Photo by Alexis Courtney courtesy Handyma’am Goods
Bella Weinstein loves to get her hands dirty. “I do a little bit of woodworking on the side,” she says. “I like to rip stuff off of houses and put it together again, it’s just something that I enjoy doing.”
Looking for quality work wear, she found few options for women, forcing many to settle for clothing designed for men. But that can be problematic, according to Weinstein: “It’s actually unsafe because it’s too baggy in places and so having something that’s a little bit more fitted or makes you feel more professional on the job [is important].”
So, while living in New York City, Weinstein and four friends started Handyma’am Goods. Launched in 2015, it offers a selection of durable, American-made work clothing for women. There are two core items in its line, a drapon ($165), which is a water-repellent garment with multiple pockets that serves as an apron or can be worn as a dress; and fitted coveralls ($325.)
“We’re looking for the best quality fabrics, threads, so that they hold up, but we also care a lot about the quality of how they’re sewn, so we’re willing to pay a little bit more for that,” Weinstein says. She adds that customers are unused to paying U.S. manufacturing prices for goods, and “that’s our biggest struggle,” she says.
Bella Weinstein (with her dog Bodhi Randy) is the founder of Handyma’am Goods. (Photo by Graham Loft)
Weinstein now lives in Richmond with her boyfriend, James Lum, who co-owns JM Stock Provisions in the Fan. She says she and Lum have a similar duty to educate customers about where food and clothing come from. “I think that fast fashion is just terrible for the environment,” she says. “Pants shouldn’t cost $5; think about it.”
She also acknowledges that people are more reluctant to spend extra money on an article of clothing that they will be working in. “But if you’re a farmer or you’re a woodworker and you’re putting the same thing on every day, break that down and don’t you want it to last?”
The clothing is manufactured in New York and, beginning this month, in Scott’s Addition. Weinstein is collaborating with another local woman-owned clothing company, Worse for Wear, which manufactures women’s motorcycle apparel at 3012 W. Broad St. While the companies remain their own entities, they both utilize the facility’s production space.
For Weinstein and her cohorts, the work wear goes beyond giving women durable options; it’s about supporting all women in all trades, from the tree cutter to the auto shop owner. They highlight women devoted to trades on their website, and Weinstein says they plan to expand these features as their revamped website goes live this month.
Previously the coveralls were only available in small production runs, but they are now made-to-order, creating a more customized product. Also look for the chore coat, a durable jacket available this month.
Find Handyma’am’s products on their website, handymaamgoods.com. Drapons are also available at Rosewood Clothing Co., 16 W. Broad St.