Baltimost: Susan Clayton, inventor of WhitePaws RunMitts

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Credit: John Waire

Baltimost is a Baltimore Fishbowl feature series that asks locals what they love about their city. The idea is to celebrate Baltimore and the people who make it so unique.

So what makes Baltimore the Baltimost to you? It could be a favorite place, a great meal, a memorable interaction or something else entirely. Email suggestions to Karen at [email protected]

Susan Clayton 57, business owner and inventor of WhitePaws RunMitts.

In her words: “I invented WhitePaws RunMitts because I was always looking for the perfect glove or mitten to wear for morning runs. I was a coach with Back on My Feet, and I had to be out there three times a week at 5:30 a.m. 

In the winter, my hands were so cold. I saw a friend running with socks on his hands, and that gave me the idea. My mitts are like socks, but they have a flap so you can push them off your fingers or up your arms. 

On a whim, I decided to call a lawyer to see if I could get a patent. It took three years, but we got the patent four years ago. 

They’re made at Fashions Unlimited, in Pigtown. Except for the manufacturing, I basically do everything myself. I do all the labels, the packaging and shipping. The first year, I probably made about $10,000 in sales, and it’s gone up another $5,000 to $10,000 every year after that.

I like being an entrepreneur. I co-own the Clark-Morley Salon, which my business partner and I named for our mother’s maiden names. We thought it sounded lawyer-ly.  We opened in 1994. It’s been just the two of us for 25 years, which is good. We like each other. We’ve had some blow-ups, but we tend to talk through it. We know it’s business and don’t take anything personally. 

If I had thought it through, I probably wouldn’t have started a hair salon. I think my naiveté helped me because I thought it can’t be that hard, and once we started we had no choice. 

Even with the mittens, I’m not sure I would have done it if I had realized how much work it would be. Actually, I probably would have, but I would have thought about it more first. The city’s Small Business Resource Center has been a help with free classes and mentorship. I even won a pitch contest and got some money.

I don’t run with Back on My Feet right now. I coach the Baltimore Women’s Classic once a year, and co-host a weekly run with Black Girls RUN.  I try to run with Runners4Justice when I can.  

One thing I love about Baltimore is a little brewery called Suspended. It’s very small, kind of industrial inside with a big bar in the middle. Every time I go, I get a different beer. They also have kombucha. They don’t bottle or can their beer, so you can’t buy it in a store, but you can get a growler filled.”



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