Janyelle Milton is a Detroit native and founder of J Marie Premium Sneakers and Cashmere Feet. Two companies with an emphasis on the feet one created out of poverty and the other created as a solution to a problem- both billion-dollar industries.
She always had a knack for business and entrepreneurship which is what drove her to get a degree in business and entrepreneurship. Beauty and Fashion were important to her growing up. She attended Southeastern High school and worked hard to LATER be accepted to The University of Michigan.
After college, she started a career in customer service and insurance which lends to the impeccable service exuded in both of her businesses. J Marie Premium Sneakers is a Premium Sneaker Brand as an alternative for heels… it conceived in Detroit handcrafted in Italy. J Marie Premium Sneakers are Style| Quality| Comfort| Color.
Growing up you couldn’t catch her dead in gym shoes but her health and a quest to be comfortable left her looking for a shoe that was everything a heel was- feminine, artistic…sexy minus the discomfort….she didn’t find anything so she created her own line- J Marie Premium Sneakers.
Cashmere feet as mentioned was created in a time where she was in between jobs and needed an income and needed to cut back on what now would be a luxury vs a necessity- A pedicure. She created Cashmere Feet which is a company that boasts to give you unbelievably soft feet from the comforts of your home.
A company that offered customizable lotions, soaks, and scrubs for at-home luxury pedicures. Everything Janyelle Milton does is a testament to the core of her being a go-getter and a resourceful problem solver. A recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has driven her to want to give more Glory to God.
“The whole time I was sick….but I never let it stop me, a lot of my biggest feats was taken or done in most cases after hospital stays, I just want little girls who grow up in places that I grew up in and been through the same things I been through to know- you can keep getting up, that makes you a winner and you can be fly while doing it and while serving God- and that isn’t always a perfect image” Janyelle
We Empower Magazine got an exclusive interview with Janyelle.
Tammy Reese: What inspired you to become an Entrepreneur?
Janyelle Milton: I just always had a feeling for as long as I could remember that I wanted to help people, do something, be something.
I remember I was maybe 8 or 9, I took all my clothes and individually wrapped each piece up in wrapping paper with the goal of giving them to the less fortunate. Lol, it was right after Christmas.
I wrapped up a Brand new blue Jean and black velour Guess suit up to give and I hadn’t even worn it. As I got older I quickly realized that The Most High only expand you when it is to help others, so I knew to help on the scale I wanted to I’d have to have a business.
Tammy Reese: How would you describe your work ethic?
Janyelle Milton: Compassionate and hard working. Anything I do my heart is in it and that instantly makes you work hard because you want to please all parties involved.
Tammy Reese: What intrigued your passion for beauty and fashion?
Janyelle Milton:*Smiles Big* and laugh. Your question reminds me of being in the 9th grade and giving my friends makeovers and picking out their clothes, one friend was crazy enough to let me do her hair.
I wanted to be a model growing up. I was always intrigued by being a woman. I loved dresses, heels, make-up, switching up my style, and putting things together.
Tammy Reese: How did your sneaker brand being handcrafted in Italy come up?
Janyelle Milton: Well growing up you couldn’t catch me dead in “gym shoes.” I even remember a boyfriend getting agitated with me like ” Why do you dress like that, in heels knowing we are out walking and catching the bus”, lol I was so into fashion I would wear heels in situations that other shoe types would have been better suited for. But as I got older past my twenties.
I wanted something Different- comfortable. I was deep in the corporate world which means parking garages and a lot of walking. I lived in a downtown area and lived in an environment where the neighborhood was rated by its “walking score”. Of course, I encountered health issues as well. I was on a quest to find comfort without sacrificing style, quality and the sexy feminine energy heels gave.
I tried different brands but either it was childish, masculine, or too athletic. I thought where is the brand that caters to me? I’m not young anymore but I’m definitely not “auntie “. I was still fly and popping. I started exploring coming up with my own Brand and came across an Italian vendor who worked with the likes of Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Todd who was willing to offer an opportunity to work with their network to create a line.
It was unbelievable it’s like The Most High just dropped this out of nowhere and slowly gave me a sense to know- solve your problem. At first, I was trying to cater to trends. I marketed my Brand as an athletic Brand then hip hop, until one day I just thought- this is my chance, I can create the Sneaker Brand that I was looking for and I am.
Tammy Reese: What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
Janyelle Milton: I love creating. I love offering a quality product, I love inspiring people.
Tammy Reese: What feedback have you received from your customers?
Janyelle Milton: I mostly hear things like ” YOU made this, that’s dope”, or ” I love your style and the colors” and when they purchase ” Omg, I couldn’t believe how well made they were, how good they look”.
Tammy Reese: What impact do you intend to make through your business?
Janyelle Milton: Well right now I want to join the conversation of fast fashion and sustainability- it is a multi-faceted issue that I think plagues black women the most. Fast Fashion is a business model that mass produces cheap fashion at a rate so fast and affordable that clothing is as disposable as toilet tissue. It’s causing environmental problems mostly- clogged water sources, overcrowded landfills, and nonbiodegradable materials giving off harmful emissions.
So there is all this money being thrown at initiatives of sustainability- everything is about slow fashion such as my Brand to slow the cycling through of purchase because of quality, upcycling, and recycling. All great things but where does that leave women who have whole businesses such as boutiques that sell fast fashion, where does that leave women who only make enough money to purchase fast fashion?
The impact I want to make is bringing this issue to the forefront of my community so we’re not the scapegoat nor problem. I want to be the example of a Premium, socially responsible organization.
Tammy Reese: What advice would you have for aspiring Entrepreneurs?
Janyelle Milton: Get in tune with who you are…..be real about your strengths and your weaknesses. Play up your strengths in all your endeavors and always improve on your weaknesses. Always be you- that’s YOUR value proposition and niche. No one can be you. Never give up but in doing that always improve.
Be sure to follow J Marie Premium Sneakers on Instagram @jmarieshoes85_premiumsneakers
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Multimedia Creative and Personality Tammy Reese is an award-winning Writer and Journalist. Writing and Directing short films on social issues to spread awareness through the arts gained Tammy the Makers: Women Who Make America Award honor on International Women's Day 2019. Tammy currently serves on the Communications Committee for New York Women In Film and Television. She is also the Founder and Owner of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media.