by Emily Coulter, ’98, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, SCA Staff
“Hey Ladies, have you given up trying to find work pants that fit?” That’s the question posed by SCA Crew Leader (’02, ’03, ’04) Sarah Calhoun, who didn’t give up, but decided to solve the problem by forming her own company to create work pants for women.
Sarah, who also serves as SCA’s current Crew Leader Training Cook, owns and runs the Red Ants Pants LLC out of White Sulphur Springs, MT. It specializes in work pants for women with plans to expand to other stylish, functional work wear items in the future including bibs, vests, and wool pants. Women and men all over the country (and a few international hot spots) are sporting the yellow label graced with five little red ants.
Sarah came up with the idea for her company while working for SCA and other outdoor work organizations. Like a lot of women in the outdoor industry, Sarah was finding it difficult to fit into men’s work pants. While the pants had two legs and a zipper, they didn’t feel quite right on a woman’s frame. They required being pulled up high over the belly or riding too low in the seat. Men’s pants were often just right in the hips, but then bunched up with extra fabric on the waist. Even with the thicker fabric, they didn’t last long and blew out in places they shouldn’t. Sarah took all of this into consideration and made a work pant design cut JUST for a woman. She opened up shop in October 2006 and has been making quality workpants ever since.
Sarah began leading SCA high school crews in ’02 with SCA’s Equipment Manager/Veteran Crew Leader Nelson Bruni down in the Big South Fork, TN. She settled into the SCA family in ’03 with now-SCA Workskills Instructor/Veteran Crew Leader Jedediah Talbot; assisted in starting up the SCA California Wildfire Recovery Project in ’04; and lead with none other than Lightly on the Land author and SCA legend himself Bob Birkby in ’04 as well. She formed her Red Ants Pants LLC company in ’05 but couldn’t imagine a summer without an SCA fix, so she entered the ranks of SCA Cookstaff during that spring’s Crew Leader Training.
Why the name Red Ants Pants? It’s a great question that a lot of folks ask. The premise is simple: in an ant colony, the female ants do all of the work, including the matriarch queen. It’s not such a bad deal for the ants, or for the females of our species, especially when the work includes running a chain saw, mastering a rock drill, engineering new trail, educating outdoor enthusiast volunteers, or even leading an SCA Crew.
The Red Ants Pants come in 70 sizes total, featuring both a Curvy and a Straight style. They are fit by waist/inseam measurements- so no guessing about “fashion” sizes. The pants are bootcut to fit over sturdy boots, chocolate brown to hide the dirt, and complete with red stitching to avoid grommets AND make them stylish as well! The pants feature a drop waist in the front, but designed a bit higher in the back so crouching low doesn’t result in an unintended peepshow. A contoured waistband and double reinforced front (waist to just below the knee) and seat (waist to mid-hip) allow ample movement and longevity that outlasts all of the competitors. The pants are made with a 12-ounce duck cotton here in the United States at a mother/daughter-owned factory in Seattle.
Although the pants are designed specifically with the working woman in mind, the Red Ants Pants have many male supporters (check out www.redantspants.com for fun photos). Because Sarah provides such a wide range of sizes, she succeeds in providing a pant that fits, flatters, and functions for all.
During the spring of ’07, while kicking back with other members of the SCA Training Cook Crew, Sarah and the gals threw out the idea of taking the Pants on the road! So in the early reaches of ’08, Sarah joined current SCA High School Staff Emily Coulter and SCA Workskills Instructor Erin Amadon in New England to kick off a traveling pants tour, spreading the goodness of Red Ants Pants throughout the country.
Starting in Charlestown, NH at SCA Headquarters the ladies have hauled all 70 try-on pairs of pants, a whole lot of free shwag (stickers, cozies, postcards, etc), and an epic slideshow to the wilds of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and Canada. They have connected with family and friends, former SCA colleagues and legends, both men and women alike. They’ve sold pants, sampled local brew and fare, and had a great time. Emily has even been able to “recruit” for SCA Crew Leaders while pitching the pants on the road.
For the future, Sarah continues to empower women through her uncanny ability to make them feel at ease in their own bodies with a pair of workpants that finally fit. She and an assortment of Montana neighbors have recently wrapped up filming a commercial promoting the wonders of Red Ants Pants. Stay tuned to YouTube for the world premiere! She is also currently in cahoots with the Montana state legislature to create a market for Montana wool. Besides capitalizing on a market niche, Sarah hopes to create employment and community by providing 100% Montana wool pants someday soon.
If you happen to be out west, be sure to visit Sarah’s shop in White Sulphur Springs, Montana and of course check out the website www.redantspants.com. If you missed the New England Roadshow please email Sarah firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a condensed party version complete with the slideshow and Q&A session with a local representative, or stay tuned for a Pacific Northwest tour during Fall ’08. Happy Trails…see you at training!
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