-April to mid-May 2019, our growing company joined forces with EMBERS Staffing Solutions to run a trial of Helga Wear’s female-bodied rain overalls for female Traffic Control Persons.
The Hilda's came ready to roll, complete with regulation CSA striping, cut for the female body, and fitted with the secret zips needed for women to go to the bathroom with ease in any porta potty in town. Participants such as Michelle, Ronda, and Anastasia (seen from left to right) were encouraged to put their Hilda's through the paces, and they came back with heart-warming praises and crucial product feedback to guide the future product line of Helga Wear.
I am so grateful to them for their time and their attention to detail. I'm so excited to work with pillars of our community such as EMBERS Staffing Solutions, as they continue to elevate, support and partner with the people and local businesses such as Helga Wear. I look forward to working together to outfit women in the skilled and construction trades with the female-bodied garments they want, need, and deserve.