After numerous trips underground and awkward trips to the porta-potty, Alicia Woods had had enough — of the work wear.
Woods is the director of sales for North America for McLean Engineering ltd. She works in the mining supply and service sector and is involved with companies that design and manufacture mobile equipment, such as production drills. She also has to go underground frequently. The problem was, there was only men’s personal protective equipment available for Woods. She had to get the smallest outfit and bring the coveralls to a seamstress for them to fit. But that was just the beginning.
“I was taken to porta-potty, which had no door on it. It was absolutely disgusting,” said Woods. “I stepped in, I turned off my light so nobody would see me and I proceeded to undo my coveralls.”
“You’re squatting and trying to make sure you’re not touching anything. You’re trying to make sure your clothes don’t touch the ground. It was an awful, awful experience,” she said, adding she could no longer live with the traditional men’s work wear.
Woods recounted her experiences Friday, when she visited Marymount Academy. She talked to the all-girls school about how to be successful.
“You’re going to hear the word ‘no’ a lot, but don’t let that stop you.”
In the case of her wardrobe malfunction underground, Woods invented Covergalls, which is woman’s workwear that improves functionality from top to bottom. Not only do Covergalls come in a variety of fabrics and colours, Woods said, they also keep woman healthier and safer underground and in the workforce. They are equipped with snaps at wrists and an adjustable waist to ensure the garment does not hang or get caught in equipment, for a safer and more tailored fit.
“It’s an actual true female fit,” said Woods, “so it just fit properly in the right places (on the body).”
Covergalls also has a rear opening functions to improve the toilet use experience.
“Woman can actually drink, and not go a full-day without keeping hydrated,” said Woods, adding people have to completely remove the uniform to use the washroom.
Woods wondered why women underground had to wear garments designed for a male’s body type. The reason? They didn’t have a choice. There were no coveralls for women available. Woods came up with the idea when she entered into mining 15 years ago, but she put it on hold, because her career was growing and she and her husband started a family. She picked the idea four years later, after dealing with the men’s work wear.
Woods took the idea to the dragons of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, where she pitched the idea. Dragon’s Arlene Dickinson, Mike Wekerle, and Jim Treliving took interest and a deal was made to invest in the Covergalls.
She said about 1,000 Covergalls have been sold, and she plans to launch Coverguys for men soon.
For more information about Covergalls visit, covergallsworkwear.com/covergalls/.
Connor Pringle | For The Sudbury Star