10 Feb Anastasia Kraft, CEO of Xena Workwear
Episode #28: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson. Today I am excited to introduce you to Anastasia Kraft, Founder and CEO of Xena Workwear – a company that creates fashionable safety shoes and functional apparel for women in STEM and the Trades. Ana shares what inspired her to create Xena Workwear and the steps she took to build her company.
Ready? Let’s go…
• Because of my background in Kasztan, I really wanted to have a career that would allow me to be financially independent and have a positive impact in the world. So I decided to go into engineering, and during my program, it was a small university in Southern Germany, a program is called International Project Engineering, and I learned a lot about different engineering subjects, project management and the intercultural competencies. And as part of the program, I had to go abroad for half a year to work at a manufacturing companies, I applied to so many exotic countries, initially I wanted to go to Asia or South America, and then the most interesting offer came from Waukesha Wisconsin, which is a small town here in Wisconsin, like, Where in the hell is Waukesha? But it sounded so interesting, and I love material sciences, especially steel and it was a German steel cutting tool facility that offered a job in quality assurance. (2:47)
• I repeated over and over again that I loved my job, I love working in manufacturing, and I love working on construction projects, and I didn’t really want to leave my job, but then after these massive projects were, then I got really bored and I thought about the fact that I need to do something more in my life, and I need to do something that really matters. So my husband and I gave ourselves a full year to decide whether we want to stay in the corporate world, in this case, I would have done my Master’s in the electrical engineering, and he planned to do his MBA or we would start a business together. So by the end of the year, we didn’t have a decision, so we decided to go up North for a whole weekend and brainstormed a lot of different ideas. Then… I told him, You know what, I’ve been thinking about the safety shoe idea for a long time. There’s a real need. (8:43)
• During that accelerator program, we actually launched with our first product, which is, I call it the gravity boot. It’s so cute, I love it! Thank you. It’s kind of, I call it the walk-through boots, which is, it’s designed for women, as for myself, who spend most of the time in an office and once in a while go through a manufacturing facility, but need to be safe having a slip-resistant out sole and the steel toe cap, protective toe cap. And over time, so after we get the funding, we started working on an additional model, which is now our best-selling shoe. We made a boot that was driven by women in construction who said, I need ankle coverage, I need an electric hazard certification and a lower heel, with the 90 degree angle. So that’s when the Omega came into play. And I see so many women wearing it. (17:05)
• Yeah, we try to run a very lean operations depending on the day, all of us, we’re wearing different hats. Wednesdays are my product development days, Fridays are more social media days, so it really depends. We just hired our fifth team member who will be starting on Monday. As the founder and CEO of the company I focus on things like product development, because I worked in a space and I talk to women in manufacturing and construction and similar fields on a regular basis. I’m responsible for fundraising, strategic planning, we talk briefly about traction, implementing, creating a mission for the company to make sure that everyone rose in the same direction, it’s incredibly important, because sometimes you can come off track. Where does that new person fit in your organizational chart? She will be taking over customer service. Before that, my husband helped with operations, making sure, shipping our products to our warehouse, making sure our customers get their products on time. (22:14)
ABOUT ANASTASIA KRAFT:
Ana Kraft is the Founder and CEO of Xena Workwear – a company that creates fashionable safety shoes and functional apparel for women in STEM and the Trades. This new category of workwear helps professional women be safe and feel confident in any work environment. Transitioning between the office, to the construction site or manufacturing floor has never been so easy. Ana holds a degree in International Project Engineering from Reutlingen University in Germany and currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The causes that drive her include sustainable development, education and maximizing opportunities for women.
CONNECT WITH ANASTASIA:
• Website: https://xenaworkwear.com
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/xenaworkwear
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/xenaworkwear
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/challenge/?next=/xenaworkwear
• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/xena-workwear
WAYS TO CONNECT WITH STEFANIE…