Maria Running Fisher Jones #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth #NAHM #AmericanIndianandAlaskaNativeHeritageMonth
Maria Running Fisher Jones of the Blackfeet tribe, is a product and commercial legal counsel for Google Cloud Platform. She is also the co-founder of TPMOCS, a brand that specializes in creating authentic children’s moccasins made by Indigenous artists with a social mission of tackling poverty in Indigenous communities, Via Native Business Mag
As a hard-working IP lawyer for Google, Maria Running Fisher Jones is creating some big legal shoes to fill someday. But it’s the little shoes that really fuel the Blackfeet Native’s passion.
In 2014, Running Fisher Jones invested $25,000 of her own money to launch TPMOCS ― an all-Native business that creates handmade moccasins for infants and toddlers ― for the sole purpose of creating economic opportunity for her impoverished Tribe.
“The Blackfeet reservation has a nearly 69 percent poverty rate. When I would go home to visit my family and get my frybread fix,” she laughs, “I looked around and realized, ‘Wow, nothing has changed.’ So, I thought, ‘What can I do? How can I give back?’”
Then it hit her: moccasins! “Our Tribe has been creating these shoes for years, by hand.” Inspired, Running Fisher Jones began taking apart her own pairs of moccasins and studied them. “I realized that they are not that challenging to make.”
TPMOCS was named for the owner’s fascination with teepees ― “Someday, I plan to have one in my backyard!” ― and pulled from the Blackfeet name, “niitsiTaPi,” which means the “real people.” The shoe company employs up to six artisans throughout the year, all Blackfeet Natives living in Montana who fashion the children’s moccasins out of soft, flexible cowhide.
“What differentiates us from competitors is that TPMOCS is one of the only companies that employs Native American artisans to handcraft its moccasins. Plus, it is the only company producing children’s moccasins that gives back to the community,” says Running Fisher Jones, who donates a portion of the proceeds to buy necessities for the Blackfeet Early Childhood Center.
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