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Woman at Work: Gardener Nicole Freshley

You can only reach the Wallowa’s Minam River Lodge by horseback, plane, or an eight-mile hike. That didn't stop head gardener Nicole Freshly from growing delicious seasonal produce to feed and nourish guests... One of those guests was Dovetail co-founder and head of product development, Sara DeLuca.

After her vacation, Sara provided Nicole with a prototype of our original Maven Slim workpant (pictured left). In 2018, when she came to our office to share her design feedback, we interviewed her about her journey to a career in sustainable agriculture, her artistic passions, and personal experience trying to find women's workwear, by and for women.

It was then that Nicole said to co-founder and marketing director Kyle Marie, "Have you thought of making overalls?"
Indeed we had, and needed a wear tester for our prototype. Nicole has since admitted that her love for the classic workwear piece is so strong, her high school friends to call her "Nicoveralls. Nicole is now our foremost coverall queen, who has led us to develop the award-winning Freshley overall, now available in 5 fabrics.

How do Minam River Lodge guests interact with the garden?
A lot of guests will come down to the garden during the day and walk around and ask questions. Sometimes people have tips to give me and sometimes people don’t know what a carrot is! But either way, it’s really fun.

How would you explain the food revolution happening right now?

Nicole Freshley tying up a plant in front of a wooden fence, wearing the Freshley Overall in indigo stripe denim

The food revolution is about the quality of food, environmental health, community building, and the acknowledgment of the fulfillment that comes from working with the soil physically and producing one of your biggest needs for yourself.

What would you tell people who want to garden, but don't know where to start?
Some people think that gardening is hard and that keeps them from doing it. Even growing things like kale and lettuce can last you all season and be grown in shade. If you have pots or a smaller garden that doesn’t get much sun, there’s probably something that you can grow.

Nicole Freshley holding a landscape painting of snowy mountains while standing in front of a wooden barn door, wearing the Freshley Overalls in saddle brown canvas.

Your art is stunning. How does nature play into that?
I end up doing a lot of landscapes because I’m out in nature. I focus on interesting light. If a scene that is boring in real life has an interesting light, I love capturing that.

What were some of the struggles you found with workwear as a petite woman?
I have emailed different companies over the years and said, ‘it’s great that you offer women’s workwear, but why do you stop at size 6 or size 4? I’m petite and guess what, I do manual labor and I want pants too.’

There aren’t that many companies that do workwear for women. A lot of them do silly things like make pockets or loops that are just for show, but not functional, or they’re in girly colors that are just offensive. Nobody wants that. Maybe not as many small women are in manual labor, but when no one’s making the equipment to do your job, it’s not encouraging. What I love about your pants is that they fit me, so I can put my radio, my clippers, my phone in the pockets and they’re not going to sag down.

Dovetail Workwear Disclaimer: We are not the boss of our Women At Work! They say it their way and wear it their way.