Latrobe woman launches ladies’ fishing gear line
Kim Ranalla is bringing a feminine piece to the fishing gear market — and is hopeful it will help women feel comfortable in their own bodies.
Ranalla, 48, of Latrobe runs Miss Mayfly, a local fishing gear company that mainly sells waders specifically designed to fit women’s bodies.
“When (women) tell their stories to me, that’s my passion behind it, because I can’t imagine in today’s day and age to have such a huge amount of women entering a sport … and the gear companies aren’t even considering them,” she said.
According to Ranalla, women make up about a third of anglers, totaling 9.8 million women, adding “they are still an underserved market, often forcing them to wear ill-fitting men’s gear. There are many women who simply cannot enjoy the sport fully because the competitors’ gear does not meet the majority of women’s sizing and performance needs.”
Knowing her daughter, Kaylee Saunders, 24, loved to fish, Ranalla started the search for a pair of waders she could give her for her birthday in 2016. But she quickly became frustrated by the limited options and gear that mainly focused on height, meaning the boot size did not match the waist width.
“It was all men’s gear,” she said. “I finally settled on a pair of waders and boots that were OK, but those waders were huge on her. I said, ‘This is awful. I can’t believe there are no better options.’”
Deciding she wanted to make gear more inclusive to women, Ranalla set out to find a specialist to help create a sizing chart. But the numbers she was given, “might fit European models, but they won’t fit average American women,” she said.
Instead, she spent weeks studying sizing charts and created nine sizes.
But that wasn’t the end. Ranalla spent weeks creating production sizes, wearing extra clothes to figure out what specific measurements would look like on different body types.
After developing both charts, Ranalla worked with a factory to produce a small number of waders. Once the waders hit the market, Ranalla said, they immediately started selling.
“It was a small run, but with that small run I managed to develop a brand name that people talk about,” she said.
Today, her company offers 12 sizes of light gray waders with blue straps for a feminine twist, including plus sizes. Through the community she built, she has heard talk about women’s experiences in sporting stores and trying to find sizes that fit them.
“(Companies are) just now started to realize that women aren’t happy,” Ranalla said. “They were making the sales (with men’s waders), they didn’t need to invest the time and money. I think it took a woman to understand what women need.”
Self funding the first batch of waders, Ranalla is now working to raise money to manufacture more waders, which have been in demand, she said. Some waders are still for sale on missmayfly.com, along with T-shirts reading “Miss Mayfly” and “Tight Line,” and hat pins.
She is also searching for an equity investor who can help cover manufacturing costs for further production.
As a way to raise funds, she hosted a 45% sale on all items on her website and introduced new items included a sling pack, also known as fishing tackle packs. And to raise awareness about her products, Ranalla often hosts giveaways and contests on her Facebook page.
A full crowdfunding campaign is live at indiegogo.com where merchandise can be purchased, customers can view the science behind the waders and funds can be donated.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .