Well with a post title like this, I could go on forever, but I'll try to keep this short and sweet! It was 10 years ago this month that RuffleButts was officially born. I actually started working on the business in March, but it was April that RuffleButts was officially my 1st born. In the past 10 years, to say I have learned a lot would be a bit of an understatement. Entrepreneurship has been a journey of growth, more than I ever could have imagined. A journey of both personal and professional growth! So, here's my quick summary of 10 lessons I've learned over the years:
1. Be thankful. I have learned that when I live and work with an attitude of gratitude, it makes me happier. When you're young, it feels like everything will be here forever and time goes slow. It will not and it does not. Don't take anything for granted, it can change in an instant.
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I have operated from this philosophy from the time I was little, but I find that not enough companies apply it to the world of business. I attempt to treat our customers and our team members the way I would want to be treated and I believe over time, it has helped our business earn their trust.
3. If you are not outside your comfort zone, you are not living up to your full potential. I think this one comes with age and experience. If life or work seems easy, you are not growing. If you are not growing, you are just standing still. For me personally, I am bored when standing still.
4. The things most worth having do not come easily. Marriage, kids, business, friendship. The things most valuable in life are the things that take the most effort and commitment. They are also the things totally worth it.
5. You have to give a lot to get a lot. Applies to everything listed in #4.
6. Perspective is a beautiful thing. If you look at everything through a lens of negativity, that is exactly what you will see. Look for the positive and find happiness. Sometimes you need to allow yourself one day of pity-party and then suck it up and deal with it. No one controls your perspective other than you.
7. If you haven't failed a lot, you likely aren't going to win a lot. If you want it, you have to work for it. I have never met anyone super successful that has not failed. I fail daily and I try again. Quitters never win, simple as that.
8. This business means the world to me, but my priorities are #1 God, #2 Family, #3 Work. #2 and #3 are gifts from #1.
9. I can work my tail off, but I can not do it alone. I am so fortunate to be surrounded daily by kind, caring, compassionate, supportive and hard-working individuals. I absolutely could not do this without them. Although, I am still learning how to ask for help when I need it.
10. Always give more than is expected. To your customers, to your boss, to your family. I have been shocked over the years in business by how many people only deliver the minimum and then cross it off their list. It is easy to stand out, go the extra mile. There is a great quote about that...go the extra mile, it's never crowded. This is so true!
I can not put into words the journey that I have experienced over these past 10 years, but I can say that I am beyond grateful to have experienced it! ~Amber
It's been a little while (too long) since I last posted on the RuffleBlog. While I love sharing our journey, time just gets away from me. I relate it a bit to having kids. I remember the 1st day coming home from the hospital and grandmothers literally stopping me on my out to tell me to cherish every moment, time will fly by. While I appreciated the advice, I couldn't really wrap my mind around the reality. Not only were they so right in that advice, the same warp speed world has trickled over to RuffleButts too. I don't know where the time has gone, but my "baby" is about to turn 10 this year and I have no idea how that happened!
Anyhow, this last week has been a growing up kinda week. You know those weeks with your kiddos where they start Monday as a regular 5 year old, but grow so much in their experiences through the week that they just seem a little older by Friday. Ok, maybe that's just me...anyhow, it's been one of those weeks here at RuffleButts. Our customers have been AMAZING and our company is experiencing awesome growth. We are beyond grateful to the people that are making that possible. With that said, it required an upgrade to our website to make it possible to keep up. We are 100% committed to our customers and their experience shopping with our company, so we were determined to do whatever necessary to make that happen this week. You can watch the video to hear the full story...
So, since starting this blog in 2007 till today, I will continue to share my truth, my journey, and our RuffleButts story. I hope that in some crazy way, my words will benefit or touch your life in some positive way. That was my hope and reason for starting this in the 1st place. I am honored that you take the time to read my words and to follow our company. There is so much to say, but "thank you" says it all.
