This week in Profiles in GRIT — our opportunity to highlight the winners of our first-ever GRIT Awards earlier this year — we introduce you to Jamie Glas (at left in the photo), owner and managing director of HauteWork (formerly Hot Stuff Safetywear).
If you came to the GRIT Awards presentation during HERWorld, you may remember our founder and CEO, Katie Mehnert, handing out the awards in a stunning blue jumpsuit. That came from Jaime.
She created HauteWork to give women in the oil and gas industry a brand of flame-resistant clothing (FRC) made exclusively for working women by working women. Her mission is to design safe, comfortable, functional and stylish FRC that is flattering to all female forms.
Here’s what you need to know about this petroleum engineer-turned-fashion entrepreneur.
PINK PETRO: What’s the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?
JAIME GLAS: The FRC industry is one that hasn't seen new blood in 30 years or so. It is a good ol’ boys club, and most of the players will do what they can to keep it that way. Another big challenge for the development of this brand has been finding a trusted manufacturer to make the final sales garments. For instance, I would go far down the process of production with one manufacturer only to have them claim insufficient capacity and pull the plug. Others have purchased the garments to try and knock them off. I have learned that business is business, and even if you start a project to have fun and grow, most people you deal with are only concerned about making money. Understanding this allows you to find those genuine people/partnerships that will make your venture a success. It also teaches you to protect yourself legally where you can and just keep swimming.
PP: What’s one mistake you made and what did you learn from it?
JG: The mistake I continually made in the beginning of this venture was to trust everyone I attempted to work with. I wasted almost two years of time and money with the first patternmaker I contracted who never intended to make garments that were actually flame-resistant. I allowed the relationship to continue for too long, hoping my instincts were wrong, and it set back the development of the brand. All I’ve wanted is to get these products to the market as soon as possible to provide women with an acceptable option for FRC’s. But life is a journey, and every mistake is a learning experience. I now may be overly skeptical of every encounter, but I think it has helped me avoid potentially negative situations.
PP: What’s been the most rewarding part of your career?
JG: People tell me all the time that they can’t believe I found a way to marry two completely different interests into a business that actually makes sense. Growing up, I always had a particular interest in fashion. When I went to college, I treated my first year as a learning experience and took a variety of courses from fashion history to differential equations to Mandarin language. When I accepted my first internship with Chevron, I was truly treating the experience as a trial in the industry to see if I enjoyed the work. One of the first observations I made about life in the oil field was not only the shortage of women, but also the flame-resistant clothing options that were very clearly designed for men. After that summer, I knew I wanted to be a petroleum engineer. The industry is electric, and there is an addictive feeling working for an industry that very literally fuels the world. But I always had in the back of my mind that maybe one day safety wear could be my opportunity to combine my experience in the industry and my love of fashion. This has been the most rewarding part of all.
PP: Who’s been a “gritty” role model for you and why?
JG: During the four years that I worked at Chevron, Melody Meyer was literally a celebrity — especially among the women in the workforce and certainly to me and all of my friends. I can remember on numerous occasions telling our personnel development coaches that the career I wanted was Melody’s. She joined the industry when it was even more uncommon for a female, and she surpassed thousands of men to retire as one of the top leaders in Chevron. Her reputation was positive throughout all levels of the organization. I remember very clearly reading her “Open Letter to the Chevron Woman” when she retired. She has always been an inspiration because, no matter how high she climbed the proverbial ladder, she always seems relatable and caring. I cannot imagine the setbacks and prejudices she overcame, but you would never know her struggles watching her lead a group or speak to you one-on-one.