Xena is a Milwaukee-based start-up designing and manufacturing fashionable workwear for women in STEM.
The first woman-owned US-based startup focused on fashionable steel-toe boots for women in STEM launched in Milwaukee this week. Engineer, co-founder and CEO, Anastasia Kraft, started the company as a direction reaction to the lack of options she saw for women in her field wanting to portray a positive image in the manufacturing workplace.
‘The idea was born out of my own frustration,’ said Kraft. ‘I was tired of having to wear huge, ugly work boots and dressing down to match them. What you wear has a major impact on your self-confidence, which in turn impacts a number of other job-related factors, including performance, promotoability and long-term career success. Professional women deserve to feel confident when they’re moving from the shop floor to the boardroom. They deserve to have the confidence to take a seat at the table.’
Planning and product development began in 2018. Xena began by crowdsourcing the needs of different women in manufacturing and engineering to design a safety shoe specifically geared toward female professionals. What they came up with as a stylish and functional low-cut leather boot which was impact-, compression-, slip-, heat-, and chemical-resistant. After five rounds of prototypes and passing ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) testing, the company’s first low-cut boot, “Gravity”, will be available for sale beginning May 9.
In April 2019, Xena was accepted into the gBETA accelerator, a program of the nationally-ranked startup accelerator gener8or. gBETA is a seven-week accelerator for early-stage companies with local roots. The program allows Xena access to mentors who help to refine their business model, strategize for growth, gain customer traction and more.
‘gBETA is known for their competitive applicant pool. Being chosen as one of their 2019 cohorts really showed us that investors and entrepreneurs believed we had something special. I am proud to be starting a company that values expressiveness, eco-consciousness, empowerment and expanded safety.’ said Kraft. ‘Xena is made with our customers in mind, and they are at the forefront of all we do. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to introduce a new, stylish and functional product to the market. I remember how excited I was the day I got to wear our first pair of shoes to work and I haven’t stopped wearing them since.’
The company’s first shoe is available for purchase beginning May 9 on their new website and for more information on XenaWorkwear.com.