By Malik Holmes
Special to the AFRO
If you ask Ridgely’s Delight entrepreneur Susan Clayton her philosophy about life, she will tell you, “Just go for it.” That’s exactly what the inventor and owner of Whitepaws RunMitts did when she launched her business in January 2016.
“I worked for probably 10 years in a salon before my business partner Madeline Bayard and I branched off to start our own salon” Clayton said. “Now this other idea has taken shape, and thankfully, I am seeing success, again.”
Clayton is the brainchild behind Whitepaws RunMitts. The innovative mittens are designed for runners to keep their hands warm while exercising outdoors.
“The design allows you to adjust to fit in different weather conditions,” Clayton added. Clayton thinks this sets her apart from the competition.
A runner herself, Clayton got the idea struggling to keep her own hands warm. When she saw a fellow runner wearing old socks to protect his fingers from the cold, she figured she could do better. She got to work and the runners’ mittens were born. After taking her idea to an attorney, she was issued her patent in December 2015.
A native of Baltimore, and a graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Clayton is a certified beautician. She is the co-owner of The Clark-Morley salon on East Redwood Street, a community staple for 25 years.
Between the salon and her mitten company, she splits her time pretty evenly, giving some priority based on which is most busy. “Establishing your own brand takes a lot of work,” Clayton said. “I am doing almost all parts of Whitepaws RunMitts by myself, even making labels for shipping.”
The hard work is paying off. She is building a loyal fan base.
“I have two pairs, one of the original and one of the new ones. I love them both,” said customer Melanie Holloway. “I don’t know if you’re a runner but in the winter, when you’re starting up, it’s pretty cold. But once you get warmed up, you don’t need a lot of covering; her design is made with the runner in mind.”
Clayton encourages more entrepreneurs to go after their dreams and not be afraid. A solid business background is good but, “surrounding yourself with good people like skilled lawyers and accountants is important too,” Clayton added.
“One thing that I think a lot of people do in businesses, especially with partners, is they have great ideas but don’t have a structure for how to succeed. We found a great formula right away and stuck to it over the years.”