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Building Dovetail: Sara Kent DeLuca, Dovetail Co-Founder and Director of Product Development

What does a day at Dovetail Product Creation look like?

It starts with two of my favorite things, percolator coffee and a quick walk with my dog, Shasta. Sometimes at breakfast, I get a funny text or video from one of our wear testers (those are the best mornings). What follows is usually some variation of troubleshooting production issues and running fittings, collaborating with the other Dovetail teams (marketing, sales, and customer service) and getting fun prototypes in the mail. The best days are punctuated by time with our product testers in the field or connecting with our partner community organizations.

Shasta is our Dovetail model for the new dog jacket, and the Kent X Chore Coat is named after Sara's family farm. Both coming Fall 2023.

When did you first fall in love with design/apparel?

It was a slow burn kind of love. It started with working on denim in the heyday of Gap with a talented group of people who I'm still in touch with and many whom I continue to work with today. It grew deeper working for designers and artists like Rogan Gregory who broke every rule around material and garment construction and really taught me to love the uncharted path of design and development - all the accidents that became the most beautiful pieces. There were others (Paper Denim & Cloth, Alex Mill) - what these brands all shared was deep intentionality to the base materials and crafted product detail. When Dovetail came along, I was ready. This brand is here to disrupt the workwear market and I'm really honored to help build products that can do just that.

At the Kingpins denim show in NYC

Where did you grow up?

On the border between Moscow, ID, and Pullman, WA.  Two university towns. My parents had a 21 acre ranch. Farming was not their day jobs - my dad was a math professor at WSU and my mom a community activist. They had a huge garden and orchard, a million different animals, my dad collected trees and plant specimens from all over the world. Like homesteading before it was popular. We could hear the owls in the trees at night. When I got married, my parents named the two great horned owls occupying the tree behind our house, Sara and Dallas (my husband).  

Sara as a teen on the Kent family farm. 

Where do you seek inspiration for your design work?

It's a combination, many times it starts with material and finding fabrics that really break the mold. For Dovetail, our substrates need to be functional and durable but from the beginning, we (Kate, Kyle and I) all shared a deep appreciation for texture, color, and aesthetic. Landscaping and apparel design share those commonalities. I love natural fibers and performance enhancing technology. Finding those fabrics is the first step to building new product. As for garment construction and design, we're really following the lead of the women wearing Dovetail. It starts and ends with them. They inform what we build by handing us the checklist of the problems they need solved. They wear test and are part of a continuous loop of feedback. Its such a fun way to do product development AND we get to hang out with the coolest women doing the coolest things.

Sara in the school garden where she met her two co-founders and Sara with Anne of All Trades, one of our weartesters.

What do you carry in your pockets?

I find all sorts of crazy things. Pantone color chips, little fabric swatches, a sharpie, chapstick, and keys I forgot to put away. Sometimes I lose things in my pockets because I’m always wearing Dovetail and there are just soooooo many pockets.

Early prototype of Dovetail tiered pocketing system, and putting it to use in the Hadley Coverall with the product team.

Tell us something not everyone knows about you?

I come from a long line of pie makers. My mom and her mom before her. I learned from a young age that the best pies come from the highest quality ingredients. My mom used to say, why are we making this pie and who are we making this pie for? And we’d inscribe their initials in the top crust. It was that tradition that led to us starting to name Dovetail products after the women who inspired them. Why are we making this and who is it for?

Sara with Isis, a weartester, and Kyle Marie, co-founder
Getting punchy after a trunk show in the early days.

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?

I think the fundamental difference between us and other brands is that it is deeply personal. Dovetail Workwear was borne from the gap in the market that Kate and Kyle faced in finding adequate workwear for their landscaping business. We’ve grown with a community of women that have collaborated, inspired and supported us. Every person on our team is here because they believe in female empowerment. 

Founders at their first Women Build Nations Conference in Chicago.

From the beginning, women would tell us that wearing our workpants made them feel seen, valued, and respected. Amy James Neel, one of our namesakes and wear testers said it really well, “when you are a professional out in the field and you don’t have gear or tools that fit you, the not-so-subtle-message is that you don’t belong.” Our goal is to demonstrate that no one body type or gender defines an industry or the level of someones skill and that everyone belongs.