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JEMS, the first Black-owned athletic shoe company in the US

I pitched and wrote this article for the Craft Industry Alliance — JEMS is the first Black-owned athletic shoe company in the United States and it’s in Somersworth, NH. Read it here!

My husband Andrew mentioned seeing this in the local news and I thought it might be a good fit for the Craft Industry Alliance, a trade organization for craft professionals (makers, pattern designers, folks who sell on Etsy or at craft fairs, craft teachers, and so on). I’ve written for them before and it was a great experience. I dragged my kiddo out on a car ride to see the JEMS factory and snap a few pictures of downtown Somersworth to add to my pitch, and then I wrote it up and sent it out. The CIA got back to me quickly and I had two and a half weeks to write the article.

Downtown Somersworth

This was a fun challenge–I actually interviewed folks on the phone, including someone at City Hall in Somersworth, who pointed me to a local historian and put me in touch with contacts at JEMS. I spoke to the president of JEMS and to its founder, Dr. D’Wayne Edwards. It was fun to get back into reporting, and it felt really exciting to share this story with a new audience. JEMS is a great story: it’s named after a Black immigrant inventor, Jan Ernst Matzeliger; it’s a revival of shoe manufacturing in Somersworth, which used to have three shoe factories; it’s the first Black-owned athletic shoe company in the US; and it’s a new factory in America. Telling all these different stories and making them make sense in 1000 words was tricky, and I really liked it.

The JEMS factory


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Free ebooks, news, and is it 2021 yet?

Hello! It’s been an awful long time, and I’ve been tinkering around on my website, and I wanted to let you know about a few things I’ve updated and changed around here.

First things first, I want to say that I am part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter, now, always, and forever. You are welcome no matter who you are–I want to be inclusive of all races, genders, identities, and creeds. So, welcome! Finding ways to be more inclusive in my business and my work is a big priority of mine, and if you have any ideas or suggestions, please email me at (or come find me on Instagram–I’m @likesoatmeal).

Next, when the global pandemic really started, my life changed, as I’m sure yours did, too. My priorities are different, and I am focusing on my family.

So, I am not going to make another print planner for writers this year–The Writer’s Process Planner is going to be PDF only. I haven’t settled on the final details for what it will look like/when it will be available, but watch this space if you want to know! Or sign up for my newsletter.

Finally, I decided to make all my ebooks free here on my website (you still have to check out, but I won’t collect your email or anything like that) and $.99 on Amazon. When I first made them free, I kind of thought the pandemic would be a six-week thing. Ha. Ha. Ha. Here we are, and I think I will keep them free for the foreseeable future. I’ve talked about this with my publisher, KMR Publishing (who is also one of my best friends), and she is totally on board.

Enjoy! Share with friends! Just please don’t re-publish my work.

I think that’s it for now. Cheers to you all–stay safe and happy writing!