Wow, what a crazy ride! As I realized it was 6 years ago this month that I made the decision to pursue this dream, it really brings me back to our roots. From my visit on the Anderson Show to landing on the Inc 500 List, this past year has certainly been an exciting one, to say the least. There are many days that I look around, amazed by our abundance of blessings and the journey that got us here. To think that I came from that little one-room office where I ran RuffleButts completely on my own in 2007, just a gal from KY determined to pursue a dream, is sometimes hard to even believe.
Don’t get me wrong, the story reads a bit like a drama in the start. I will never forget the 1st shipment ever, that arrived to my small little office. As I excitedly pulled open the 1st box, my kid-like giddy quickly went from thrill to emotional devastation. Turned out less than half of the shipment was produced correctly. My amazing mom hopped on a plane and came to my aid, as we individually checked each and every garment. Yep, she’s awesome!
Then, came our fun family twist…after 2 years and a bumpy road of trying, just 9 months into the business, God blessed our family with what we would later find out to be a perfect little RuffleButt model! I can do this, right? Be a Mom & Entrepreneur! I was inspired (and maybe slightly intimidated) by the many super-moms out there, and I was determined to do both and do them both well. So, on we went and I hired my 1st Assistant. Now, just 5 years later, we are 15 people strong, and what amazing 15 people they are!
So, as the story goes on, customers begged us to add something for the boys. We answered with an entire collection called Rugged Butts, all for the little guys! Just months after pulling the trigger on the new venture, God decided both of my families needed a #2 and my belly began growing again. We were happy to find out that we would have the joy of a 2ndRuffleButt model. Just to keep things interesting, a few months later, following the arrival of the 1st Rugged Butts shipment, our baby BOY arrived…yep, you read that right, they were wrong, it was a perfect, little Rugged Butts model!
As my family was growing, so was the business…right out of our office space! So, with a 4 week old baby in tow, off we went into an official (and MUCH larger) office/warehouse space. The entire team pitched in and made the move. A very big day for the RuffleButt family! To continue on this trend of upgrades, we decided our website was missing out…so shortly after the move came the launch of a MUCH upgraded website. We are always striving to provide our customers with the very best experience possible, in every way, so with our improved website came an improved shopping experience. With a few hiccups (and an entire crash at Black Friday), we dusted ourselves off and continued on our quest to spread the ruffles and share the joy!
Then came a phone call from the producers at Anderson…what, they wanted me, little ol me?? Turns out they caught wind of my story and a little person by the name of Sara Blakely. Yep, you may know her…super successful, Billion Dollar Entrepreneur, Founder of that little company called Spanx!! Well, Sara was just a determined, self-starter with no experience in apparel, venturing down a similar path not too long ago. I happened to catch an Oprah episode where I saw Sara speaking through the TV screen at me, back in 2007. Her passion and excitement spoke volumes and gave me that extra kick I needed to go for my own dream. I started RuffleButts Inc just weeks later! Anderson gave me my chance to thank Sara, an opportunity of a lifetime. The experience was one I’ll never forget and really lit my fire to pay the inspiration forward.
Today, our vision is much the same, although the story is no longer my own. I am now honored to share it with a team of amazing individuals, and a bevy of the most incredible customers EVER! We are blessed to do what we do, and it is our goal daily, to create unique products at a top-notch level of quality and customer service for the fabulous customers that got us here in the 1st place. We operate by the Golden Rule, just as my mother taught me. It is with true gratitude that I share this story, because if you are reading this blog, you have likely in some way, played a part in this story that is the RuffleButts adventure.
I continue to this day to be utterly amazed at the lack of ethics in business today. It seems that everyone is out for themselves. I have lost almost all trust in others. Well, that's not true, those that earn my trust, I value for life and would do anything for them, but those that give me reason to question, almost always disappoint. As I have had year-long relationships with many of our vendors and business associates, I have sadly learned that no matter how great our relationship may be, when $$ is involved, it brings out the worst in people. With that said, I will stay 150% committed to those vendors that have earned my trust as we continue to grow and will support them in every way possible.
I will continue to run this business by the golden rule, and will do everything in my power to do the right thing, but I am truly disappointed that not everyone in business works by these principles. The other sad lesson I have learned is if they are doing it to others, they are doing it to you, and vice versa. I try not to listen to gossip or negative talk, but if someone's customers and business associates do not have positive things to say about them, you should probably listen. If your vendor shares untrustworthy information with you about their other customers, they are doing it to you as well. The other biggest lesson I have learned in business, listen to your gut!!
If you are one of those people struggling to do the right thing, as it may cost you a little more, it may be a little more work, please think twice about the lasting effects of your actions. Think of who you want to be and the legacy you want to leave...is it really worth it? When you go to the grocery store and they accidentally put an item in your cart without charging you, do you let it slide? I promise, this world has a way to coming full circle...when you do the right thing, it comes back at you ten-fold.
For those of you who have so sweetly followed my crazy writings over the past year or so, I am very excited to tell you that I have an update to my Goals posting from this past December...
My husband, Mark & I are expecting our very own RuffleButt Baby!! Through faith and prayer, we were hoping for a little angel of our own one of these days soon, but trusted God to give us this miraculous gift when we were/are good and ready. I am thrilled to say that it is finally our time, we are expecting our little angel this November and we couldn't be happier!
I must admit that the first trimester was a bit of a tester for me, as I had no idea what morning sickness was all about. I was so in over my head trying to balance work and taking care of my body. As all of you entrepreneurs know, if you aren't doing it, no one is...we don't get "sick days" and I thought I was going to loose it. But, as we all do, I got through it, and am now feeling great! I still can't imagine how expecting moms with little ones already at home make it through this time, but I guess we all find it deep within ourselves to do what we gotta do.
My husband has been beyond supportive helping me in every way...he has packed orders (for those of you with a personal note from Mark at the bottom of your invoices), spends countless hours on accounting, and completely manages our myspace page, all while managing his own career in the mortgage business! I am one blessed little lady!!
I apologize for keeping you in the dark up to this point, but we wanted to get through those first few months and into the safe zone, which I am so happy to say that we finally are! We have our big 21 week ultrasound on the 8th, so I'll be sure to keep you updated. Patience is not a character strength of either one of us, so we will definitely be finding out the sex on that date (if the little one cooperates).
I am so very grateful for your support, thoughts and prayers over the past 6 months and the next 6 to come! I truly could not be more blessed with the business, my family, and now a little RuffleButt of my own! Life has a way of coming at you in all directions, and sometimes it is so difficult to understand, but from my experience, if you have faith, work hard, love life, and live by the golden rule, it all works itself out.