The fact that we are able to use this business to share blessings with others is not one I take for granted. It was a goal from the very beginning. I honestly struggle with how much of our "pay it forward" initiatives to share with you, our readers, as I never want goodness to come in the selfish form of "what's in it for me" or from a place of boastfulness. Although, with that said, I have also learned that sharing the joy of giving with others is inspirational in more ways than one. It truly does just that, shares joy...and then I'm totally selfish for not sharing!
Ok, beyond my personal issue here, I am so happy to share a recent RuffleButts moment. One of our team members by the name of Tristan Lazor visited Haiti on a mission trip this past year. Tristan is a gentle but wise soul who inspires me daily by the foundation of her faith and commitment to others. So when a sweet letter from a Haitian orphan randomly appeared in my mailbox one day, I knew just who to enlist for help with this project! Tristan pulled together the perfect RuffleButt's gift and sent it on its way down to the country that is close to her heart.
We do this type of stuff fairly often around here, but once it's sent on it's way, we don't hear much about it. This time was different. We received the sweetest email from the organization and saw a link they posted to their own blog sharing the story. While we already had the simple joy of giving, their thank you made the experience beyond rewarding. Seeing a blind Haitian orphan jumping with joy in our ruffled creation..it just doesn't get much better than that!
So, I'm sharing our joy with you today. Watch the video, then count your blessings. It's also a great teachable-moment tool for your kiddos. My daughter talks about Angeline and this video almost weekly. It's pretty amazing that such a simple thing could bring someone else such a big smile, especially when our kiddos take these good fortunes for granted. When I started RuffleButts, my initial motto was "spreading ruffles and sharing smiles". While we don't use that so much today (while totally genuine, it sounds a little cheesy), it is still very much ingrained in who we are. And what a beautiful smile she has!
I'm not sure when exactly it happens, but there is a day post-parenthood that you open your mouth and your mom comes out! The 1st time I noticed it, I giggled to myself and then realized my mom had a few great sayings that I have carried forward into my own parenting. I have compiled a list below, gathered from my mom and the moms of those close to me, in no particular order. Would love to hear your top mom-faves too!
1. Treat others as you want them to treat you. (Not how they treat you, how you want them to treat you...my kids somehow get confused on this one often!)
2. Sharing is caring.
3. Always wear clean underwear (then my mom would elaborate with the "if you get hit by a bus and have to go the hospital, you want to have on clean underwear...I don't think I needed the explanation looking back!)
4. It's less about words and more about actions.
5. You can pick your nose and you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family.
6. Don't judge a book by it's cover.
7. Give more to your community than you take from it.
8. Anything worth having is worth working for.
9. Before making a decision, do the newspaper check...would you be proud to have your decision/action on the front page of tomorrow's newspaper.
10. No matter who comes in and out of your life, always stay true to yourself.
11. Things are much more enjoyable when you have earned them.
12. Drink lots of water and use moisturizer daily.
13. Put the seat down.
14. Be a person that builds others up, not one that tears them down.
15. Always tell your loved ones how much they mean to you, even when they drive you crazy.
16. It's not what you say, but how you say it.
17. Sit up straight.
18. This too shall pass.
19. Smile at people, it's a free gift that goes a very long way.
20. Be kind & have courage (this was borrowed from Cinderella's mom)
21. People who seem the least lovable, need the love the most.
Wow, 9 years! I will never forget the day that my "1st born" was actually born. It was in the kitchen of our little 2 bedroom South Florida condo that Mark and I had the discussion. It was a fairly quick and casual conversation that would change our lives forever.
Mark: So, did you apply for the trademark today?
Amber: I couldn't pull the trigger. It's so much money! I would feel so awful if I wasted that money.
Mark: Amber, it's $400. While it's a lot of money, we will survive either way. Will you regret it if you don't go for it?
Amber: Yes, I will definitely regret it. Ok, I'll do it! Are you ready for this? You know me, once I'm in, I'm in.
Mark: You know I will support you all the way.
Amber: Ok, I'm going to do it right now!
That was the day I made the decision to go all in. The Tony Robbins quote, "If you want to take the island - burn the friggin boats" defined that moment for me. I was all in from that day forward. It took me a few months from that date to actually execute all of the steps necessary to start the business, but it was that day that we made the decision to pursue this dream and more importantly I made the decision that my stubbornness was going to lead the way. I was determined to make this a success.
