Today we celebrate the thousands of small business retailers that are such an important part of the RuffleButts family! There are many paths in life and the path of small business ownership is not for the faint of heart, but without those that choose to take it on, our communities would be much different. Here are a few stats from Entrepreneur.com:
- Almost half of U.S. jobs are held in companies of fewer than 500 employees.
- 54% of U.S. sales happen at small businesses.
- Small business donate 250% more than larger business to nonprofits and community causes.
At RuffleButts, we work with the most amazing boutiques all around the world. These boutiques contribute to their communities, from jobs, to relationships with the neighborhood, to giving back in so many ways. The people that we work with on a daily basis at these stores touch our lives regularly, many of them carrying RuffleButts since the very beginning. So, today we would like to share with you 5 reasons you should shop your local boutiques this Small Business Saturday:
1. Because the owner is likely your neighbor and maybe even your friend. Small business owners are not those Executives working to purchase a 3rd lake house and 10th car. They are your neighbor, working to put their kids through college and pay off their home. Small business owners wear many, many hats, and their work is often never done, but they do their jobs with passion and commitment, dedicated to their business.
2. Because boutique owners, unlike most big box chains, often spend time talking with their customers and discussing their needs. They then find the best brands to carry in their stores to fill these needs. These brands may not be the cheapest options out there, but they are often small businesses themselves and many, many of them create goods of a quality level that far surpass those of the big box retailer...like RuffleButts =)
3. Because local boutiques create local jobs employing local residents. It is likely that your teenager will someday be looking for a part-time job and these local boutiques are the places they will work and grow. I worked in a local dance shop called Not Just Dancewear as a teenager and learned so much about running an apparel store. I also used the money to purchase my 1st car. I will never forget that experience.
4. Because most local boutiques give back to the communities that support their business. As noted above, small businesses donate significantly more to community causes than large business. Many of the boutique owners we work with here at RuffleButts sit on boards of local nonprofits and organize community events for local charities. At RuffleButts, childhood cancer is something near and dear to our hearts. While today, we are talking about local boutiques, RuffleButts is also a small business. We are involved with our local community here in Dallas/Fort Worth, and are currently working with Cook's Children's Hospital to pay it forward and touch as many lives as we possibly can. Like many other entrepreneurs and small business owners, I started RuffleButts with big dreams, but very high up the list of those dreams was using this business to do something bigger than myself. Our customers enable us to pursue that dream daily.
5. Because they care. I can't speak for every single boutique out there, but I can speak for many of the boutiques that are a part of the RuffleButt family. These boutiques care about their customers. They work hard to ensure they stock the best brands and that those brands meet the quality expectations of their customers. They will go above and beyond to ensure a fabulous experience for their customers. When we come out with new styles, our boutiques will select styles based on individual customers, and they often even know them by name. There is something wonderful about buying from someone who knows your name!
With all of the hustle and bustle of Black Friday, today, we celebrate Small Business Saturday and the RuffleButts Retailers that are a part of it. Without them, our dreams would not be possible and your communities would not be the same. We celebrate the small business owners, their determination, commitment, generosity, and love for their communities. To find your local boutique that carries RuffleButts and/or RuggedButts click here. If your local boutique doesn't yet carry the brands, please send us a quick message here and we'll reach out to them. Happy Small Business Saturday!
I know this sounds a bit cheesy, but when I started RuffleButts, I had long prayed for a career change that would allow me to "do good". I had tossed around ideas to start a non-profit but didn't know how to direct my passions. I considered being a public speaker, but didn't really have much to say (and I dislike being the center of attention, which is likely not an asset in this career path!). I wanted to write a book, but writing is far from my strong suit. It was then that my answer came, crystal clear, RuffleButts was my calling.
To most, they would say that starting a children's clothing line, covering baby's booties in ruffles, is not saving the world. Well, you are totally right, but RuffleButts was my path to contributing something greater. It is on this path that we try to contribute daily. If it is just making a customer's day a little brighter with stellar customer service, or making a grandma smile at the sight of her 1st grand-baby in sweet ruffles, or being blessed to share our financial successes with others in need; it is these small victories that we feel are giving back to the world that is good to us.
So, I write these little lessons below in hopes that just one of them gives you some sort of little 'gift'. It may be a prayer that you prayed of your own, or maybe just a little lesson that you have yet to stumble upon in your own life. Maybe it saves you just one little heartbreak or hiccup. Maybe you're already here with me, but know of someone in their own valley. It is with this hope that I share some of my personal life lessons learned to date, often not the easy way.
1) People-pleasing ways rarely please anyone in the long-run.
For many years, I made decisions based mostly on what would please others. Although making others happy is still extremely important to me, it is not at the sacrifice of what I know to be true and best in my own heart. The best gift age has given me is the ability to care much less of what others think, and instead living for what I believe to be best and right. It brings an amazing clarity to life decisions.
