I got to see Sarah when I went to my first AERO workshop back in 2016!
Sarah Calhoun, founder of Red Ants Pants a company designed to make workwear for women out of necessity, Sarah needed pants that fit and would hold up doing outdoor work!
Sarah, grew up on a farm in Cornwall, Connecticut where her grandparents had a dairy and parents raised Llama’s in the ’70’s and ’80’s some of the oldest breeders in New England. Her mom grew some veggies but mostly had beautiful gardens that required Sarah to do a lot of weeding and picking of beetles to put in containers of soapy water.
She was working on trail crews around Big Sky Country here in Montana, when she decided to start a women’s wear company. In search of a business plan, she found her self reading Small Business For Dummies in a Bozeman coffee shop and just happened to meet a mentor who did production and design for 20 years at Patagonia, who would eventually join her board of advisors. After a year, she decided she wanted to be in a smaller town, and having just read on of Ivan Doig’s memoir, she decided to open up shop in his hometown of White Sulfur Springs back in 2006.
For profit vs non-profit
I asked Sarah about her board of advisors, and she explained that a company has a board of advisors that are like mentors who she goes rafting with and talks to about business, where as the Red Ants Pants Foundation which is a proper 501-C3 non-profit, has an official Board of Directors. The Red Ants Pants Foundation promotes women’s leadership.
Red Ants Pants Music Festival
After 5 years in business they decided to take things to the next level, and got the community on board and planned a concert to raise money for the Foundation, back in 2011 and to their surprise 6000 people showed up. They’ve had up to 18,000 people come over the years to see amazing guests including Charley Pride, Brandi Carlile, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, Dwight Yoakam, Wynonna Judd, Lyle Lovett, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Corb Lund, and Ben Bullington.
Heading into their 10th year, they’ve learned a lot, like the need to have specific staff on the operations team, running logistics, and managing over 220 volunteers. Sarah herself’s biggest take away is self care, asking for help, not trying to do everything herself, which is still a challenge.
Proceeds from the Music Festival support community grants for folks in Montana, projects ranging from:
- community gardens
- welding women’s helmets
- community libraries
- buying a mule for the only women’s owned outfitter in the Bob Marshall –
Broad diverse group of applicants.
They also teach timber skills, hosting chainsaw and carpentry for women workshops.
New Girls Leadership Program
Recently launched a girl’s leadership program for 8 girls selected from rural Montana in their junior year of H.S. where they can attend retreats, webinars, meet local women leaders, and connect with young professional mentors and complete a project back in their community.
Developing hope for youth, pride in rural communities, strength and courage in our leadership.
The Red Ants Pants company makes 2 lines of work pants that are sewn here in the US by a mother/daughter workshop in Seattle. Burley, heavy duty.
New pair of GSD “Get sh*t done” pants that have a touch of stretch
Looking for wool supplier for vests.
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization you’re passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
Civility – there’s a Copper Mine coming in and she believes that the propaganda on both sides, people need to talk and listen to each other from both sides honestly find a fundamental understanding of others.