Well 9 years and an amazing team later (including my super talented husband that nudged me in the 1st place), this dream is a reality! That incredible team has made this day so special for me (see the champagne photo above!), which just reminds me yet again how lucky I am. Let me rephrase that...how blessed I am. I don't really believe in luck.
I don't want to gloss over the road that has paved these past nine years; it has certainly been one heck of a journey, but one that I wished for my entire life. I could not be more grateful for this opportunity. While there are days I think I may fall asleep standing up (I guess not unlike most moms!), it is truly an honor to do what I do. To lead the team that I lead; to clothe adorable kids all over the world; to sell to amazing retailers both here in the US and faraway countries I only dream of visiting; it is all a dream come true. I am beyond grateful for this path and will continue fighting for my team and customers, to become a household name and requirement for every kiddo's closet!
To everyone that has made this journey possible, I extend my sincerest gratitude...our team, my family, my amazing husband, our customers (who are the ones that truly make this possible) and our friends. My 1st born is 9 years old today...wow, it sure flew by!
It has long been a part of RuffleButts foundation to pay our blessings forward, but I've never wanted to toot our own horn. Mark and I have made these decisions pretty quietly for the most part, often not even telling our own team members. Following a sermon from my pastor at Gateway Church here in Texas, I knew I was doing everyone a disservice. I realized this Sunday that giving people the opportunity to bless others and sharing the joy of giving is an amazing thing. So this is my 1st step to sharing our charitable initiatives with you, our incredible customers!
As some of you may know, neuroblastoma touched our lives in a life-changing way back in 2009. It was not until 2010 that we shared this publicly and it turned our life and business upside down. I was blessed to have an amazing little girl by the name of Layla Grace touch the lives of my family and we will never be the same. This little lady is no longer here on Earth, but she is in my heart forever. It is because of her that childhood cancer has become a passion of our company.
Now 6 years later, we have relocated to the great state of Texas (which happens to be the home state of little Layla Grace), and have become involved with Cook's Children's Hospital here in Fort Worth. When I learned of a local event called The Blast, which was started to honor the promise one young friend made to another, to help find a cure for children suffering from this disease, I knew we had to be a part of it. The little girl that started the event was only a child herself at the time and started the the run/walk as a part of this promise to her friend, who passed away at the age of 7 from the disease. Last year the event passed the $1 Million mark in funds raised to help Cook Children's Medical Center with neuroblastoma clinical research. I am determined to help her in this cause!
I am so very proud of the RuffleButts team for rallying behind us with this event, many of them committed to showing up very early Saturday morning to participate in the run! If you are here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we would LOVE to have you join us at The Blast, Saturday March 26th. If you are not in the area, but would like to contribute to this initiative, we would love to share with you the joy of giving!
Please CLICK HERE to donate with the RuffleButts team.
We are truly honored to be a part of this event, and as the leader of our business, I am extremely proud to see my team rallying behind a cause so near and dear to my heart. ~Amber
So, if you are a fellow mom, you will completely empathize with me here...my children have entered the age of never-ending birthday parties! Don't get me wrong, this means loads of fun for my kiddos and a nice opportunity to meet new parents, but it also means a never-ending to-do list of birthday gift buying.
So you would think as the CEO of a children's apparel company, we would just gift our own stuff, but the reality is that most 7 year old girls and 4 year old boys don't get all that psyched when they open their new pair of shorts (or other everyday apparel). I also feel a little self-promoting at times giving out RB goodies. So, I have found a happy blend of the RuffleButts & RuggedButts stuff that always scores major points for my kiddos, along with a few go-to add-ons that fit the bill. I know how tough it is for me to get creative, so I thought I would share my top 5 go-to's here:
Cute and easy birthday gifts for girls:
RuffleButts Rash Guards ($26.50-$29.50) are always a huge hit. Want bonus points? Add their monogram. I don't know about you, but monograms are SUPER popular with my daughter's friends at the moment. We offer our swimsuits as small as size 3-6m and go all the way up to size 8. Want to go for the stand-out gift that everyone is talking about? Find a simple beach tote at Amazon, throw in the monogrammed rash guard, add a monogrammed beach towel and a pair of RuffleButts sunglasses ($14.50). While perfect year-round, it's extra perfect for a summer pool-themed birthday party!
