LEWISTON — Attention to detail in a handcrafted environment is an essential skill. At Quoddy Inc., it is a skill that extends beyond the floor where shoes are handmade by a small group of crafters and support staff members.

One of them, Angie Wright, came to Quoddy at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic from the food service industry, where she’d been a cook for over 20 years.

“The industry just was not appealing to me anymore, especially when COVID hit,” Wright said, “It’s a tough business.”

At the urging of a friend, Wright applied for a position at Quoddy as a finisher, something she for which she had no prior experience.

Angie Wright stands June 7 before a display of shoes at Quoddy in Lewiston. She does a bit of everything — from customer service to preparing shoes to be shipped to building the display of handmade shoes Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“After the shoes are completed, you have to put the insole in, the laces, doctor the leather, if there’s any dings or anything, package it up, send it over to shipping,” she said.

Eight months later there was another opening in customer service — a second position to help longtime customer service manager Elizabeth Pendleton, who works remotely from Eastport.


Wright took the position, but said she was very unsure of herself in the beginning. “At first, it was scary,” she remembers. “I knew that I could do finishing but I was not very computer literate at all — I’m a two-finger typer.”

“At first, she wanted nothing to do with computers, having mostly worked with her hands,” owner Kirsten Shorey said. “Once she became proficient in her work, she gradually took on more responsibility, such as inventory and assisting Elizabeth … as a production liaison.”

Now, four years later, Wright said she can fly on that keyboard. She had to learn an entirely new business on the job and her bosses say she’s done a great job. There are dozens of shoes to learn, colors, styles, accessories and all the services Quoddy offers to customers from Maine to Japan, Europe to Australia.

Angie Wright brings a cart of shoes to the stitching area June 7 at Quoddy in Lewiston. Quoddy shoes are handmade at the Lewiston manufacturer in the Pepperell Mill building at 550 Lisbon St. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Wright said she likes the variety in her job and every day is different. “If I was down all day just sitting at a computer, I’d be very unhappy,” she said.

But like her old job as a cook, she likes to move around and that can mean tracking down an order for a customer, helping her co-workers find missing hardware, handling emails and phone calls, distributing jobs for the hand sewers and she even pitches in at her old job when the need arises.

Kirsten Shorey said Wright handles email, knows how to use the fulfillment system and can create and use spreadsheets — tasks she had never done before.


“Today Angie is one of our most valuable employees — working in customer service, inventory management, production scheduling, and more. And she’ll still help out in finishing when Tina is out or if we just need extra hands,” Kirsten said.

Wright said she feels right at home and loves the work she does, even if the early days were a little daunting. “I had very good teachers,” she said. “Kirsten is wonderful, she taught me a lot of the community system as well as Elizabeth has guided me. And I kind of learned on my own just by looking and like, okay, I did it this way that time — this way works better and things like that.”

Quoddy shoes are seen June 7 at the manufacturing plant on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. They are hand stitched and come in dozens of styles, colors and leathers, something customer service liaison Angie Wright said was tough to learn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

With time, Wright has become more integrated and has taken on whatever has come her way. “During the process of me being here made me — because I’m the eyes and ears on the floor for  Elizabeth — made me be out there more as well,” she said referring to being out on the floor with the shoemakers and other workers.

Dealing with customers directly can be trying in any business and Wright says she encounters difficult customers at times. Without prompting, she shrugs it off and says it’s important to maintain her professionalism. “You know, you have to be nice — the customer is always right.”

That’s music to the ears of her bosses and her co-worker Elizabeth Pendleton. “Our customer service support has been enhanced by Angie’s ability to communicate kindly, effectively, and promptly. I am grateful for not only the opportunity to work with Angie, but also call her a friend.”

At home, Wright says she likes to read, dabbles in the garden and tends to her flowerpots, or sits by the fire pit. And yes, she still cooks.

“I’ve got like two children, so I cook dinner when I get home,” she said. But she and her husband will become empty nesters this summer as the kids go off to college and she’ll have to learn to cook those casseroles for two pretty soon.

Still, Wright said her family supported her decision to change careers, something very important to her. “They just have been right there by my side. I’ve got a pretty good support system, so I’m not really afraid of anything.”

“Working” is a monthly feature highlighting an individual, group or business and focuses on what they do for their job. It’s a great way to recognize people for their work or an entire career. If you have a suggestion for or would like to nominate someone for recognition, send an email to: cwheelock@sunjournal.com 

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