Ana Kraft knows firsthand the challenges that women face working in the STEM and manufacturing industries. It doesn’t help when companies that develop PPE work products ignore the personal needs of women because these needs only make-up a percentage of total industry sales.
When Ana launched Xena Workwear she didn’t just want to develop a great new product for professional women. She wanted to connect and help women on a personal level. This is a story of how an early customer request gave Xena a chance to bring Ana’s vision to life.
Jenn, an Engineer and a Badass
Jenn Kovac is an advanced manufacturing engineer at GE Healthcare specializing in Computerized Tomography detectors. She also competes in the Redbull 400-meter race, donates resources to nonprofit organizations that fight poverty, and has a special love for helping dogs.
Jenn takes her doggos everywhere!
Jenn discovered Xena through a friend who wrote an article for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featuring Ana’s story. Jenn immediately rushed to pre-order her first pair of Xenas well before the official launch.
I was so thrilled to see a steel-toed shoe so stylish and functional, Xena was exactly what I've been looking for!
Then in mid-June of 2019, Jenn was finishing her GE assignment in Salt Lake City and preparing to transfer to the Waukesha facility. Unfortunately, she had to undergo shoulder surgery right before her move. This normally wouldn’t be a concern, but Jenn’s limited mobility prevented her from being able to tie the laces of her regular work boots.
Jenn knew that the Xena Gravity steel-toes had convenient zippers that would solve her problem, but noticed that pre-orders were not ready to ship and would definitely not arrive in time for her first day at Waukesha.
The weekend was fast approaching and if I didn't receive my Xenas by Sunday night I wasn’t sure if I'd even be able to go in and perform my job. Talk about a dreadful first impression. I reached out to Ana on Facebook to see if a miracle was possible.
Mission Jenn is a Go
Jenn shared that she’d be flying into Milwaukee on Friday evening and was hoping to meet with Ana over the weekend. The Xena team knew right away that they needed to help. A plan was hatched and put in motion to surprise Jenn with her pair of Xena safety booties at the airport!
There was only one flight that landed from Salt Lake City in Milwaukee that evening pinpointing Jenn’s exact arrival time. The MKE Airport map showed that there was a singular pathway where Jenn would be exiting from. And so with only an hour to spare the plan was set and Ana left for the airport!
Notes for where and how Ana surprised Jenn at the MKE Airport
Once on location at the airport, Ana had to scan all the exiting crowds trying to spot a woman with a shoulder cast who we only knew by her Facebook profile picture. Each minute tensely passed as the potential for a missed connection increased…
Ana totally surprised me at the airport holding a sign with my name. I couldn't believe it! After everything I went through, it was a huge relief to see my Xena shoes in person well before I had to go back to work Monday. I can't thank Ana enough for being so supportive on such short notice!
Power of a Human Connection
Jenn has since become Ana’s friend and one of Xena’s most passionate supporters. She proudly wears her steel-toes at GE Healthcare and is helping to spread the word about the brand and vision!
What inspires me most is the community of women that is coming together to support each other in the engineering fields. I used to be self-conscious of how my professional wear looked with my old safety boots. Thanks to Xena, I can wear jeans or a dress and perform my job with personality and confidence!
Jenn rocking her Xena Gravity Steel-Toe shoes
This unforgettable first delivery meant the world to Jenn, but it was just as important to the Xena team. Jenn’s delight reinforced the importance of listening to customers and establishing a human connection with them. In an e-commerce world filled with digital coldness, it’s more important than ever to have genuine and personal moments.
Xena lives by its Midwest values where each customer is treated with kindness, warmth, and love. A bit of planning and a lot of heart goes a long way toward bringing For Women By Women words to life!
By Courtney Faye Brown. Courtney illuminates relatable stories that raise awareness and help to advocate for women empowerment. She is the official writer at Xena Workwear.