“Stylish” and “steel-toe shoes” are not words you’d ever expect in the same sentence. And yet, this Manufacturing Happy Hour guest has made it possible.
Ana Kraft is the Founder and CEO of Xena Workwear, a brand that offers both stylish and practical footwear and apparel for women in manufacturing.
In this episode, Ana shares her story behind what made her start Xena Workwear, how the business has taken off, and where it’s heading in the future.
Like many women in manufacturing, Ana was struggling to find shoes that were suitable for both the shop floor AND professional meetings. Instead of carrying around steel-toe boots all day, she came up with a neat solution – stylish steel-toe boots!
Ana also discusses her long-term goals for women in STEM and how she encourages young girls to see STEM as the exciting career route that it is.
3 Quick Things from this Episode
- Dressing professionally (both for meetings and the shop floor) can be a challenge for women in manufacturing, that is until Xena Workwear.
- Many girls don’t see manufacturing as the career path for them because there’s a lack of female role models in their lives. Ana’s on a mission to change that.
- Starting any business is a huge challenge, but persistence and determination are what ultimately make it pay off.
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- “I think a lot of non-profits are now doing a really good job going to schools and working with girls, doing fun things like 3D printing, welding, or construction for a week.”
- “Something happens around the age of 15, where girls lose the feeling that they can do math and physics and engineering…they lose confidence for some reason.”
- “It just makes it so much easier to do the work…and the way it makes women feel is just incredible. They feel way more feminine, confident, and this is what they have been looking for.”
Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode
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What We Discuss with Ana
- How Ana first came up with the idea for Xena Workwear
- The challenges of starting a business
- What Ana’s long-term goals for women in STEM are
- The importance of good female role models in STEM
- Popular products in the Xena Workwear line, and the plans for future apparel
- Xena Workwear, a Milwaukee-based company creating fashionable steel-toe boots for women in manufacturing.
- Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, a highly influential book to help women achieve their goals, lead, and make their voices heard in the workplace.
Connect with Ana and Xena Workwear