Jodi Huettner is a woman on a mission. With a passion for what’s right and just, Jodi is the driving force to have by your side throughout any difficulty. She started her journey in the trades as a junior engineer for an environmental consulting firm in British Columbia (BC). She worked along the Howe Sound, often on decommissioning projects like the Woodfiber pulp and paper mill, as well as other substantial industrial projects. “I was the young female engineer standing there with specs (construction specifications), totally green working with all types of trades people, and trades men who have been on the job for over twenty years. I had the specs that said what the client wanted, and the workers came in with decades of experience and knowledge on how they should operate things. It was a huge challenge if both parties weren’t on the same page.”
Jodi soon discovered that her biggest challenge was not those she worked with but her mandatory work attire. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is compulsory on any construction site. It can be a helmet, Hi-Vis vest, goggles, coveralls, or anything else that helps prevent injury and/or infection from the wearer. “The PPE coveralls I was wearing made me look ridiculous and didn’t let me go to the bathroom.” As the junior engineer, Jodi didn’t just hold specs. Jodi oversaw and took all the soil, water, and vapor samples, which was very physical work. She had to move all the equipment to each location, well, and site (there can be hundreds of sampling locations on each site). “For me, if I had to go to the bathroom, I’d have to undress, lower my rain gear, take off my high-vis vest, and anything else around my midsection, then I’d have to find somewhere to put it, then half strip, sometimes in the pouring rain, just to take a quick pee.”
Luckily, Jodi has been a sewer her whole life, so modifying her PPE was not a huge challenge. After making a few prototypes, she finally created a PPE coverall that did not get her laughed off the worksite, worked very well for her, and allowed her to take a quick “bathroom break” without taking any gear off and not exposing herself. Her thoughts were, “if I’m experiencing this problem, there must be other women that can benefit from what I just made. Even if there aren’t, there must be better options for women in terms of PPE. That’s when I decided to take a crack at it, and Helga Wear was born.”
Helga Wear is leading the revolution towards women’s workplace equity with properly fitting PPE on the job. Helga Wear fights for inclusivity and safety standards for personal protective equipment. Now Jodi can do what she loves in the comfort and safety of her Helga Wear attire.
For more information on Helga Wear and their incredibly innovative PPE for women, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the President and CEO of Helga Wear, Jodi Huettner, through her website:
Written by: Savannah Davis, ClearWater Communications Co.