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Meet Dianne Finnigan, CEO, Speaker & Youth Mentor

headshot of Dianne Finnigan

What does Empowering Women mean to you?

It is important for us to make a difference in these women's lives. That's why we ask the colleges what they are looking for. We develop it with a team of female fashion designers in Toronto, we translate the features women have chosen and we have the apprentices test our workwear what they like and dislike and make the changes needed. Currently, we have donated over $38,000.00 worth of workwear to apprentices, women in post secondary schools, and women at risk and transitioning their lives.

How did you get started working in your field?

The Dirty Seahorse was born when my daughter Chantel could not find proper fitting workwear. What I thought was an isolated incident I soon came to realize that was a huge problem for women in skilled trades.

So, we conducted 9 months of market research interviewed and surveyed women in the trades-- what women wanted and needed.

We found out that women's workwear was ill-fitting, non-functional and unsafe. It was workwear based off a man’s profile. It was unisex workwear that was a scaled down men's version with the crotch hanging to their knees with flipper arms and feet. That creates a tripping hazard or gets caught in machinery. It is the root cause of a staggering 40% of all worksite injuries are due to ill-fitting wear. After completing our research I took Chantel to have her measurements done, created a female profile and with the research from the women we interviewed, we took the features they chose and translated them into our workwear. We developed special features designed specifically to the needs of women: a feminine hygiene, extra deep pocket, cinch waist that can be adjusted for seasonality and abrasion and water resistant panels for durability.

What do you love most about your job? / What are you most proud of?

I love it then I interact with women and they tell us we have done good, they love our garments and that they have changed their lives for the better.

What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work?

Don't give up on your dream no matter what other people think or tell you. If you need help don't be afraid to ask for it.

Believe or not I used to have social anxiety and would have panic attacks. I used to be afraid to ask for help, as I grow older I realized that you need other people to help you!

I had a horrific incident happen to me that changed my life and view forever. I was at my lowest point in my life, I went through a divorce, my house burning down, being burnt in the fire, being homeless for a year and my mother dying of cancer all within one year. Let me tell you it was a very humbling experience and one that I will never forget. It was through the kindness of strangers that my life was turned around. I rebuilt my life, starting with my house and went back to school. I started volunteering for various charities and started to feel good about myself.

It is because of these circumstances that I feel it's important whether its donating workwear and volunteering my time to interns that help us build our business. It's important to help future generations of women to come. If I can help I will.

The one thing in life I have learned is resilience and how to overcome obstacles. So when people tell me it can't be done it makes me even more determined just is the case with The Dirty Seahorse.

Anything else you would like to add?

In case you're wondering why The Dirty Seahorse. We chose it specifically because women can also work in the Dirty and in the Seahorse world the roles are reversed. The males take care of the babies.

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