Breaking the Mold: Females Shaking Up the Firearms Industry

Female Entrepreneurs in Concealed Carry

It’s no secret that in recent years, more people have sought Concealed Carry permits. But what’s staggering is the rate at which women are joining the firearms space like never before. According to John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center, the amount of concealed carry permits grew an average of 101.2% faster for females than males between 2012 and 2020. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) added that women made up 40% of all first-time gun purchasers in 2019.

A sample of 14 states from the John Lott study also indicated that women made up an average of 26.4% of permit holders. But with growth rates like the ones above, we can probably expect to see this average on the rise going forward.

However, as some women join the firearms space, they’re finding that traditional carry methods aren’t always ideal for their lifestyle and needs. So instead of coping with an uncomfortable holster, or carrying in a way that might cause printing, they’ve decided to forge their own paths.

Allow us to introduce you to some of the entrepreneurs who are pioneering concealed carry gear for the modern woman.

Alternative Articles of Clothing

Anna Taylor

Anna Taylor (female entrepreneur)
Dene Adams founder Anna Taylor, pictured with one of the company’s signature concealed carry corset tops.

Back in 2013, designer Anna Taylor grew frustrated with the lack of accessibility for females in the gun space. While belt holsters may have worked in the past for men, they weren’t as ideal for women, who might be wearing dresses, skirts, or even pants that don’t have belt loops.

So Taylor sewed a neoprene mouse pad into a fitted tank top and created her first corset style holster. This became the prototype for her company Dene Adams, which is bringing the corset back into fashion for female carriers. Within a year of starting the company, Taylor was generating around $250,000 in sales, demonstrating how eager people were for alternative carry solutions.

Fast forward to 2018, and Dene Adams’ sales grew to $1 million. In addition to its featured corsets, the company’s other popular items include yoga pants with waistband support for concealed carry and compression shorts with a thigh holster that can be worn under skirts or dresses.

Tessa Renaud

Tessa Renaud (female entrepreneur)
Lethal Lace founder Tessa Renaud shows off her products at SHOT show. The company now has both women’s and men’s lines.

When Tessa Renaud got her concealed carry permit, she was working late-night shifts at the ER in Baton Rouge, LA. Walking back to her car alone at the end of a shift had the potential to be dicey, so knowing that she was equipped with some level of protection made her feel safer.

But her bulky pistol and revolver gave her pause, as she was unsure where to stash them while wearing her work clothes. Like Taylor, she took it upon herself to make her own solution.

Renaud created Lethal Lace, a line of flexible lace wraps that could be used to store a small firearm. The wraps can be fastened around the torso, arms, and legs with small clips, much like an Ace bandage.

Renaud now makes regular appearances at SHOT show, promoting the Lethal Lace collection. She’s also created a new men’s line of the same style product, just without the frills.

Classy Carry Purses

Dawn Hillyer

Dawn Hillyer (female entrepreneur)
Hiding Hilda Founder Dawn Hillyer, next to one of her many variations of concealed carry-friendly handbags.

Several years ago, Dawn Hillyer was dealing with a six year encounter with a violent stalker. Her stalker eventually received a 10-year felony prison sentence, but during the ordeal, Hillyer decided to invest in a personal firearm and concealed carry permit. She affectionately named the gun “Hilda.”

Her job as an executive recruiter did not lend itself to being carry-friendly though. In her efforts to conceal her firearm, she decided that she would need something consistent to carry it in. The only thing she consistently had each day was her purse, and she couldn’t find a purse that worked to carry Hilda. So like the other female entrepreneurs on this list, she made her own.

This experience led her to create Hiding Hilda, a line of concealed carry purses designed to be stylish, useful, and inconspicuous for carriers. She’s now expanded her company’s offerings to include other concealment accessories, such as hip bags, backpacks, and sling bags. Hillyer is proud to partner with a manufacturer near her in Fort Wayne, IN, which allows all her products to be American-made.

Leslie Deets

Leslie Deets (female entrepreneur)
Leslie Deets was inspired to found Concealed Carrie as a result of her own personal experience with assault. The company now offers free replacement purses to women who damage theirs while protecting themselves.

Leslie Deets’ desire to carry stemmed from a traumatic assault she experienced. During her freshman year of college, she was kidnapped, stabbed, and held at gunpoint.

As a result of this assault, she had a deeply personal stake with being involved in the firearms space. This led her to create Concealed Carrie, which specializes in purses with built-in holsters to conceal firearms. They come in a variety of styles, such as handbags, satchels, and small compacts.

The purses aren’t only for firearms though. For individuals who prefer lesser use-of-force weapons, they can be adapted for quick access to tasers or pepper spray. Concealed Carrie also offers free replacements to women who damage the bags protecting themselves from assaults.

These four entrepreneurs all faced similar accessibility issues in the firearms space when it came to concealing their weapon as a female. But rather than letting it deter them, they made their own creative solutions.

Their ingenuity has not only helped provide more carry options, but it’s also redefined concealed carry for the modern woman. No longer do women with guns have to be judged on either extreme of the spectrum: the rough military-oriented female or the sexy pinup girl from firearms ads of the past. They’re simply individuals who want to live defensively, and now they have the freedom to carry in ways that are more comfortable for them.

Want to get started on your concealed carry journey? Enroll in the training you need to carry in your state and reciprocating states today with Concealed Coalition!

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