By Lisa Parsons-Wraith
Gone are the days when women had to make due with men’s hunting clothes. As more and more women take an interest in the shooting sports, several companies have sprung up to fill this much needed void. Best of all, because many of these companies are women-owned and women design the products, they truly meet a woman’s needs.
Passion for the shooting sports and a love of fashion are the driving force behind Girls With Guns (GWG), an outdoors-lifestyle apparel company.
In 2008, avid outdoorswomen Norissa Harman and Jen O’Hara recognized the need for fashionable outdoor lifestyle apparel and began creating embroidered hats and T-shirts in their spare time. Since its humble beginnings in their garage, GWG has grown by leaps and bounds. They moved their operation to a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in 2013 and devoted themselves full-time to the company.
“One thing that sets us apart from other companies is there are two women behind the dream,” O’Hara said. “We field-test all the pieces ourselves and no one is harder on our products than we are.” The two women may also be familiar to outdoorsmen and women from their show, “Universal Huntress” on the Pursuit Channel. Last year they spent more than 200 days hunting and filming their adventures, which enabled them to field-test their products in varied conditions and perfect them. The show gives GWG clothing amazing exposure, allowing viewers to see their products in action and how well they work in the field.
GWG lifestyle apparel line runs the gamut from swimwear and loungewear to hoodies and athletic attire. There is literally something for everyone including jewelry, flip-flops and lingerie. The most popular item dealers stock is the logo T-shirts, O’Hara noted. Online sales are brisk for the Crossing Hat in teal, and all of the T-shirts and lounge pants. The popularity of these items is part price-point and part style. “We follow regular fashion and bring it into the outdoor world,” O’Hara said. “Fashion is always our forte.”
Harman added, “We are trying to be competitive with our pricing, materials and fit. Every year we come up with new products. This year we’re introducing a new shooting vest, an apron, goggles and eye glasses.”
Arctic Hunter Mid-Length Muck Boots
Lightweight Hunting Pants
Hunting Line Success
In 2014, GWG debuted their technical hunting line and it has seen huge growth since. The GWG team stuck to their goal to keep the technical clothing affordable while maintaining quality, and women have responded positively to the line. Consisting of camo base layers, light- to mid-weight jackets and pants, hats, gloves and boots, once again GWG has all the bases covered.
An immediately noticeable aspect about the GWG camo line is the thought behind the products. For example, they offer a Reversible Puff Jacket with microfiber ripstop material and PrimaLoft silver insulation which features a camo print on one side and charcoal gray on the other. Its versatility allows women to change their look and minimize the amount of gear they need when traveling. A stuff sack hidden in one of the jacket’s pockets packs neatly and compactly. The jacket retails for $169.99 — an affordable must-have for outdoorswomen.
The GWG clothing line has unique selling features dealers can highlight as well. “We made sure there is a great fit on all of our pants,” said O’Hara. They have an awesome four-way stretch, which allows for weight fluctuation, and articulated knees for ease of movement. “They also have an adjustable waist and length,” O’Hara said. “It’s one of my favorite features. They’re very hardy and they can stand up to thorns.”
GWG is very responsive to its customer base of over 400,000. They listen to customer feedback and make changes and additions to their line. For example, last fall they improved the fit on the plus size line and moved away from overly feminine color accents. They also responded to feedback when dealers said they appreciated a touch of feminine flair on the clothing as it stood out from the men’s, and women could immediately identify it was for them in a sea of camo. Plans for Fall 2017 include adding more teal pops of color and introducing a new camo pattern called Alpine.
In partnership with Muck Boots, GWG also offers Arctic Hunter footwear: 100 percent waterproof pull on boots with -40 degree insulation. Available in tall- and mid-height shaft lengths, full Mossy Oak Break Up Country Camo and a teal GWG logo complete these functional and stylish boots. Standard insulated and non-insulated hunting boots are also available from GWG.
Girls With Guns co-founders Norissa Harman (left) and Jen O’Hara
have plenty of opportunities to test their products out in the
field while filming “Universal Huntress.”
Catering To Women Shoppers
The Girls With Guns clothing line is available in more than 1,000 stores and in some overseas locations. More and more gun stores are starting to cater to women shoppers, Harman noted, and take advantage of the fact that women like to shop. “The more products and classes store owners can offer to women, the more their customer base will grow,” she added.
Offering quality products at a good price point is key. “All women are cost-conscious,” Harman said.
Display space in your store is valuable and limited, but by stocking a few key items, you can increase your female customer base. If you want to start small and keep your investment low, try displaying and promoting some of GWG’s fashion T-shirts and hats. Their price-point will make them easy to sell and give you a good gauge of the level of interest of your customers. If you are ready to make a bigger commitment, the quality of GWG’s hunting clothing and the thought in their design will please your customers.
Above all, women will appreciate the clothing was designed for them by two women who test it constantly and are always seeking to make improvements.