My experience at Women In Textiles Summit in one word: Amazing!

Posted Fri, Mar 8, 2024 in Press Media

See original post HERE

I was so excited to return to the Advanced Textiles Association's (ATA's) Women In Textiles Summit 2024 in Phoenix, Ariz., for the unique opportunity to focus on personal and professional development in a space that encourages relationships and real talk with women across the industry. I am thrilled to have found this group for support, education and comradery, as we each navigate our respective journeys.


We kicked off the week with bang – literally – at Breakthrough! A Smash Room Experience. Ladies suited up in jumpsuits (unfortunately they weren’t pink like in Barbie, but that’s OK), and we let off some steam before the conference officially began. It was a fun way to break the ice while we broke a LOT of glass. The evening welcome reception offered a more relaxed atmosphere, with glow in the dark mini golf and a friendship bracelet station, where we were encouraged to make bracelets with words that felt empowering.

The next morning, the first day of the conference, featured an ATA favorite speaker, Dr. Melissa Furman (Career Potential LLC), as the opening keynote. I love her approach to the topic of workforce development, especially for women. She encouraged us to think about our “best day ever” to better understand what drives us and how to find that feeling more often by figuring out the common denominator. Attendees wrote out a list of her skills, determining whether those skills felt “motivating,” or things we felt “burnout” over. Setting tangible and measurable goals, asking ourselves probing questions and gaining a better understanding for ourselves, ultimately will help us to figure out how to achieve those goals. We identified our “badass name” and later went into a speed networking session to practice our elevator pitch, and learn about each other.

Next, we received a presentation from Sarah Cobb (Digital Marketing Specialist, Mermet USA) on Social Media and Blogging in the Textile Manufacturing Industry. As an avid social media user, I appreciated this topic and getting a different perspective on presenting from a brand or manufacturing perspective vs. an individual. We were encouraged to find inspiration and adapt ideas and concepts to our own audience, and she discussed how blogs in particular can be a great resource for your clients, and can be a great way to share expertise and industry trends.


Participating in a "Women in Textiles Making Great Things” panel are (L-R) Jennifer Fennell, Polo Custom Products; Xochil Herrera Scheer, The Chicago Pattern Maker; Clelia Parisi, Apex Mills; and moderator Kaylee Smith, Mehler Engineered Products.

It was an absolute honor to take the stage this year for the panel discussion “Women In Advanced Textiles Making Great Things.” I enjoyed having the opportunity to share my story of how I grew my business from a lone freelancer working on basically every project I could, to having a small team and being so in demand I get to choose who and what I work on, and being able to create beautiful, functional products, especially those that impact lives. I highlighted some of my more technical projects, including tactical pants (KADRI), women’s workwear and safety vest (XENA WORKWEAR), size-inclusive activewear (DEFINE BOLD), and maternity/nursing apparel (OF AN ORIGIN) – each designed by women.

The panel was moderated by Kaylee Smith (Mehler Engineered Products), and included Jennifer Fennell (Polo Custom Products) and Clelia Parisi (Apex Mills Corp). These incredible women have amazing stories of their own, and I appreciate the opportunity to be included alongside them for this inspiring conversation. The day ended with a delightful Galentine's Day dinner and trivia competition.


The second day opened with an impactful and heartfelt story of overcoming personal health challenges and adversity by the inspiring Amy Rivera (Ninjas Fighting Lymphedema Foundation). She led an exercise where we took perceived weaknesses and re-framed them into strengths or areas for development.

Next we heard from Dr. Holly Morris (Hand Surgeon, Medical Textile Expert), where she shared her experiences from the operating room and how it inspired her to delve deeper into the massive waste issue, and research potential solutions for creating a more sustainable environment through the use of specialty textiles, and advanced laundry processes for the safe reuse of gowns and other textile products. The image she shared of a woman surrounded by all of the individual disposable items used for one single surgery, was quite eye opening.

“Techstyles to Help Us Live Well” with Billie Whitehouse (Wearable X) was a super intriguing glimpse into the possibilities of design which incorporates AI powered technology, and she explained how she created a line of yoga clothes with sensors that linked with an app to guide users through workouts and lessons tailored to their specific movements. She also shared some of her projects working in collaboration with Google, Durex and others.

Breakout sessions during the conference included time split among interest areas, and level of experience, giving different opportunities to connect with others dealing with similar issues at work or in life, and learning from one another.


The final day wrapped with a presentation by Apurba Banerjee (Standard Textile), and Nicole Holroyd (Spiritus Systems) called “Mind The Gap: Women in U.S. Textile Manufacturing,” which outlined statistics and analysis for the differences between hiring and pay practices between men and women across the industry, in various roles, and audits of their respective companies to see how they stacked up against the national averages. They offered insight into how to close that gap through regular audits, setting levels within the company, and performing regular audits into improvements including continuing education and training to help employees level up.

A week of sisterhood came to a close with an evening outing to Wine Girl Scottsdale, for a relaxed vibe and continued conversation and networking before everyone headed home.

Holroyd and Jasmine Cox, executive director of the Textile Technology Center at Gaston College, did an incredible job as this year’s co-emcees.

All in all, there was a lot packed into a short week, but I know I’m not alone in that I left feeling energized and inspired. The group does a great job of keeping the connections going after the event through a LinkedIn group and there are several instances where there are mini-meetups at other industry events and tradeshows, so we can always find a friendly female face in the crowd.

I’d highly recommend this experience to any woman looking for a conference focused on leadership, professional growth, and fun feminine spirit. Thank you ATA for this amazing event!

Tagged press media womenintextiles advancedtextilesassociation

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