2) Anything in life really worth having requires TREMENDOUS effort.
The cool thing, I have found, is most often it works out that the more effort it requires, the more worth having/rewarding it turns out to be. It is nice to remember this when something seems extraordinarily difficult...I can rest easy knowing that it will be one of the most rewarding, and almost always worth every ounce of effort I put in. My best examples here are marriage and children...at times a bit (ok, let's get real here....very) exhausting, but by far, the two (well, three really) most valuable things in my life.
3) As soon as you lose humbleness and gratitude you will be voted off.
This is my 'Survivor Theory', of which my employees are likely tired of hearing about. See, after 10+ years of watching Survivor, I have learned that 90% of the time, the moment the player begins telling the camera that they are the "puppet master" or the "master" of the game, the moment they are bashing others and feeling indestructible is the moment they are voted off. And even with the few exceptions when they actually stayed in the game for a few more episodes, rarely are they rewarded with the $1M prize. I think this theory translates from game to life...the moment you stop operating with gratitude is the moment you lose.
4) Do the right thing, you get the right results.
This applies to so much in life. It's as simple as doing your job right, working hard, and getting the results that you are working so hard to achieve. It may not be tomorrow (and sometimes feels like an eternity), but if you continue doing the right thing, working hard, not taking shortcuts or slacking off, the results will come. Same for life on a bigger scale...you treat people the right way, appreciate your customers, invest in your relationships, operate with ethics and gratitude...it all comes back around, pretty much guaranteed in one way or another.
5) Finding a career that is rewarding and even inspiring is truly possible.
I wanted so badly to believe this when I was in my early twenties, although I pretty much wanted to burn every "do what you love and the money will follow" book that I read! They made it sound so simple, "just follow your passion" they would taunt me. Problem was, I wasn't sure what exactly that meant! I wish someone would have just told me, "work harder than everyone else...at least make yourself proud at the end of everyday for giving it your best", "if you don't do it with heart and maximum efforts, then don't do it at all", "spend time figuring out what drives and excites you, then try to find a career that ignites those things in some way", and "God's timing is not always your timing".
6) Sometimes you have to go through the 'gunk' to get to the 'glory'.
This very much follows my comment about God's timing. I have learned to accept this over the years. Sometimes I need to follow a path that is not only unpleasant, but also unclear in order to prepare me for the glory on the other side. Even though I feel I am ready, and sometimes beyond ready, looking back, I understand much better why I had to take the 'not so pretty' path to prepare. I will use my children to explain my theory here...it was more than two years before Aubrey was conceived that I began 'trying' to get pregnant. It was with tears, joy, and ultimately patience that I received her into my life following years of question, and the miscarriage of another child. It was certainly not an easy path, but prepared my heart with patience and faith.
7) Suck it up!
Sounds a little harsh, right? Well, let me make this promise to you...there is someone out there who's got it worse. Life is tough sometimes, but it is your choice what to do with that. Is your glass half empty or just half full of opportunity to be filled? I look back at opportunities I had in my life when I chose a pity-party instead of a celebration. I watch this go down with people over and over again. Life goes by fast, you are never the only one struggling, it will NEVER fix your problems to bring down those around you, and it is never as bad looking back. The one who ultimately pays the price for your pity-party is you! It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
8) The last, but in my opinion, MOST IMPORTANT gift I have to give...when uncertain or lost, PRAY ABOUT IT.
I have learned, especially from my twenties to my thirties, that I do not have all of the answers, and neither does anyone else. The only place I can turn for guaranteed peace and direction is God. I, like many others, often forget this, but if I look back on the best decisions of my life, it is not with coincidence that I remember turning to God in search of the answer.
I certainly know that I have so much more to learn, but only wish I would have received these valuable lessons earlier in life. Then again, as stubborn as I am, I likely would have been determined to fall and learn them on my own! Anyhow, it is with a humble heart and hope that just one word of this touches your life in a positive way.
Although I am sadly a fan of some reality shows, I didn't watch the recent "Undercover Boss" show. I must admit I was intrigued when I saw the preview, mostly curious as a business owner myself, but missed the show. Since then, I understand there has been a bit of controversy over the premise behind the show...people love controversy!!! Anyway, Mark sent over a quote to me this morning from an interview with president and COO of Waste Management, Larry O'Donnell (the CEO on the show) posted on The Corner Office Blog. This quote really hit home with us, as this is very much our philosophy as well. We are obviously a MUCH smaller company, but I firmly believe that you must have a positive experience behind the scenes to share a positive experience with your customers.
"When you can transform your company from a place where people just show up to collect a paycheck to a company where they feel appreciated, they feel recognized, they feel like they have a voice and they become engaged in helping you solve the problem, what a powerful company."