Who She Is ... Brittany Coleman started her professional career in something totally different than run specialty — a college advisor helping low-income, first-generation students get into college. She was a public policy major and thought she was going to end up in education policy, but one day she ended up going to business school and now likes to think a lot of those same values persist as she sees her business as a force for good.

Her role at ToughCutie … Coleman is the founder and CEO, but as with most small business she does any and everything to keep the brand running — attending tradeshows, running clinics, working to design its products and creating social media posts.

The elevator pitch … ToughCutie is a premium women’s outdoor sock brand that integrates technical features with performance fibers to create products that support women from the ground up. (Its socks were voted most comfortable and best weave for their design in Outdoor Life.) Established in 2019, ToughCutie is a certified women-owned and minority-owned business.

The inspiration behind ToughCutie … Over the course of her career, which included leadership and analyst positions for several outdoor and active lifestyle brands, Coleman became increasingly frustrated as she noticed male-run product development and research teams not understanding women or including them in the decision-making process. “I founded ToughCutie to change that.”

Her position in run specialty … “I see myself as a professional in the running industry as my focus has always been on elevating women in the shoes we fill, running shoes being one of many.”

Her mentor … “So many mentors! When they say it takes a village to raise a child, well ToughCutie is my baby and that applies in so many ways here.”

Women in run specialty … Clayton believes it is possible that running feels more accessible than perhaps other types of activities since most of those involved in it have grown up doing it, so some of the barriers that people may face in learning how to run do not exist as they do in other spaces.


Her philosophy on running. … As far as activities go, she enjoys the sport because it is easy to get started and easy to come back to if you lapse. Anecdotally, she also does not hear as many women talking about feeling imposter syndrome in the run specialty space compared to other industries that may require more specialized gear or knowledge to even get started.  

Attracting women to run specialty … “I love it when I see dedicated spaces in stores that highlight and curate women-owned brands,” Coleman says, because it sends a clear message about who they support and what they value. “Just like consumers choose places to shop and what to buy based on their values, talent increasingly is following suit,” she adds. “So making your values obvious can help the industry stand out.” 

One wish … “I would love to personally attend a run specialty networking event or retreat to be able to meet more professional women in this space and learn about what each is doing in their respective domains. Creating opportunities for those of us in the space to meet each other would also go a long way.”  

A women’s different perspective ... Coleman believes that every individual brings something different to the table regardless of gender. “The biggest differentiator I bring to the table is my belief system that women deserve just as high quality and attention to detail to products made for us,” she says.

Advice for selling to women … The first step, she believes is to create opportunities for meaningful connection between women through running. “It’s no secret that our country is facing a loneliness epidemic and at the same time, as women, we rely so heavily on our girlfriends for connection,” she explains, so one thing she would be trying to figure out as run specialty retailers is how to offer an experience to women that solves both of those problems – that gets women together running and building relationships. “The sales will follow.”


Advice to other women … “Embrace uncertainty and find ways to lead with your values. People will tell you it’s not possible, but stick to your guns and it will all work out.”

Her running routine … Running is one of many things Coleman does to stay active, but she admits she is still chasing that runners high she keeps hearing so much about.

ToughCutie in 2024 … Coleman and her team have been working hard on their women’s run sock and is looking to introduce it to more run specialty accounts. “As a business owner, have so much respect for those of us still in the game because it is not easy,” she says. “I hope to meet other owners and form lasting partnerships.”