All for run, run for all. After getting out of the Navy as a Spanish linguist and with her firstborn under a year old, Martha Schoenewe felt a loss of community during a vulnerable time in life. Determined to challenge herself into finding a community, she decided to try running —something she had always hated— and push herself until she didn’t hate it anymore. Somehow, that method worked, and she soon became a runner. “And then I found the running community. I loved that they were super inclusive — all different people, all different walks of life, all sizes,” said Martha. The challenge, community, and additional endorphins soon shifted Martha into a runner.
Running along the boardwalk to hear the birds in the early morning eventually morphed into signing up for a 5k with a running group. But excitement turned to incredulity when Martha wanted to get matching shirts with her friends. It was then that she realized that most places —and even races— only carry standard shirt sizes. “I met a wonderful group of women who were part of this local running club, and they were the most inclusive people,” Martha fondly recalled. “They were plus-size women, they were amazing, and they were like, ‘yeah, I can’t get a shirt in this race.’”
The veteran was spurred into action, intent on her beloved sport having inclusive swag for everyone. “I need to make sure that other people like me can still be included in the community and be encouraged and be fully part of it without feeling like an outsider in any way. This is my time. I initially focused on including plus sizes, but then decided on plus size and smaller sizes because I don’t want to kick out some other part of the community. I want everybody to be in it.”
Martha launched Tangent Tees, a custom athletic T-shirt company that is made for plus-size people and smaller. Her focus is to “bring people and communities together with intentional inclusion for plus-size people.” She understands the deep need for community and inclusivity, but also the desire for personal expression. “People are not boxes. We are all unique individuals, and I think that should be reflected in clothing because our clothing is an extension of ourselves,” she explained.
Ever conscientious, she does what she can to limit waste and overhead, including choosing limited packaging for shipments and e-commerce over a brick-and-mortar store. “It’s really important to me to be responsible with the products that I use,” said Martha. Additionally, 10% of every shirt profit is donated to the buyer’s choice, whether that is a community arts program or a local veterans group. Recognizing that she wants to help other veterans during the difficult transition out of the military, the Tangent Tees owner is dedicated to offering community and resources as they adjust. “If I can give back to veterans in a way that helps mental health and community, [I want to]. That piece of connection for veterans is super important to me.”
Martha recently competed in the Military Entrepreneur Challenge pitch competition at the Business Beyond the Battlefield Conference in Arlington, TX. She walked away with a $1,000 grant, which was immediately used to buy three website domains for Tangent Tees, launching soon online. She also pitched in our National Military Entrepreneur Challenge at the Military Influencer Conference in Las Vegas this past Veterans Day week, taking the stage in front of hundreds of supporters, donors, and sponsors within the space.