Every year Cincy Chic‘s Woman of the Year awards recognize seven women. We give out five awards for the fashion, health, beauty, social and career categories. The spotlight is a "staff pick." And the top honor is the Feature Woman of the Year Award, given to a woman who really has her act together and succeeds in all of our five editorial departments. This year, that top honor goes to Kelly Hollatz. And we still are amazed at how well she fits the bill.
Championing Her Career
Hollatz tried the traditional work world with a 9-to-5 job, but she quickly found out that it wasn’t for her. Growing up with a small-business owner for a father, Hollatz grew accustomed to this more flexible work world. So she decided to start her own business.
Her father owns a catering company and she worked her way through college in the restaurant and bartending industry. "I wanted to try something completely and absolutely different," Hollatz says. "I don’t know if I tried all over again if I could achieve finding something as different."
And that "completely and absolutely different" path led her to start up First Star Safety. "The easiest way to sum that up is that we’re a construction and traffic supply firm, so when I say that, it’s anything that has to do with construction safety or traffic safety," Hollatz says.
Ever wonder where those orange barrels come from or all of the detour and "Right Lane Closed Ahead" signs come from? It’s First Star Safety.
While Hollatz had no construction experience going into First Star Safety, she didn’t let that stop her. She dove head first into her new world, and she has been growing and expanding ever since.
Staying Stylish on the Job
In a "man’s" world of construction, Hollatz keeps the feminine touch in her wardrobe, even when she’s on the job. When she goes to a work site, she has to wear boots, long pants and a safety vest. To style it up a bit, Hollatz often wears cowboy boots in different colors and designs. If she’s wearing the Frye harness boots, she’ll opt for the square toe instead of the round toe because it fits her style better.
And for her pants, designer jeans are not out of the question as she works on-site. "I think Citizens are my favorite, so I’ll where those, but I also go to Tractor Supply quite often and Wranglers are highly underrated," she says. "They are a fabulous cut to work in. They come in different lengths, so I’ll wear anything from Citizens to Wranglers on a daily basis.
When she’s in the office for the day and knows she won’t be going to a job site, she can be a little more fashionably creative with her attire. "When I’m at work, the one thing is that I’m not going to wear something that would, more or less, conform me to the societal norm of how a woman in construction should dress," Hollatz says.
Supplying the Social Scene
Beyond her career, Hollatz’s hospitable side comes through with her parties. "I like to throw parties because I love to entertain, and I love to have people in my home that are enjoying life, having a good time, enjoying wonderful food, enjoying each other’s company, and it just feels good to have your home full of happy, good energy," Hollatz says.
She really brings the good energy with an annual party she throws at her place. She invites all of her closest friends and family for a swap shop type of party. Everyone brings as many items as they would like to donate to the event, and Hollatz has rolling racks to hang everything up. Then everyone goes shopping and can take as many items as they would like.
After the shopping wraps up, Hollatz sorts the clothes to give them to appropriate local organizations. For example, all suits and business attire end up at Dress for Success. She even gets local students involved in the cause, as high school students volunteer their time to help hang everything up and then sort it all at the end.
Fighting to be Fit
Hollatz says that she always has been physically active but not necessarily physically fit. She loves to play sports and engage in hands on activities, but when it comes to working out, she’s not really a fan.
Hollatz did want to become physically fit, though, so when her friend opened her own gym after being a personal trainer for 35 years, Hollatz jumped on the train to fitness with Cincinnati Fit Body Bootcamp. "She opened it Oct. 1, and I have been going religiously every morning or every other morning, as much as I possibly can," Hollatz says.
Since Oct. 1, Hollatz hasn’t done the same workout yet, and with the changing came a change for Hollatz. "I’ve always been physically active, but to be physically fit feels so much better," she says.
Beautifying the City
As cliché as it sounds, Hollatz truly shows her beauty from the inside out. Now, she’s a naturally beautiful woman on the outside, but her heart is something special.
Hollatz uses her construction and on-the-job experience and puts it to good use. She participates in Canstruction to support the Freestore Foodbank. During this event, architects, engineers, designers and contractors form team and build giant structures involving only canned goods. At the end of the competition and structure display, all of the canned goods are donated to the Freestore Foodbank.
To use her construction skills in a more direct way to give back, Hollatz volunteers with Rosie’s Girls. This summer camp program for junior high students helps girls gain skills, confidence and a broader view of available career opportunities. Throughout the three-week program, the girls do hands-on activities like learn how to wire an outlet, make park benches, do yoga, etc.
Similar to Rosie’s Girls, Hollatz volunteers with Cincinnati Job Corps. This organization provides men and women with opportunities to gain the skills they need for their profession. Hollatz spends time with Cincinnati Job Corps students on a monthly basis and helps support young women in alternative professions. "I think that it’s imperative that other women do things to help uplift and encourage other women," Hollatz says.