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Woman at Work: Christa Miller-Shelley

Tall ship sailor. Teacher. Barista. 

Dog sitter. Yoga teacher. Construction worker. 

Ski instructor. Knitter. Never quitter. 

This is how Christa Miller-Shelley stays busy. Based in Maine, this Jill of all trades is also the muse behind Dovetail Workwear’s Christa DIY pant. 

Christa's main hustle is at sea as Chief Mate of a wooden fishing schooner. On land, she works side gigs like construction and dog sitting... and on top of all that, skis and snowboards in her free time.

Christa began the pandemic at sea in the middle of a New England winter, then took a country-wide road trip with her boyfriend in a camper they built from scratch. She spent the summer working on her off-grid cabin in the woods of Maine, where she wear-tested the Christa DIY pant prototype. Then in the fall, she headed out to be Chief Mate for a semester at sea.

Ready to go 

“They’re on a hook right next to my bed. I put them on when I wake up.” 

Christa’s mornings  often begin with quiet time, coffee, and knitting. The Christa DIY works as cozy PJs for this part of her day, “then I get going. Yard, shed, boat, work…” 

A playlist by Christa, now on our Spotify channel

"This is from our semester-long high school education program aboard our 95-year-old wooden fishing schooner, Roseway. We departed from Boston and headed north to down-east Maine, then sailed south to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The deckhand educators were serving as AmeriCorps members or were alumni of the volunteer civil servant program. We trained the student crew to become competent mariners and sailors, while balancing a full course load of traditional navigation, maritime history, literature, and marine science. The hands-on learning environment is a platform for self-growth and empowerment, separating youth from a technology-filled culture." 

During transit, crew members turned the machine room into the drying machine room for their workwear. 

“I’ve burned through a pair of Carhartts in less than 2 weeks,” Christa says. “I’m really hard on everything I own. But these will last me years.” 

The Christa DIY wraps hardcore performance and utility into a soft package. These are the pants that love you back.

What’s in a Name? 

Christa is an example of Dovetail Workwear’s design and development process, where we begin and end with real working women collaborating with us every step of the way. Built by, for, and with women, our products are as purposeful as the women who need them. 

Inspired by Christa’s versatile days and the need for flexible workwear that can do it all, Dovetail Workwear co-founder and product designer-in-chief Sara DeLuca envisioned a new kind of workpant. One that feels like the weekend, but services the toughest of workdays. 

Sara at Work with pants and fabric samples

Naming products for the women who inspire them goes back to Sara’s childhood, where her mother would carve the name of someone special onto a pie she baked for them. 

“Dovetail is very personal to me,” Sara says. “Our weartesters are family.” 


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