Ashley Ferraro wants to help women run, cycle and train in style. In the process, she also wants to pay it forward.

At the 2015 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3, the co-owner of Dona Jo Fitwear will be unveiling – and selling – her company’s newest “runner of steel” legging, made exclusively for the marathon.

Cost of the leggings is $72, and all of the proceeds go to Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc.’s (P3R) American Development Program which supports promising American athletes and future Olympians.

This is the first year that merchandise will be sold to support P3R nonprofit programming, says Kelsey Jackson, public relations manager for the marathon.

Spectators and racers can also support the P3R American Development Program by purchasing “Keep Pittsburgh Running” t-shirts, manufactured by Solfire, on race day.

Official marathon posters designed by Homestead artist Baron Batch will be sold for $20 to support P3R’s Kids of STEEL exercise and nutrition program.

“There will be something nice for our runners that will commemorate their participation, and also it’s nice because the proceeds go to support a cause,” says Jackson.

As for those leggings? “The design of the leggings is going to be screaming Pittsburgh,” says Ferraro.


Created by in-house Dona Jo graphic designer Jeremy Stebler, and in cooperation with marathon organizers, the legging will feature artsy splashes of black and gold bridges. Also available at the marathon will be a solid black legging with the “runners of steel” logo.

Working with Dona Jo Fitwear achieves two objectives, says Patrice Matamoros, CEO of the Pittsburgh Marathon.

“First, we get to work with a local business and second, we see how the race inspires artists to develop something that runners want to wear,” she says.

For the last two years, Ferraro, along with her husband Raphael Costa, has grown her Strip District-based business to the point where she is shipping at least 500 orders worldwide each month.

And to put an extra spring in the female athlete’s step, the bold prints and patterns of the Dona Jo leggings, shorts and running skirts are updated every two weeks. They are available for only about a month – so the workout never gets boring, she adds.

Ferraro, a 2007 graduate of North Allegheny, started her company after graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University and working a short time in advertising for the nonprofit sector.

“I couldn’t see myself there forever. I wanted to work on my own,” she says.

A runner who was inspired by the vibrant prints and hues she saw in Costa’s homeland of Brazil, she is the company’s president, and Costa is its COO. They run their business with a staff of six employees in the U.S. and another 13 in Brazil.  The fabrics are made in San Paulo and the clothing is constructed in a facility the couple owns in Brazilia.

Made of a Lycra and elastane blend, the leggings – the company’s most popular item – were designed with American women in mind – with a higher rise, waist bands that hug the body and a gusset in the center so they don’t ride up. The fabric is sleek and light weight, with a 5-way stretch – most leggings have a 3- to 4-way stretch – that molds to the body, says Ferraro.

“We’re a Pittsburgh-based business so it kind of made sense to partner with the Pittsburgh Marathon,” says Ferraro.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.