Interview

5 Questions with Nolee Anderson

Nolee Anderson discovered a passion when she found the trades, and now the trim carpenter and Team Wolverine member wants to make sure future generations of girls can find their way, too — and she definitely wants them to have better boots. Anderson is one of the initial class of young tradespeople picked by Rockford, MI-based Wolverine to be the face of its outreach to young people considering careers in the skilled trades, an extension of its Project Bootstraps program that donates boots to trade school students and job sites.

As work brands put an increasing focus on their women’s boots (see our story in Footwear Insight’s upcoming January/February issue), women like Anderson are providing the critical insights they need to step up their product game. Here, she sounds off on what tradeswomen really want in their gear and what she’s wearing now.

1. How did you get involved in the trades, and more specifically, how did you find carpentry?

NA: I enrolled in trade school at the Missoula College of Industrial Technology as an alternative to the traditional college education, and found myself really enjoying the trades world. I’ve always been very attracted to working with my hands — I’ve been a painter and an artist all my life. Carpentry became a very practical, sustainable, and lucrative way for me to use my artistic skills on a daily basis.

2. What kind of boots do you wear?

NA: Right now, I’m wearing the Wolverine I-90s. They’re a classic style, and colors haven’t been changed for the women’s version. I appreciate the traditional style and comfort. I also saw some of the products they have planned for Fall ’19 and am really excited for those to come to market as well.

3. What was your experience in finding boots prior to working with Wolverine? Where did you shop?

NA: Infuriating, to say the least. Not being offered attainable, affordable, and appropriate options projects to young women who might be interested in trades work that women are not welcome in this industry. And the gear that is available to female trades workers is plagued with pastel colors. Those colors say that even if one does make it into the field, they will stick out, be targeted, and not be taken seriously. This is a true problem that gets in the way of talented and hardworking women every day.

4. What does it mean to be working with Wolverine and with Project Bootstrap?

NA: It is so important to me that more young girls become exposed to trades work as a career option. My goal working with Wolverine is to ensure that those girls don’t get tied down by not having the right gear. Project Bootstrap is a fantastic resource for young people today, and I’m so thrilled to be apart of it.

5. You were involved with the creation of G.R.I.T. in Missoula, a program that helps introduce girls and nonbinary and gender diverse youth into the trades. What’s on deck for that program this year?

NA: G.R.I.T (Girls Representing In Trades) has had awesome workshops in 2019 already, and have even expanded to not only include carpentry, welding, energy technology and bike mechanics, but butchery as well. I’m so proud of all my friends at. G.R.I.T.

View the full print issue here.