05 Jan Morgan Dawson – Workwear Built for Her
Episode #72: Welcome to the She Builds Show, I’m your host, Stefanie Olson and this week I’m excited to introduce you to Morgan Dawson, owner and founder of Dawson Workwear. From her first day on the jobsite, Morgan experienced firsthand the limited options for functional yet flattering workwear. Just about everything on the shelves is designed for men, and the few women’s options are not tailored to the female body. This led Morgan down the path of creating workwear for working women, designed by a working woman herself.
Listen in as Morgan shares her journey into creating Dawson Workwear!
ABOUT MORGAN DAWSON:
Morgan graduated from Kent State University in 2020, receiving her BA in Construction Management. From there she moved to Washington DC, and spent two years working for a general contractor as a field engineer. She now works in Birmingham, Alabama with a real estate development firm. Some days are spent in the office, while others are out in the field. She took her personal experience and frustrations and built Dawson Workwear, a company dedicated to creating the perfect workwear for women. The female body and the demands of the job are at the forefront of every design so women can work confidently and comfortably. Morgan is proud to be at the head of a woman owned and operated company, with all products designed and manufactured in the United States.
• I went to Kent State University in Ohio. I’m from Ohio originally. And my junior year, I interned for a general contractor, Hensel Phelps. And immediately I was like, what am I supposed to wear on the job site? Like I’m a 22 year old. I think I was 21 at the time actually. Going into the construction industry for the first time, I have no idea what to wear. So I ended up just getting like Levi’s jeans, and it worked out. I finished my internship, got a full time job offer. And so I finished my senior year at Kent State and moved to Washington, DC to work for Hensel Phelps full time. And the same question popped up. What do I wear? So I continued to wear these jeans. I tried a couple different workwear options, including little boys pants. I just couldn’t find something that would fit me. Those still didn’t fit. So I decided to start Dawson Workwear to help out other women that struggle with this like I did. (01:34)
• Yeah, so I’ve kind of worked for both. So now I work for a small firm. But back when I was working for the GC, I was on one job site every day. And my job was mostly like coordinating with our trades people. So our subcontractors, overseeing them, if they have an issue, you know, I track it down to help them figure out what to do, how to move forward. Is it mainly residential? Or were you doing like, what type of projects? I was doing commercial, I was building a radiation lab for the government. It was a renovation project. So I really love renovations. That’s what I’m doing right now with the development firm Orchestra Partners. At Hensel Phelps, we had our own craft people. So we did a lot of our own self-perform concrete. So I would help draw it up for them. So they basically drawing it so they can go out and build it, simplifying drawings from the architect and the engineers. So that was my favorite part, you know, interacting with the trades people, learning their backgrounds, learning skills from them. I was always like, hey, put me in, I’m here to help out. (04:58)
• So quality is a big thing to me. And then the fit is obviously the most important. Like, I wanted it to be a high rise, you know, mobility, a little bit more room in the waist. So you’re moving, your pants are moving with you, there’s no gapping in the back. And then I also wanted them to be made in the USA, just kind of to tag on to that quality aspect. I wanted to have a lot of control over the development and the production of it and, you know, pay my workers a good wage, a livable wage. So that was important. So how did you go from Okay, so you got the prototype, you know, you tried it on, how many times did you have to go back to fix things before you were like, okay, this one’s ready to go? Yeah, so we went through two samples, we got the first one so close that it really wasn’t too hard to perfect it. But and then as we’re now live, I’m taking feedback and we’ll just tweak our tech pack to incorporate any changes that we need. Yeah, the tech pack gets you pretty close for the first sample. And they might just be like, hey, I want this pocket to be a little bit bigger. Hey, let’s change this small, minor details, stuff like that. And then now who’s making the garment for you? And how is it getting to the customer? They’re made in LA. And then they’re shipped to me here in Birmingham. And I kind of run my own little shipping department out of my guest bedroom in my apartment. (11:00)
• So for the financial aspect, just find someone that believes in you and believes in your product, and that will help you get started. And then luckily, I’m at the point where my profits are going back into the company. So I’m not being paid at all right now. I’m just using this time period to invest in my product and come out with new products. And I also had to teach myself like marketing techniques, I had to figure out like my kind of market and how I could best advertise to them. So I’ve turned to social media, I think it will be the best aspect for me. And then the production was all new to me. Fashion design is all new to me. So it goes back to finding mentors in those areas that can help you through it. Has there been, you know, any one specific person or one specific like software or things that, something that you’ve done that you’re like, this really, really helped me figure this part out that I didn’t know how to do? Google is my savior. YouTube. Yeah, YouTube, Google, and then my production managers are super experienced as well. So they’ve kind of helped me, you know, tune in my pricing, where I need to be with that. And then just like, kind of customer support is also a tricky one. So they’ve helped me with that as well. So they’re my go to if I ever have questions or anything like that. Who are those people? Are they somebody that, if somebody else had an idea, would you share that? Yeah, it’s called The Accessory Think Tank. Oh, cool. Yeah, they do a bunch of different products, I’m their first workwear products so we’ve been learning together, which is nice. We can lean on each other for support. But they’re awesome. (17:08)
CONNECT WITH MORGAN:
• Website: https://dawsonworkwearforher.com
• Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/morgan_dawson31
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/morgandawson31
WAYS TO CONNECT WITH STEFANIE…