Covergalls back a second time on Dragons’ Den
Women’s workwear company unveils Coverguys
The first time Covergalls’ founder Alicia Woods was on Dragons’ Den last fall, you could tell by the crack of the bat that it was going to be a home run. In her second appearance this past April, we got to watch it sail over the wall. However, the trajectory has changed somewhat since then – and has even gained some momentum.
The April 8 season finale of Dragons’ Den, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV show featuring entrepreneurs pitching to a panel of business moguls, found Dragon Michael Wekerle visiting Woods at Vale’s Coleman Mine in Sudbury to get feedback from the women wearing Woods’ coveralls. Vale, the world’s second-largest mining company, has 2,500 female employees company-wide. During the episode, Wekerle asked several women working at the mine how they liked Covergalls and received several enthusiastic comments.
“I’m more impressed now than I was in the Den,” Wekerle said during the episode. “I think the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
To cap off the finale, Glen Duffy, Vale’s superintendent of safety, announced on the episode that Covergalls had been approved for use at Vale’s Sudbury operations.
Viewers of the first episode remember that Woods actually gave up a 30 per cent share of her business to attract three Dragons – with Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving joining Wekerle. Dickinson and Treliving subsequently dropped out of the deal. Their exit was nothing unusual though, Woods said. “Things change – there’s a due diligence process, and it’s about seeing what’s the right fit, and what can they bring to the table.”
In her first appearance, Woods told the Dragons that her sales were $61,000 over five months, and she expected them to be at least $180,000 for the year. Woods declined to discuss numbers (Covergalls is a private company), but it would be fair to surmise that she should easily exceed those expectations – not coincidentally in large part thanks to her appearance on Dragons’ Den.
In Canada, Covergalls has been picked up for distribution by Acklands-Grainger and Cintas, among others. She is also working on a number of other distribution deals in North America as well as in Brazil and Australia, she said.
Covergalls is expanding into new industries, too, including agriculture, oil and gas, construction, and trades. This spring, she is releasing a bib overall. Both the Covergalls and the bib overall will also be available in Camo print for the outdoor adventure market. Other products in the pipeline are a pant and a shirt, Woods said.
“They’re based on companies contacting us saying, ‘Help us with our female workwear,’” she said.
The company recently teamed up with Mechanix Wear to release a new line of all-purpose safety gloves designed to fit women’s hands. Like the original Covergalls idea, the gloves came from Woods’ personal experience.
“I know for myself in the past, when I would go underground, I would just take my gloves off and put them in my belt because they never fit properly. I couldn’t write with them, I couldn’t take pictures with them, and it really defeated the purpose of having the gloves,” she said. “With this Mechanix Wear glove – I know it sounds cliché, but it really does fit like a glove. I actually don’t even realize that I have them on… I don’t take them off when I go underground.”
After the second Dragons’ Den episode aired, Woods launched Covergalls’ newest line: Coverguys. These overalls for men also offer a rear flap, one of the key features of the women’s model. It’s a feature that may give the company an advantage in the highly competitive market.
“(Men) too, in certain situations, are faced with taking the whole coverall off (when nature calls),” Woods said.
Coverguys was launched due to demand, but it won’t shift her from the company’s core business. “Our focus still remains female workwear because it’s lacking in the industry,” she said.
Covergalls is already gaining a reputation as the go-to company for women’s workwear. With an active social media presence, the Covergalls brand is getting a lot of exposure.
“It’s like creating a little community,” Woods said. “I’ve been finding that women have been really supportive of each other. I think because there hasn’t been anything out there, they’re sharing it with other women. They’re providing feedback, suggestions and ideas, and it’s great.”