”Be safe. Be you. Be a badass.”
It’s not just a compelling slogan – it’s a way of life for Ana Kraft. This trailblazing entrepreneur has turned her frustration with uncomfortable industrial work boots into an innovative small business with the goal of empowering women.
Ana is the founder and CEO of Xena Workwear, a company that makes “fierce” safety shoes and workwear for women in demanding industries like construction, engineering and transportation.
“When I worked as a project engineer, I was usually the only woman,” Ana said. “After a meeting in the office, we would go to the manufacturing floor, and I would have to go back to my desk to get my clunky work boots. They were also bulky and just awful to wear and look at.”
Industrial workwear is generally not designed with women in mind. Work boots, for example, are typically designed for men and simply resized in a process known as “pink it and shrink it.”
“I decided to develop versatile workwear so women never have to make a choice between function and fashion,” Ana said.
Thanks to the development of a great prototype, Ana secured $750,000 in seed money, and Xena unveiled its first steel-toe shoe in May 2019. The Gravity Safety model features a feminine design without compromising safety or functionality. The shoe is ASTM-certified, OSHA-compliant and resistant to impact, compression, oils, chemicals and slips.
“It’s designed for women by women,” Ana said. “Women are both beautiful and strong, and we deserve footwear with the same qualities.”
Remarkably, Xena has only four employees. Ana’s husband, Dmitry, is the chief operating officer and manages shipping. The company’s social media, customer experience and design expert is Hayley Albright, while Eugene Furman serves as the marketing and brand coordinator.
The team has cultivated a dedicated following that’s fallen in love with the comfort and safety of Xena’s apparel.
And they agree keeping customers happy means making sure products are shipped on time and undamaged. After working with another shipper, Xena switched to UPS with the help of account manager Ric Simon.
“We need a reliable shipping partner, one willing to work with us … and UPS has been that for us,” Dmitry said. “We’ve had great and continued support from Ric and that’s been so helpful.”
UPS has also worked with Xena’s fulfillment center partner – CH Coakley and Co. – to make sure all products are inspected before shipment and packaged with customized inserts for each customer.
One of Xena’s satisfied customers is UPS CEO Carol B. Tomé. Sporting the Gravity Safety shoe at a recent volunteer construction project, Carol said “they’re steel-toed, they’re comfortable, and by the way, they look really good.”
Ana pointed out having happy customers is what makes her work rewarding.
“Women face a lot challenges in business, but finding comfort in what you wear shouldn’t be one them. Women are strong and deserve to feel their best when they’re on the job.”