New workwear company meets need for women in construction
By Anne Marie Gerhardt
| 12/13/2022 12:01:43 PM
While interning for a general contractor in Washington D.C. during her junior year of college, Morgan Dawson struggled with what to wear on the job. She tried denim jeans, but found them restricting. She tried boy-sized construction pants, but they didn't fit right.
“After I finished college and got a full-time job returning to the general contractor as a field engineer, the same question popped up again,” Dawson says, frustrated by the lack of options for women. “One day, after sitting down with my family, I came up with the idea to create clothes for women working in construction and it just snowballed from there.”
At 23, Dawson launched her company “Dawson Workwear Built for Her,” selling a line of classic work pants designed to fit a female’s body shape. She says her first sample based on her favorite pair of jeans and made at a local tailor shop ended up as “a disaster.”
She enlisted help from college friends who studied fashion design, researched the ideal fabrics, and found a manufacturer in Los Angeles.
“The LA company takes my ideas and designs and does all the sourcing from the fabrics to the embellishments,” Dawson says. “My guest bedroom in my apartment is my shipping room and is filled with all my orders.”
Dawson first became interested in construction as a young girl while tagging along on her father's job sites watching him work as a mason. She received a degree in construction management from Kent State University and currently works as a development associate with Orchestra Partners, revitalizing and redeveloping historic buildings in Birmingham, Alabama.
Dawson is part of a growing number of women looking for careers in construction. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor August 2022 statistics, women comprise 14 percent of the construction industry, up from 11 percent. Dawson wants to advocate for more young women to consider going into construction and help them find clothing that fits.
“Working in a male-dominated industry as a 22-year-old out of college can be really intimidating, especially when you’re wearing little boy clothes,” Dawson says. “I heard a term the other day, ‘shrink it and pink it,’ basically, most of the options for women are just smaller versions of men’s clothing. I wanted to make a line built for women’s bodies.”
Dawson Workwear pants are constructed of lightweight cotton canvas ideal for mobility with double-stitching at the knees and heels for extra durability. They feature utility pockets, a high-rise fit with slim-straight legs, and a loop to hold a hammer. Dawson says "no job is too tough" for these pants. They come in two colors, but Dawson is soon launching navy-colored and flame-retardant pants on her website.
Dawson says sales are up as more women are hearing about her business. “I’ve been shocked by the outpouring of support and suggestions from women telling me their stories and want they want, which helps inspire me to come up with new ideas,” she says. “I want to make workwear for all seasons, for all applications for women, and for construction companies to provide workwear for their women.”
She adds her real hope is that her clothing line ultimately empowers women. “I want to do as much as possible to help young women in construction feel comfortable and confident on the job.”
Learn more about Dawson’s line of clothing at dawsonworkwearforher.com