2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2, Page #32[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
"Red Ants Pants"
Designing the pants was not Calhoun’s dream. She was more comfortable working on her parents’ farm, cutting firewood or leading Outward Bound adventurers. What wasn’t comfortable were her pants. And when she asked several apparel companies to do something about it, they shrugged her off.
So, at 25 and naive about the challenges of starting a business, she drew up design ideas and spent 8 mos. working with a woman who created patterns on a computer. The result was 70 different sizes according to waist and inseam and two basic styles of pants – straight and curvy – made out of chocolate brown 12 oz. cotton canvas duck.
“To me it’s a great color that goes with everything and hides the dirt well,” Calhoun says. She recommends customers break them in with a couple of washes. “Then they’re super soft to wear,” she says.
Calhoun notes proudly that they’re made in the U.S. in Seattle and only sold through her White Sulphur Springs, Mont., store and her business’s website. Besides the pants, she sells other clothing including belts, aprons, T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats – all made in the U.S.
Customers remember the pants and the name, which popped into her head and seemed appropriate when she learned female ants do all the work in an ant colony. Customers come from a variety of careers – agriculture, construction, logging and all the trades. Some just want them to work in the garden or do landscaping.
Customers are willing to pay the $129 cost because they are durable, they fit right and are U.S. made.
“What’s really been fascinating is how much these pants mean to our customers,” Calhoun says. “We get good feedback. They say it feels like someone listened to them.”
And, as it turns out, some of the newest customers are men, who find that the straight style pants work for them.
Along with her business, Calhoun has founded a successful nonprofit that brings thousands of visitors to her town (pop. 900). This year’s 3rd annual Red Ants Pants Music Festival (July 25-28) includes Merle Haggard. Profits from the festival fund grant recipients, who provide educational and leadership workshops and projects.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Sarah Calhoun, Red Ants Pants LLC, P.O. Box 690, White Sulphur Springs, Mont. 59645 (ph 406 547-3781; www.redantspants.com).
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