Sarah Calhoun grew up on a farm in Connecticut and received her degree in Environmental Studies from Gettysburg College. After five years working outdoor education jobs, including instructing for Outward Bound and leading trail crews, she was rather fed up with wearing men’s work pants.
She moved to Bozeman in 2004 where she purchased a copy of How to Start a Small Business for Dummies. Upon learning what a business plan was, she promptly wrote one, started designing pants, and Red Ants Pants was born.
Wanting to live in a rural Montana ranching town, in 2005 she moved to White Sulphur Springs and set up her office, storefront, and distribution center in an old historic saddle shop. In October 2006, she opened the doors to the first ever company dedicated to making work pants for women. Finally…workwear for women!
Red Ants Pants was founded in 2006 by Sarah Calhoun. Tired of wearing men’s work pants that didn’t fit, Calhoun designed pants that would fit, function and flatter working women. The pants are made in the USA and that will not change. Red Ants Pants is based out of White Sulphur Springs, Montana where the storefront, distribution center, and international headquarters all reside in an historic saddle shop. Known for their grass roots marketing efforts, including ‘Tour de Pants’, the direct sales business model is proving effective, even in tough economic times.
In 2011 Red Ants Pants put on the first annual Red Ants Pants Music Festival, where 6,000 fans came to dance their pants off in a cow pasture listening to some top bands including Lyle Lovett. The Red Ants Pants Foundation was formed as the non-profit branch of the project, in support of women’s leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities. The festival continues its success into the third year with Merle Haggard headlining the 2013 event.
With a recent trip to the White House and keynoting at several national speaking events, Calhoun continues to be amazed how this company has become so much more than just a pair of pants. “It’s neat to show that we can do big things in small towns,” she reflects. A new Red Ants Pants ad campaign that profiles kickass women of history uses a tagline that resonates with the culture of the company: “Step into these pants and see what you can do.”
Awards and Recognition
- Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Doing Good Section. September 2013
- 2012 National Women in Business Champion for the Small Business Association
- 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year for the State of Montana, awarded by Governor Schweitzer
- 2012 Women in Business Champion for Montana and the Region, Small Business Association
- Invited to the White House and featured on the White House website for a Forum on Jobs and Economic Development. November 2011
- Served as a US Delegate to the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Women in Business Summit in San Francisco. Hosted by Hilary Clinton. September 2011
- TEDx Talk Presenter, Gettysburg College. April 2012
- Cover of Country Woman Magazine. Feb/March 2011
- Featured in Sunset Magazine. April 2007