Andrea Obana, Dovetail Customer Service Guru

Andrea at the Wooden Boat Festival, photo by Douglas Ludwig

We are celebrating 5 years of Dovetail, highlighting the women who have helped build workwear by, for and with women. Meet our founders, employees, pant namesakes and wear testers. Learn about their work with Dovetail and see what they are doing now!

How did you originally get introduced to Dovetail?

I was friends with the founders long before they started the company, and when they began making the very first Mavens, I was one of their early wear testers.

Now we’ve named our Obana Apron after Andrea.

What kind of work were you doing at that time? And now?

I was a cooking instructor, teaching folks how to make Japanese food. I still do that occasionally but I’m also the head of Customer Service at Dovetail now.

Andrea with her chef’s tools and traveling in Japan.

As a namesake, what feedback or wear testing did you participate in?

I was one of the first wear testers of the original Maven Slim in Power Stretch Denim. We immediately knew we had something when people randomly came up to us to comment on the pants.

What do you have to sacrifice to be good at what you do? It can be something like “free time” or “my thin skin/ego” or “Sundays” or “$$$”—please elaborate on your answer!

Sleeping in, sometimes! But not much in the way of sacrifice, really. Our customers tend to be very nice, and it’s seldom that they give us a hard time.

Andrea at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, WA, photo by Douglas Ludwig. Unlike our customers, our mannequin, Ripley, always gives us a hard time!

What are the top five things that are always in your pockets?

Tiny wallet, phone, handkerchief, glasses cleaning cloth, and lip balm. Since I began wearing our own company’s pants, I don’t even carry a purse any longer. My shoulders are thanking me.

Andrea, at the Wooden Boat Festival fashion show, with our friends from the NW Maritime Center, asking what everyone else keeps in their pockets, photo by Douglas Ludwig.

What are you doing when you’re not working hard?

I’m out hiking in local wildlife areas, or I’m cooking something.

Sometimes we get to play with nature, too – at a company floral design workshop with Françoise Weeks.

How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?

(I don’t know how to answer this one - “be friends with people who start companies”?)

With Dovetail founders.

Let’s get deep. Workwear specifically by and for women—what does it mean to you, how does it affect your life, and why is it important, philosophically?

It affects my life because this is a company founded by friends, whom I get to work with! My colleagues are a great bunch of people. I think our products are great-looking, well-fitting, and thoughtfully designed, and I like knowing that hard-working women out there are doing hard work in our stuff.

Getting to meet other hard-working women of maritime at the Wooden Boat Festival, photo by Douglas Ludwig.

Has anyone recognized you wearing your namesake clothing?

The long apron was named after me. So, nobody’s recognized me; I don’t walk around wearing aprons outside, usually!

Are there any organizations or nonprofits that you think we should know about?

The school program that brought Dovetail founders Kate, Sara, and a bunch of other DT folks together is the Japanese Dual-Language Immersion Program at Portland Public Schools, and the organization that keeps it all together (and for which I've been on the executive board for years now) is Oya No Kai.

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