Arts / Events / Pitches / Small businesses / Startups

This Black woman-owned outdoor brand won Baltimore Homecoming’s Crab Tank

Susan Clayton said part of the $27,500 her WhitePaws RunMitts won from the pitch competition will help her "start manufacturing in the Baltimore area."

Susan Clayton, the founder of WhitePaw RunMitts, holds the novelty check for the $25,000 she earned by winning the 2022 Crab Tank. (Courtesy photo)
The judges dug into the Crab Tank and pulled out … a pair of protective mitts.

On Friday, the last day of civic and economic booster Baltimore Homecoming’s Amplify 2022 convening, entrepreneur Susan Clayton and her outdoor gear and apparel company WhitePaws RunMitts beat four local tech and coworking companies to win the business pitch competition.

Clayton earned a total of $27,500 in prize money, which includes both the $25,000 grand prize and the $2,500 People’s Choice Award, to support the growth of her outdoor gear and apparel company business pitch competition. The larger prize was awarded after Clayton and other competing startups’ founders pitched their businesses to judges like 410 Labs founder Dave Troy, Accessmatized LLC owner Takia Ross, Apollo Global impact chair Lisa Green Hall and Murphy Enterprises‘ owner Jason Murphy.

Clayton pitched her company, which is branded as one of only two outdoor gear companies owned by a Black woman, while wearing its namesake product: a pair of mitts designed to keep people’s hands warm while exercising in cold weather. While she’s had success in getting this and WhitePaws RunMitts’ other products out to the market so far (including retail placements in select REI stores throughout Maryland, Virginia and DC), Clayton said that this money will help her scale her operations and even begin local manufacturing.

“Winning the Crab Tank showed me that a small business like mine has viability in the city and is scalable,” Clayton told via email. “Considering the competition I was up against, it was a really nice feeling to win the competition. The grand prize will help me buy more fabric and put the deposit down to start manufacturing in the Baltimore area. It means [that] instead of feeling stressed about starting production, I can instead jumpstart that process.”

That competition Clayton faced included 2022 RealLIST Startups honorees EcoMap Technologies and Astek Diagnostics, as well as collaborative meeting space BrickRose Exchange and coworking facility The Cube Cowork. The money that she won was funded by Crab Tank sponsor and locally prominent bank holding company M&T Bank.

Baltimore Homecoming’s event may have wrapped, but it plans to continue engaging with WhitePaws RunMitts. The organization’s executive director, Robbin Lee, told that Clayton is one of several Amplify 2022 participants who will be invited “to join our host committee and to be part of Baltimore Homecoming’s future.”

“We plan to continue to support WhitePaws by continuing to amplify their work, progress, and success,” Lee added. “As we connect with our alumni-expat and local networks, we will seek opportunities to drive support to Susan and WhitePaws.”

Clayton won the first Crab Tank competition to be held since 2019, when plant-based feminine hygiene product developer Femly won the inaugural contest.

Companies: M&T Bank

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