It’s here, and so are you, and so are we. No words can do justice to the hardship 2020 inflicted on families and communities. We won’t try. Instead, we thought to share with you how 2020 tested us as a young, scrappy brand, and how you—our Dovetail community—helped get us through.
For a company whose motto is “get dirty,” 2020 was a weird new world that saw us obsessively washing our hands. Tough times don’t end when the calendar flips, but we’re grateful to be able to reflect on them at all. We may be a little beat up, and in need of an actual hug, but we’re so damn lucky to be writing to you.
Don’t move/ Keep going
Dovetail Workwear is about women in action, and that includes us three founders. Like all of you, 2020 meant we had to stop moving and keep going all at the same time. Before Coronavirus (BC), Brand Director Kate drove around the country, meeting with sales and retail teams (in addition to our website shop, Dovetail is carried in 100+ stores across 30+ states). BC, Marketing Director Kyle directed photo shoots on job sites and in studios. BC, Product Development Director Sara geeked out at denim conferences with her fellow “threadheads” (fabric gurus), and connected closely with the pro women who wear test her prototypes. All that stopped. Familiar words took on new meanings: “home” also meant “school” and “office.” Along with everyone else on the planet, we had to pivot, troubleshoot, adapt. And when it got extra tough, we read our own newsletter…
Our 2020 Women at Work newsletter profiles boosted morale and kept us sane. When Kyle got cabin fever, she tuned in to wildlife photographer Melissa Groo’s favorite birdsongs on the Dovetail Workwear Spotify channel. When Kate missed being on the road, she cranked up the volume on the playlist made for us by Women In Trucking, and hit the highway vicariously with veteran trucker Allyson “Cadillac” Hay. When Sara missed going to work with the women who inspire her product designs, she followed the journey of Demi Knight-Clark and her startup, She Built This City. These are just three examples from the many interviews we did last year. We also communed, commiserated, and celebrated with our retailers, customers, and social media friends who shared photos and stories with us. Sheltering in place, we traveled far. You kept us going.
Cut budgets, cut salaries, cut volume. Unsurprisingly, the word “cut” featured in every facet of our business last year. The apparel industry was hit extra hard by the pandemic. Nobody more so than the garment factory workers around the globe, whose lives have been devastated by Covid-19. We’re proud to say that even when accounts had to cancel orders, we stood by our commitments to factories and mills. In turn, we’re deeply grateful to our supply chain partners for their loyalty. They faced every challenge with us. They reduced their rates, shared in extra costs, and came up with creative ways to keep things moving while keeping their people safe. 2020 was undeniably grim. But we have the best partners. Our bonds with our supply chain strengthened through shared struggles. Our belief in the power of community has grown.
We know our customers had to cut their own budgets radically. In lean times, acts of generosity go even farther. Andrea, our Customer Service Maven, told us the story of a longtime customer who recently returned a garment that didn't fit. But instead of accepting her refund, she donated it to someone in the community who could really use it. This is what Dovetailers do. In so many ways, our people remind us that we can be more with less.
Let go/ Hold on
2020 meant we had to let go—of assumptions, old ways, and a lot of really good times. Every year we look forward to hanging with our friends at Outdoor Retailer, and to being at the Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. “Blue Collar Gala,” where Dovetail sponsors the most fun fashion show of all time. What happens when your favorite events can’t go on? It’s easy to feel there’s nothing good left, except vodka and Schitt’s Creek. But we took strength from our sisters who found new virtual ways of pulling people together. Shooting video for National Association of Women in Construction’s first virtual conference got us fired up. Which led to new ideas. Could we do a virtual tradeshow? From Kyle’s garage? From Kate's woodshop? Why not?
So much went on hold last year. But we also held on tight. Some things were non-negotiable for us and we pushed them through. 2020 will also be known to us as the year we brought the first maternity workpant in US history to market. For three women who met as moms and dreamed of this pant from the beginning, this moment means more than words. (That’s why we make pants instead;)
Keep going. Grow. Hold on. We’re taking the best of 2020 and bringing it with us into 2021. We hope the same for you and yours. Thank you for reading. Thank you for sticking with us. Thank you for showing us how you #getdirtywithdovetail. Your hard work is the fuel for ours.
Happy New Year!