We had the good fortune of connecting with Melanie Adams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melanie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Starting as the Receptionist at a small oil and gas company at age 19, I always tried to “dress up,” emulating the women around me. I started wearing cardigans, blazers, and dresses. I quickly moved from the “Director of First Impressions” to running the mailroom and then into the operations side of the business where I would have my first experience with ill-fitting and uncomfortable flame-resistant clothing (FRC). And while I always felt confident and comfortable being the youngest (and only female) in the room at most meetings, going to the field was different. I was not always as comfortable, partly because the garments are ill-fitting and the fabric is so rough, but also, the clothing was not at all reflective of my personality, nor did it project the influence, expertise, and authority I had. For years I questioned why there weren’t more options for women, but it took my departure from Corporate America and the inspiration of Denver Startup Week 2019 to take the leap into entrepreneurship and start Embher, a female-first line of FRC that is flexible, remarkable, and comfortable. Embher is empowering women and igniting their confidence with clothing that fits great and feels good! Working in male-dominated industries is hard enough, women deserve clothing that allows them to feel comfortable, confident, and professionally appropriate in the office AND in the field. Women are dynamic, and despite being outnumbered in these industries, are taking charge across the oilfields and factory floors to the office and the C-Suite. Embher is helping to level the playing field, one outfit at a time.
What should our readers know about your business?
Born out of an experience that left me feeling less than confident in my scratchy flame-resistant coveralls, Embher is on a mission to bring equality to the FRC market. Millions of dynamic women working in oil and gas, manufacturing and utilities deserve clothing that is safe, functional and professionally appropriate. Having personally spent many years in different roles requiring field presence, I know first-hand how ill-fitting and uncomfortable the clothing can be. But even more, I know how it feels to show up to a rig not really feeling myself. And now, I want to change that feeling for millions of other women today and in the future. But where was i going to begin? I knew this was not going to be easy, but I know that my relentless drive, high energy and extreme desire to really solve this problem was going to help me get started. Also, I’m very resourceful!! I won the spelling bee in the 5th grade by asking for the definition for the word I was given – wholehearted. The judge went to the wayyyy back of the dictionary and it confirmed the spelling for me – the word definitely started with a “w” not an “h.” After that, my parents knew, if I didn’t know the answer, I was going to find out. Everything I have done from that day forward has been wholeheartedly. And so, in the last year I’ve learned more about fabrics and textiles, garment construction and tech packs than I realized I would need to but it’s been a wonderful journey so far. I find that asking questions is one of my strengths and I’m constantly learning from anyone who’s willing to teach me, especially when it comes from their own experiences. It’s most powerful that way! We get to reimagine safety workwear and give women options to choose from, and not just a pink shirt. I am passionate about solving problems with unconventional and innovative approaches. This problem is no different! I am excited at the response to Embher so far and I can’t wait to bring flexible, remarkable and comfortable FRC to the market in 2021.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This was a fun way to remind me of the beauty of my native state of Colorado! Red Rocks Park is a place like none other. The gorgeous landscape so close to the city is truly awesome. If we can’t catch a concert, we’ll hit the stairs in the morning for a good burn (with a lot of other fellow exercisers enjoying the view and burning their legs on the stairs). After freshening up, a trip to Union Station downtown for lunch. It’s the historic train station that’s been beautifully restored. It’s a bustling part of the city as a working train station and hangout spot for the trendiest of groups. There’s no shortage of options for food, beverages, and people watching! Heading up to Larimer Square where now (post-COVID) there’s dining in the streets! They have a lot of boutique shops and it’s usually decorated nicely, it’s worth a stroll. Mid-afternoon, it’s time to head to the Denver Art Museum to see whatever cool exhibit is there. Even if there is not a huge exhibit – although DAM does get a lot of amazing ones like the only city in the U.S. to get Monet – it’s worth checking out the interesting architecture of the building and there’s always something inside worth seeing. Denver has a thriving culinary scene with a ton of new restaurants popping up all over (pre-COVID, of course). Depending on the mood, there are a lot of good restaurants to choose from but my favorite restaurant, Spuntino, will forever be on my recommendation list to anyone and everyone. It’s superb. If there’s time, a trip to the mountains would be a good use of it! Within just a few minutes of Denver, the Rocky Mountains are impressive and provide lots of recreation opportunities. Depending on how far you want to go and how much time you have, places like Evergreen Lake, Estes Park, Dillon, and Breckenridge all offer activities in the most beautiful parts of colorful Colorado, some just 30 minutes away. Even a drive up I-70 will provide breathtaking views without ever leaving the car!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It takes a village. Fortunately, I have a deep network that has been unwavering in their support of my venture from my former work colleagues to my new entrepreneur and powerful women circles. A few specific shoutouts to my amazingly supportive husband who encourages me to step outside of my comfort zone daily, my family who has no doubt in my abilities, my brilliant startup coach, Arezou Zarafshan, who has kept me accountable and provided incredible business guidance, my fabulous patternmaker and teacher David who has taught me about fabric and garment construction as his student, my high school friend Darren who has helped me develop, refine and polish the brand as it is today and lastly, my founding advisor, Nancy Haley, who has given me the utmost confidence in my idea and supports my risk-taking nature. She once said “Melanie, in order to be successful, sometimes you have to hang your ass in the wind! In other words – ‘take a chance!’” Here’s to taking that chance!