Our mission is to empower women by helping them feel feminine, comfortable, and ready to dominate anything they’ve felt barred from on the basis of their gender.
Emily Degan is joining our krewe of badass babes this week, and it’s well deserved! She founded Saint Hugh, a women’s outdoor apparel company based in New Orleans two years ago. Emily is a New Orleans native that moved back after attending Notre Dame university where she studied to be a CPA, and spending two years working at Deloitte in Chicago.
Tell us about yourself,
I was born and raised in New Orleans and grew up duck-hunting with my dad in Delacroix, Louisiana. From a young age I struggled to find field apparel that fit well or felt good, much less looked good (which, as someone who values style, was frustrating). I’d long had the idea to start a brand that would make fashion-forward yet functional apparel for women in the field, and after spending six years away from NOLA for college in the Midwest then work in Chicago, I wanted to get back home. I saw the perfect opportunity to do so while making my dream of starting an apparel company a reality.
In the over two years since I’ve been back, I’ve had a blast re-discovering New Orleans, which had changed so much during my time away. My dog Winnie and I live in the Warehouse District and are big fans of the many outdoor activities in our neighborhood like Luna Fete, Wednesdays at the Square, and the Crescent City Farmer’s Market. Aside from hunting (which I still do with my dad as often as possible), I enjoy running, spinning, yoga, and trying new rooftop bars and breweries.
What is the meaning behind the name Saint Hugh?
Saint Hugh is an abbreviation for Saint Hubert, a seventeenth century French bishop who is the patron Saint of hunting. He was the first advocate for humane hunting and came up with a series of guidelines on how to hunt ethically, like only hunting deer past their breeding age, because he loved and respected animals so much.
What have you been able to apply from college and your previous career in finance in Chicago to your business?
One thing I didn’t realize I was learning while working in Chicago was a sense for what various stakeholders were looking for or looking to accomplish when they walked into a meeting. Taking a moment before getting started to think about the motivations of my business partners has helped me to change my messaging in a productive way.
What’s your favorite part of working for yourself?
I love interacting with my customers and hearing what they love about being outdoors. It challenges me to constantly evaluate my company’s mission and my vision for growth.
Top 3 words you feel when you think that you are carrying out your childhood dream?
At home (two words, sorry). Humbled. Galvanized.
What’s your favorite piece of Saint Hugh (so far) to wear?
I live in my Shooter’s Vest. It’s lined with Polartec fleece, so when it’s zipped, it keeps your core really warm. It was perfect for our fluctuating weather this past fall and winter, because I’d wear it zipped in the mornings, unzipped as it warmed up, and would stay comfortable all day. It can also be easily dressed up or down.
Top 3 words you want women wearing your clothing to feel?
Strong. Feminine. Comfortable.
Where do you see Saint Hugh in three to five years?
I see Saint Hugh continuing to invest in the New Orleans ecosystem by bringing manufacturing work to the city. I also see us expanding our footprint within the outdoor industry to offer fashion forward products for a larger variety of outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and running.
What has one of your biggest challenges launching your own business been?
I had a really hard time accepting that, because small business are not able to do everything for themselves and are therefore forced to rely on business partners to move processes forward, things don’t always happen as quickly as you’d like them to. I learned patience and to accept the fact that there will always be things outside of my control.
What’s your favorite memory of hunting?
Honestly, there are so many. But almost every time, there’s a quiet period after the decoys have been set up and I’ve settled into my blind, but before birds start flying. As the sun starts to think about rising, the marsh literally glows in pink and golden hues; it’s a really unexpected color palatte and never ceases to take my breath away.