With TORCH, Haley McClain Hill celebrates womanhood in the armed forces

From TORCH Warriorwear to TORCHTalks, Haley McClain Hill is building a brand for an army of woman warriors.

For Haley McClain Hill, the armed forces have run in her blood since she was a little girl.

As a young girl, she lived at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va., with her mother and grandmother, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Eventually relocating to Pennsylvania, her grandmother’s story helped inspire Hill to join the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program after enrolling Penn State University.

After graduation, Hill became an Air Force recruiter stationed in Atlanta, where she enjoyed interacting directly with the community. A year later, however, she was stripped of that hands-on interaction after being relocated to California and given a role in human resources. Quickly realizing she didn’t want to spend her time behind a desk, Hill began thinking about ways to transition into something more fulfilling.

That transition coincided with the onset of pandemic lockdowns in 2020, which gave her time to think about her journey. Seeking spiritual guidance on what to do next, HIll’s answer came as an idea for a clothing line prioritizing women in the military.

“I was just sick and tired of looking and feeling uncomfortable because all of our uniform items are very tailored towards men,” Hill said in a recent interview with theGrio. “When you first enter the military, they give you your uniform items. My first ‘care package’ was a men’s t-shirt that was two sizes too big with really scratchy material. My pants … and everything [were] just not fitting me right.”

Hill’s experience is a snapshot of the lives of many women working in the armed forces. According to the U.S. Department of Defense’s latest demographics report, women currently represent 17.5% of the active duty force and 21.6% of the selected reserve. While the percentage of women has increased slightly, there is still a long way to go to reach full equality. A minority in the military, women are often treated as an afterthought.

With TORCH Warriorwear, along with recognition of the internal strides of women in military service, Hill hopes to redefine what it means to be a woman in uniform. Her first release, a collection of long-sleeved and short-sleeved bodysuits, is constructed using softer and more comfortable material than standard military-issue clothing. The garments also have ample stretch, making them perfect for every shape. However, TORCH’s bodysuits are only the beginning for Hill, who plans to create an entire clothing line for the “woman warrior.”

Photo: Haley McClain Hill with bodysuits from the TORCH collection, courtesy of TORCH Warriorwear
Photo: Haley McClain Hill with bodysuits from the TORCH collection, courtesy of TORCH Warriorwear

“A woman warrior is a woman who is so confident with herself that she never has to compare herself to anyone,” Hill said. While wearing TORCH Warriorwear, “I want you to feel like you’re part of a community of women who are go-getters, fearless, and who can do anything they put their mind to.”

The brand and its message do not stop at clothing. Hill will soon expand the TORCH brand into a podcast called TORCHTalks. Inspired by TEDTalks, each episode of the podcast will be about 15 minutes long and feature a diverse group of experts. From navigating personal finances to life in the military, Hill wants to equip the woman warrior with all the tips she needs to be a well-rounded woman.

The TORCH brand is Hill’s way of giving back to the world. Her primary motivation and inspiration remains her grandmother, who lives her life selflessly. With the brand, she is continuing that legacy of selflessness to help people feel more confident in their skin. With the belief that she is walking in her purpose, Hill wants to reach beyond the present moment to help the next generation.

“We’re here for that new generation that’s going to really become the future leaders,” she said. “We’re here to inspire, to educate, to celebrate their successes and to make them feel like they’re part of a bigger community.”

Kayla Grant theGrio.com
Kayla Grant theGrio.com

Kayla Grant is a multimedia journalist with bylines in Business Insider, Shondaland, Oz Magazine, Prism, Rolling Out and more. She writes about culture, books and entertainment news. Follow her on Twitter: @TheKaylaGrant.

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