Some people enjoy helping others, and some people make a career out of it. Emily Soloby most definitely belongs in the “career” category. For her efforts and her achievements, she was selected as the May 2020 Women In Trucking (WIT) Member of the Month.
Soloby is co-owner of AAA School of Trucking, which has locations in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She is also founder and CEO of Juno Jones Shoes, a start-up that markets footwear for women who work in nontraditional industries.
A graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, Soloby’s educational studies changed as she defined her career goals.
“I worked helping women filing for court orders for protection,” she told The Trucker. “I wanted to help, so I went to law school.”
After law school, she began working for a nonprofit legal-services firm, helping low-income clients. Her personal involvement with clients, although gratifying, took a personal toll.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it forever because of the intensity of the work,” she said. “I decided to go back to graduate school.” That’s where she met her husband, Ryan.
When a relative who founded the AAA School of Trucking decided to retire, Emily and Ryan jumped at the opportunity to take over the business.
“We’re both very entrepreneurial, so we went for it,” she explained.
While Ryan runs the day-to-day operations of the school, Emily puts her legal expertise to work.
“One of the things we love about it is working with funding organizations to get students who need a hand up, maybe for occupational rehab or job training,” she said.
The school’s website lists funding sources for the unemployed, job fields training, veterans and vocational rehabilitation among the sources available. The school also offers in-house financing to qualified individuals.
Emily estimates that 10% to 15% of the school’s graduating students are female. The director of the Harrisburg campus is female as well.
While performing her duties, Emily Soloby found that she often had to change her footwear to prepare for the different environments she encountered. The shoes she wore to a business meeting, for example, were not appropriate for a job-site visit or a ride-along with a CDL student. Realizing that other women working in nontraditional roles must have similar experiences, she determined that a new shoe design was needed. She consulted with fashion experts on the design and initiated a funding campaign to raise capital to start Juno Jones Shoes. The results were enthusiastic.
“We did a Kickstarter campaign in February and reached our goal in only 29 hours,” she said. “We were up to three times our goal when we suspended the program, just as COVID was shutting down the country.”
The design chosen for the Juno Jones Shoes’ first product was the “Meti” boot, a side-zip product that has a steel toe, a puncture-resistant midsole and a nonslip lug-tread sole incorporated into a design that in no way resembles a man’s work boot.
“Women are tired of the ‘shrink it and pink it’ marketing mentality,” Soloby explained. “We wanted a product that is specially designed for women’s feet.”
The boots are available for purchase on the company’s website (junojonesshoes.com), and Soloby offers a 25% discount for anyone using the code Trucker25.
The company plans to introduce more designs in the future. Currently, the plant that manufacturers the boots is shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions but is expected to reopen soon.
To help market the shoes, Soloby started a Facebook group called “Hazard Girls (Women in Non-Traditional Fields)” that allows members to discuss their experiences. The group has blossomed to more than 830 members, and a regular podcast is in the works.
“We did a WAM podcast for Jacket Media (jacketmediaco.com), and the producers liked it so much that we’re getting our own regular half-hour podcast,” Soloby said. “We’ll interview women who are influential in fields that are traditionally male-dominated.”
Soloby’s interest in the Women In Trucking organization was a natural.
“As a big supporter of women in nontraditional fields, WIT only made sense for me. It ties in with both businesses I’m involved in,” she said, adding that she appreciates the organization for role is supporting women — and her personally.
“Ellen (Voie, WIT’s president and CEO) is fantastic,” Soloby said. “They have been so
When asked to describe herself, Soloby listed family first.
“I’m a mom of two small children, ages 6 and 9, running two businesses,” she said. “One I co-own with my husband Ryan, and the other is a recent start-up that I’m CEO of.”
Asked where she finds the motivation for all the thing’s she’s involved in, Soloby said, “I have a lot of energy, and I like to stay busy.”
That energy, combined with her education and her entrepreneurial spirit, will undoubtedly lead Soloby to new ventures in the future. She is not too busy, however, to remember commercial drivers.
“I thank all of the truckers for everything they do,” she said.
And, why not? Some of them may soon be hauling boots and shoes for Juno Jones Shoes.
Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.