One beautiful summer afternoon, the sister-in-law of finalist Denise Czack, Officer Tanya Sirl, was about to finish her shift. Five minutes before quitting time, a call came in indicating that two juvenile males had fled the scene of a traffic stop. All of the sudden she saw the boys running through a neighborhood and in an instant she was in pursuit. After scaling two fences and crossing two busy streets she caught them. While handcuffing the suspects, she noticed a pleasant, yet disconcerting breeze…the familiar feeling of a “police wardrobe mishap.” With a ripped seam and a torn ego she marched through the neighborhood, one hand on her criminal, the other holding together her pants and her dignity.
This wasn’t the first time this unfortunate malfunction had occurred. In fact, when Denise’s sister-in-law got back to the station, the dispatching officer’s response was…NOT AGAIN!! You see, Officer Sirl’s pants did not fit properly and this seam splitting embarrassment was happening on a monthly basis! This final mishap sent Officer Sirl into a tizzy. The uniforms not only fit poorly, the poor fit hindered her ability to quickly draw her weapon and jeopardized her safety. Now I know what you are thinking, buy some pants that fit and get over it! And it should be that easy…shouldn’t it? Officer Sirl was on a mission.
Much to her chagrin, Officer Sirl found nothing and was told there “simply wasn’t a need” for women officer’s pants. After a great deal of research, Officer Sirl faced a harsh reality, women officers look like they are wearing men’s clothes because they are, and they are wearing men’s clothes because they don’t have a choice and it wasn’t just her. Over 400,000 female police officers, not to mention countless court security and private security officers across the U.S., were facing the same problem. Frustrated and annoyed she left to meet Denise for a dinner and a venting session.
When the ladies arrived at dinner that evening, there wasn’t a single manufacturer of women’s officer uniforms (and by that I mean uniforms actually designed for women, not men’s uniforms in disguise), but Officer Sirl knew Denise’s entrepreneurial spirit would drive her to find a solution. By the time dinner was over, a fledgling company was beginning to take form. That fledgling company evolved into Her BlueWear Uniforms.
Denise started playing with the bad girls in the fall of last year and took several classes during BGV Cleveland’s Inaugural Session. This spring she applied and became a finalist in our lending program. When asked what her favorite thing about being a BGV finalist, Denise explained that she enjoys working with like-minded women because she is inspired by their energy and encouraged by the camaraderie she feels.
While the folks here at BGV can certainly come up with many positive things to say about Her BlueWear Uniforms, one of the most important things to Denise is that her business is all about women supporting women. She is constantly inspired by women in public safety and sees her business as a way of giving back to those that put their lives on the line for our safety.
Lucky for Denise, there are many people who have been inspired by her and who have helped her along the way. She would like to personally thank Ken Hirsch Western Reserve Partners for steering her in the right direction and Jennifer Thomas from the Knights Foundation for believing in her. Denise was also lucky to have an amazing mentor for the last two years, Kevin Shaw. I can personally attest to the greatness of Kevin Shaw because I am privileged to serve with him at Cleveland Social Venture Partners. Denise also works with Bad Girl Sandy Early, a trusted advisor to BGV, who Denise describes as exuding zest and having a sincere appreciation for entrepreneurs. Denise is blessed to have so many supporters, but she finds that her children’s constant encouragement and willingness to sacrifice for her dream is the most meaningful support of all.
While this story ends with a list of thank you’s for those who have helped develop what will undoubtably be a successful business, it began with a simple embarrassing moment. It is this progression from inconvenience to idea that marks an entrepreneurial spirit. It is the drive, determination, and flat out bravery required to turn an idea into a business that marks a Bad Girl.
Rachel Czernin, Director of Marketing and Development, Bad Girl Ventures, Inc.
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