Hi, my name’s Annie Bowman and I am a painter and decorator and founder of workwear brand Hoydens As a woman in a physical job, I became so fed up with feeling uncomfortable and looking like a sack of potatoes at work, that I decided to try my hand at designing something comfortable, stylish AND practical for women in jobs like mine. Here’s the story of me and my brand….. Annie.
Why I became a painter and decorator
I had many different jobs before becoming a painter and decorator, but it was this job that helped give me self-confidence, choice and ultimately freedom. I had tried to be a primary school teacher, a utility advisor and a buyer. I have also been a Girl Guide leader and a befriender and done some peace work. But, being a self-employed decorator helped me manage my own time , juggle my kids, my voluntary work and my husband’s long hours. Working just one job at a time, and choosing my customers carefully meant that I could offer a quick and efficient service, but more importantly my customers liked the fact that I understood about having respect for their home and was safe around children and old people. Seeing the smile on someone’s face when you have given a room a new lease of life and left it clean and tidy was and still is really gratifying and confidence boosting to me.
I have recently moved from Frankfurt to Sheffield to be nearer my mum, my nearly grown up kids and for my husband to find work and apart from living in a house that needs lots of TLC and a move away from the 80s wallpaper and carpets, I have had a really interesting year trying to figure out the world of workwear for women. it is shocking to me that we have had women working in traditionally men’s jobs since the war, yet, we still have very little choice of work wear from the main suppliers. During the war, Sheffield had the Women of Steel, Land Girls worked in the countryside and we even had Lumber Jills working in the forests but making properly fitting clothing, especially PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) seems to have been forgotten about. So, I decided to change that – as you do :-).
Why the name ‘Hoydens’?
‘Hoyden’ is an old word for a high-spirited woman and it seemed to portray all the women I have thought of, from the Buffer Girls of Sheffield, to the women working in construction, factories and any physically active job. I also chose the name as it embraces the kind of woman I have been; a bit of a tomboy, and the kind of women who are brave enough to try something in a traditionally man’s world.
Our first product is a pair of trousers that I think will fit more women when held up to the competition. Hoyden’s USP is COMFORT and we use a stretch fabric and a waistband which stops the undignified ‘builder’s bum’ issue which men have been dogged with for years on building sites. Most of us just need a bit more space around the bum and thighs and maybe a tampon pocket!
The trousers are made in a tough fabric that won’t shrink in the wash and that has stretch for easy movement. The pockets are generous even on the smaller sizes and there are extra pockets, or Hoysters, that clip onto the belt loops for carrying the tools of your trade. The trousers come in sizes 8-18 and 3 leg lengths.
The future for Hoydens
Future ideas for development will be trousers with knee pad pockets, shorts, tops and jackets in different bust sizes and lengths and safety footwear and a wider selection of sizes. I have just successfully finished a crowdfunding campaign that will help pay for the first production run. The backers from the Kickstarter will have the chance to give me feedback which I can act upon for future designs. I am aiming to have stock in February and will be selling uniquely on www.hoydens.co.uk
Hoydens are tough trousers for tough women. Although they won’t solve all of women’s problems in the workplace, I do hope to increase recognition for women working in physical environments, to make sure they feel proud, confident and professional in their trousers. The website will help raise awareness of women doing physically active jobs, in order to encourage school leavers and career changers to think outside the box.