ToughCutie Founder and CEO Brittany Coleman started her sock company as a way to support women as they walk through life, as adventurers, entrepreneurs, caregivers, and everything in between.
Before ToughCutie launched in 2022, Brittany worked as a business analyst in the apparel and hosiery industry. While successful in this role, the bias that permeated the industry soured the job for her.
“There was sexism in the approach of developing products for women,” Brittany explained. “As well as in the thought process of women as consumers.”
The industry considers women to be “the girlfriend of the real outdoorsmen,” Brittany said, marked by the ubiquitous “shrink it and pink it” ideology.
Because women drive the majority of consumer purchasing decisions, Brittany felt there was so much potential for designers to instead see an opportunity to serve women. “You’re not going to unlock that if you think of us as somebody’s girlfriend.”
Living in North Carolina at the time, a state rich in textile history, Brittany connected with female designers who believed in her mission to create more equality. “I had no product, no nothing,” she said. “Just an idea and a lot of conviction. That’s about it!” she laughed.
The name ToughCutie came easy and is a nod to the numerous, and often opposing, identities women assume. “As women, we have to fulfill so many roles. We can be strong and constant, but then there’s a fine line where we start getting called bossy. And if we’re not soft and caring, that can be considered problematic.”
Growing up with four brothers, Brittany herself assumed the ‘tough’ and ‘cutie’ roles early on in life.
Rather than an explosive launch, releasing ToughCutie into the world was more like a drip, Brittany said. “It was very low key at first.”
Eve The Original are the brand’s premium merino wool socks designed with feedback from women. The sock’s targeted cushioning and calibrated compression zones are in all the right places. And, they’re breathable and moisture-wicking to boot.
As a Black woman, Brittany is committed to representing ToughCutie in a positive, accessible and inclusive way. Changing the narrative that getting outside has to be something extreme is one of her missions.
“Going for a nice walk with friends or hiking on an easy trail is just as appealing as doing something rigorous,” she said. “My brand has the responsibility to show all sides.”
In the beginning, sourcing high-quality domestic yarn and meeting manufacturers’ minimums posed challenges. Brittany also needed to get over her own hang ups around imposter syndrome, she said.
“Getting to a place where appealing to a wide range of folks was acceptable, and not feeling like I have to do something different just because other brands were doing it. That’s been a ride,” she said. “The fires and challenges come and you just keep showing up.”
Brittany also noted that “it’s hard to not get pigeonholed and have people get lost in our story.”
ToughCutie’s commitment to inclusivity and USA manufacturing, with women in leadership roles throughout the value chain, isn’t just for marketing purposes — it’s the raw pieces that create a really great product.
“Bras and underwear, by nature, can be a little more personal,” Brittany said. “But, I don’t know, who doesn’t wear socks!?”