The Women Charting Our New Course Forward
Meet the team that made women’s specific marine gear a thing of the present - and a forever-element of Mustang Survival’s future.
Creating more diversity, equity and equality in the marine community matters.
Seeing the growth in marine sport participation has been inspiring - and meeting the needs of women athletes with pieces and styles specifically created to make their activity easier, more comfortable, technically more advanced and all around a more empowered experience is what we’re excited to offer the industry now with the launch of the first line of women’s gear and apparel.
And, to continue to offer as marine adventure—and women’s participation and leadership in marine activities—continues to expand.
Get ready to meet the team that innovated, engineered and brought to life Mustang Survival’s new line of gear aimed at women heading out on an adventure; taking on challenges and charging forth in pursuit of everything that lies beyond land.
These are the passionate hearts, incredible minds and wickedly skilled women behind the gear.
As the Category Manager, Vanessa’s at the helm of product for the Paddling, Sailing, Angling and Marine Essentials categories. What does that mean?
“I track sales trends and analyze the competition to create exciting product assortments. I brief in the product criteria and then design takes over!”
Vanessa was a key catalyst in the women’s line materializing, and coming to life with gear ergonomically-designed and engineered specifically for women. Keeping her eye on the market, not only did she see the gap for women-specific technical marine gear, in particular she saw the biggest gap in the dry suit space. And so, the Helix was born. #ThankYouVanessa.
Getting women the gear they need to take on the marine adventures and environments they’re keen to chase means more than building comfortable, functional and effective gear. For Vanessa, it’s about elevating inclusivity and creating a new future for women in sport.
“It is important to grow [marine sports] and women’s participation in them.
Let's go back 20-25 years and look at the snowboarding industry as an example. In the mid nineties there were only a couple women's snowboard clothing brands. By the 2000's, Roxy, Nikita and Burton recognized the potential. Until then, women were reluctant to pick up the sport because there wasn't anything for them to wear. Nothing says ‘You don't belong here’ than a whole section of men's clothing options.”
Because women do belong - anywhere and in every sport...marine sports included.
Her go-to piece?
“The Torrens; because it is an essential for all marine adventures. It will go everywhere. The Polartec Alpha insulation throughout is so freaky in its ability regulate temperature. And, I love how cozy and soft it is.”
Adventure + sport had been in Sophie’s cells and a part of her life since the beginning; growing up playing outdoors in the Quebec countryside, mastering winter sports during the (really) cold months, and spending time at the lakes in the summer.
Ensuring the Mustang Survival DNA is woven (literally) into every piece of gear we make, as the Design and Development Manager she looks after the recreation product from design to finished product development.
When asked what was the most important element that makes the line successful, Sophie pointed to all the work they did to tailor the fit.
‘Nailing the women’s fit without compromising on the function and innovation of the product mattered a lot. It’s what will set the Mustang Survival Women’s Line apart + cultivate lifetime fans that rely on us for the toughest gear with the best fit on the market.’
With a lifetime of participation in sport under her belt, Sophie can appreciate what it’ll mean for women getting out on the water to do so in gear that actually fits...and helps them thrive in their sports and adventures as a result.
Part Project Manager, part Product Development Engineer, Polly’s ingenuity, strategic outlook and passion for innovation made a huge mark on the Helix Dry Suit coming to life.
“Challenging the status-quo mattered a lot in this project. Mustang has at least 50 years of experience in designing life-saving equipment and apparel, and most of that was built on male ergonomics. From my perspective of developing the first women's dry suit line, I have to fight the thought-momentum coming from decades of existing male dry suit thinking and make sure we are thinking of women's needs when putting the product together rather than the "easy" option of converting a men's product. We had to create new validation tests and create a new test user base, but it was all worth it.”
She also sees the strategic approach to launching a women’s line all at once as a means to lay a stellar foundation for the future of women’s products:
“There isn't a platform for women's technical apparel line here at Mustang for straggler products to be responsibly supported for practical use, so the due diligence for the best customer experience is to create the long overdue collection to start that platform.”
What does that mean for the long run? The ability to move more quickly, innovate with more speed, and bring more great gear to women in the marine community - more regularly.
From 3-D to 2-D and back again, Sharon’s the mastermind and Senior Pattern Technologist that translates a designer’s vision into a pattern that pieces together the garments and gear you end up purchasing.
Because the whole project was based on taking each piece and engineering it from the ground up, Sharon knew she’d be starting from scratch - and working with all new numbers.
“Women's shapes are different then men's—the numbers prove it. So, why not build to the women's measurement specifications so women will be as comfortable as possible in their user environment?
Working with the ‘new numbers’ and measurement specifications, because it is a women's line of products, I focused on achieving a global fit that will hopefully, fit as many women as possible!”
It’s cool to reflect on how her introduction to getting into the outdoor sport space was very much unisex + coed—with girls and boys sharing a ‘girls’ ski set up. A situation so often reversed, it’s an amazing contribution Sharon’s work has made—and will continue to make—to carving out more space specifically for women in the wild world of marine sport.
Design, build, test, repeat. And in that third step—the testing space—we sought out a specific kind of user to take what the team had built, and really put it to the test. Laura Fergusson, Manager of Ambassadors + Events was the essential link to getting gear into the right hands to aid the iteration process, and dial in the goods so the most demanding users couldn’t poke holes in them.
“I spend my time working on developing relationships with ambassadors and influencers as well as planning consumer facing events. Basically, my goal is to form strong relationships with people who love our brand and our product. These bonds give us an opportunity to create an essential feedback loop for design.”
Longtime participant in the outdoor space (and huge advocate for women’s participation in sport), Laura’s enthusiasm for the line is palpable, and personal:
“As they say, it's 2021 and we ladies are 50% of the population! We need product that fits and functions well for us in marine environments just as much as our male counterparts do. It just makes sense! Also, I can’t wait to add a Helix Dry Suit to my gear locker so I can head out for fall/winter paddling!”
She’s writing this. Actually.
Working to understand the genesis of the project, tuning into all the hard work of the design and engineering team, and bringing all the dynamic puzzle pieces of the story of this innovation into one place, as a copywriter on many a Mustang Survival project, Jess has woven the fibers of the story of the women’s line together.
“I had the privilege of helping to develop the women's story; the words that express the why, how + what of the line itself. That work extended out into writing the product descriptions and supporting more women writers to get their work on the blog in a powerful way through some editing and coaching as they found, and continue to use, their voice to tell their stories of their (pretty amazing) pursuits on, in and around the water.”
Early days of camping and swimming in Alberta’s mountain scapes on an annual Daddy-Daughter camp trip with a gaggle of other families, Jess’s introduction to the outdoors was always about girls being out in the woods, finding their way along and around new paths and new challenges (inclusive of being locked in outhouses...more than once).
“I was always taught that we (myself and my sister) were capable of anything we wanted to do, or wanted to try. And, removing barriers to make doing + trying easier matters. In the case of engineered gear for women’s bodies and biology, so women can get out and get after it without having to fight to make it work.’