Leadership at Kitsbow (celebrating Women's History Month)

by David Billstrom

For many of us who work at Kitsbow like myself, on a day to day basis I don't really notice that about half of our team identifies as female: 53% to be exact. 

It's our normal. It takes a day like International Women's Day, for me to remember how unusual that is...


For context, the workforce in apparel manufacturing in the U.S. is 61% female overall. Studies of the apparel and retail apparel companies in the Fortune 1000 reveal that women occupy 73% of the entry-level employee base in the fashion industry.

It's not clear why men (and workers that do not identify as either men or women) don't fulfill these jobs and careers in apparel and fashion at the same rate as women, but they do not. 

While the overall population of the U.S. is 51% female, women are doing more of the work in our industry.

But not at Kitsbow. At Kitsbow, the load is shared. It is literally just as likely that the sewing machine is operated by a man as by a woman (or by the 11% of our workforce identifying as neither).

While we can't fully explain, let alone prove why Kitsbow has gender parity, we believe it is partially a logical result of our inclusive hiring practices -- we ignore almost all traditional candidate factors such as credentials and formal education and focus on potential skill and match with our values. 

Gender, age, sexual orientation, skin color is not a factor in our hiring process. If you can and want to help, we welcome everybody. 

Yet I believe the largest factor is leadership. Those studies of the fashion industry also indicate that just 12.5% of the industry is led by women.

But not at Kitsbow. Current situation:

- Product design is led by a woman

- Product construction is led by a woman.

- Our marketing team consists entirely of women.

- 50% of the senior leaders running the company are women. 

And not because we set out to achieve any of these metrics, but because these individuals were absolutely the most qualified human for their role. 


We're not done. Our product line does not (yet) fulfill the needs of women, since we put the male customer first for much of our first decade. Yet women are 46% of the users in the outdoors (and 51% of the overall population). So we've got some work to do, and we're committed to providing women with more choice, more sizes, and more performance.

As part of that journey, we announced an amazing MTB short for women, on International Women's Day. 

It is the best of our years of experience of designing and making shorts, it incorporates feedback from women, it was designed by women, and the team that makes this specific product in Old Fort, NC is two-thirds women.

You can see it here

Thanks to all of our team for making this milestone come true.



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