Feature Story, Women's Lifestyle

How Two Detroit Entrepreneurs are Encouraging Positive Workplace Culture for Women

Today’s post is sponsored by Northern Fashion, LLC. You can read our disclosure policy here. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Good Life Detroit!


What is one negative quality a colleague has mislabeled you as having? For me, it would have to be two things:

1- Being called emotional. I’ve been called emotional when I am really a passionate person. I am passionate about many things such as motherhood and my career. 

2- Being called mean or aggressive. I think I have heard this myth about myself one too many times. There have been many times someone has told me I was being too aggressive or I was mean when I used my voice to speak up. 

Unfortunately, women are often misjudged for qualities men are praised for having. Women experience this in both their personal and professional lives. 

Jennifer Hamra Good Life Detroit
I’m a passionate about my family and career! In this photo, I am wearing a Northern Fashion shirt. Read on to learn more about co-founders Jenna Hage-Hassan and Ludwin Cruz.

MEET JENNA HAGE-HASSAN

For Jenna Hage-Hassan, co-founder of Northern Fashion, LLC, working in a male-dominated industry has opened her eyes to the sexist workplace language women sometimes face. One particular quality Jenna says she has been misjudged for is being emotional instead of passionate. 

“Every time I felt like I was trying to make a point in a meeting or having a discussion with a colleague, I can’t tell you how many times somebody said, ‘Oh, you’re being too emotional.’ It felt very dismissive,” Jenna explains. 

Jenna Hage-Hassan
Jenna Hage-Hassan, co-founder of Northern Fashion, LLC. (Photo credit: Jenna Hage-Hassan)

WORKING IN A MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY 

Jenna’s career is in the Geology field— a profession that is known to be a very male-dominated industry. In college, Jenna studied petroleum geology in Lebanon. As the only woman in her program, Jenna was often misjudged. 

For her master’s degree program, Jenna attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. The program was also male-dominated. Later, she started her own tech company. Again, another industry that is considered to be comprised of a majority of male professionals. 

Tired of hearing sexist language in the workplace, Jenna decided to research how other female professionals felt about women being misjudged in the workplace. Her research led her to a couple of surveys conducted by Forbes magazine. 

The surveys featured female CEOs who shared offensive words they did not like their colleagues using. The women shared what they wished colleagues would say instead of using offensive and sexist language.

Reading the articles inspired Jenna to create shirt designs featuring the language. Her hope was to start a conversation that encouraged others to use positive words when describing women professionals. With her business partner Ludwin Cruz, the two entrepreneurs launched Northern Fashion, LLC. 

NORTHERN FASHION, LLC IS CREATED

Jenna shared her creative idea with her business partner Ludwin Cruz. As a designer, Ludwin was able to share insight with Jenna on creating a design for her fashion idea.

Together, Jenna and Ludwin created Northern Fashion to encourage women to “move the conversation forward” by making a statement through fashion. 

“To me, fashion and what you’re wearing is the most visible everyday artistic medium,” Jenna says. “People tend to really pay attention to it.”

The two entrepreneurs decided on the name “Northern” because “her” is included in the spelling of “Northern”. Jenna and Ludwin also wanted people to think about moving up just as one would do if they are moving north. 

Northern Fashion, LLC
Ludwin Cruz and Jenna Hage-Hassan are the co-founders of Northern Fashion, LLC.
(Photo credit: Jenna Hage-Hassan)

“When people think about moving up and elevating things, you always want to head north,” Ludwin explains. “We wanted to make sure that when someone speaks about it they think of elevating. We want to elevate the conversation, of course, with better connotations of the language that is used” 

Northern Fashion, LLC launched in October 2018. Since the launch, Jenna and Ludwin have been working hard to #elevatetheconversation for women. Their hope is their fashion brand will encourage others to use the correct phrases and/or words when describing a woman. 

For instance, instead of referring to a woman as being chatty, a person should instead recognize she is, in fact, articulate and is sharing her expertise on a particular subject. 

Here are a few other expressions Northern Fashion features:

Bossy Leader

High Maintenance High Standards

Stubborn Determined

Altogether, the brand features six expressions. Sizes range from XS to XXL. Northern Fashion will soon carry size 3XL. 

Northern Fashion, LLC
Northern Fashion, LLC

HOW WE CAN CONTINUE TO #ELEVATETHECONVERSATION

“Being a male in a predominantly male environment, I feel there is still a lack of knowledge for men being to be able to support their significant others or just, in general, their counterpart,” Ludwin said.

For Ludwin, his uplifting word from the Northern Fashion brand is “Feminist” because he wants to help educate others on what it means to be a feminist. 

“There’s a lot of negativity associated with [feminism]”, Ludwin explains. “A lot of men believe that feminists or being a feminist [means] women who don’t like men or don’t agree with what men have to offer. I feel like something needs to change. There needs to be more opportunities and movements that can change that dynamic so men can know what they need to do to support their female counterparts.”

Ludwin says he is also passionate about Northern Fashion’s movement because of his daughter. He wants his daughter to grow up knowing she can reach her goals and aspire to be whatever she chooses in her life.

To help continue to #elevatetheconversation, Jenna suggests these two tips:

1 – When you’re trying to talk to a co-worker, take a deep breath and three-second pause before you speak.

2- Pay attention to the language you are using.

Jenna Hage-Hassan and Ludwin Cruz
Jenna Hage-Hassan and Ludwin Cruz at their pop-up at the Macy’s Marketplace at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan. (Photo credit: Jenna Hage-Hassan)

NORTHERN FASHION’S POP-UP AT MACY’S MARKETPLACE

Jenna and Ludwin received an amazing opportunity to showcase their brand at The Market @ Macy’s. According to Macy’s official website, The Market @ Macy’s is a new approach to pop-up retail. Innovative products, new services, and unique experiences are featured at The Market. 

The Macy’s small business program has given Northern Fashion, LLC a chance to reach a larger audience and share their passion to uplift women. The brand will be at the Macy’s marketplace until August 3, 2019, so make sure you visit The Market @ Macy’s before it’s too late! 


You can purchase a Northern Fashion shirt by ordering online or by visiting Macy’s at the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan.

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Feature image courtesy of Jenna Hage-Hassan

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