For our younger friends, girls ages 2 to 5, we often opt for a RuffleButts Petti Dress. Those were prime dress-up years and their little faces light up at the sight of these massively fluffy and feminine creations! I typically receive cell phone photos within a week of the party with the little lady twirling in her present and the text "she won't take it off!" Of course Aubrey always loves when her friends tell her that she brought their favorite present. I don't know where she gets that competitive side...wink, wink.
This one can be in addition to #2 above, or a part of a collection of gifts. For Aubrey's 6th birthday, we invited their 18" friends to the party as well, and provided each of them a miniature version of the petti dress (above) to take home as a party favor. This was a BIG hit with the girls! If looking for a simple gift, you could pair the RuffleButts doll dress with some Our Generation accessories from Target, all for under $25-30. If you are looking for a more extravagant gift, put them inside this Wooden Wardrobe and cover your ears for the girly scream!
When it comes to 1st birthdays, these are the easy ones. From what I have found, kiddos usually have more than enough toys at this age, so some over-the-top clothes usually work perfectly. Our go-to is this First Birthday Tutu Set ($39.50) and we usually add her name to make it extra special.
For the Southern Girls (we live in Texas now, but it was always a hit in North Carolina too!), seersucker is almost always a winner. For little ones turning age 1 or 2, we usually opt for a monogrammed Seersucker Swing Top ($34 with the monogram) and the matching RuffleButt ($19). For the older girls, we have TONS of new seersucker styles coming in the Spring 2016 Collection!
Popular and easy birthday gifts for boys:
My go-to for pretty much every age is our Rugged Butts Birthday Number Tee. Funny enough, most little guys get pretty psyched to wear their new age plastered on a new tee! Sometimes I'll pair the tee with our Rocker Gray Wash Jeans to make a great outfit, other times I pair it with a sweet lego set. Really depends on the child here.
Legos, legos, legos. I don't know about you, but my little guy is pretty much obsessed with legos and has been for a few years now. This is my easy go-to on Amazon Prime for any upcoming birthday bash.
For 1st birthdays, I am usually thinking more about the parents than I am the kids, let's be honest. So, for the football fans, I usually go this route with themed apparel. From Rugged Butts, I know it will come all wrapped up and ready for me to throw in a birthday gift bag, which works extra well for moms with no time...well, that's all moms really!
One of the best birthday gifts we gave was put together in a mad rush, but the mom raved and raved about how much she loved it. I combined one of our Rugged Butt fedoras with a coordinating bow tie, short sleeve dress shirt and chino shorts. If you are looking to keep it under $30, a fedora and coordinating bow tie works great!
In more of the $50 range (which is more than we spend on just a regular classmate friend), the VTech Kidizoom Action Cam has been a huge hit. Jonas received this as a gift at Christmas and has really enjoyed it. A little pricey for a kiddie toy, but certainly less than a real Go Pro!
For the past 2 weeks I have been holding one-on-one meetings with every person that is employed at our RuffleButts headquarters to discuss their feedback and goals for 2016. One of my many goals for 2016 is improved and increased communication with those in my life, both personal and professional. This is step one. As I have been processing all of this communication, which has been totally wonderful by the way, it brought me back to my own goals for this year. The post below may sound a little cheesy to some, but those who know me well know exactly what I am saying here. So anyhow, I am sharing publicly and ignoring any fear of judgement that lies within. At 36, judgement has lost most of its power (most, not all). While I likely thought most of this ten years ago, I definitely would not have published it.
For 2016 this is what I pray here at RuffleButts...
Please use me, every part of me, to do Your work. To help those around me in whatever way I can. To notice those who need the attention; empower those who may need the confidence; to teach those who need the wisdom; to lift up those who experience doubt; to push those that may need the motivation; to challenge those who may need the humbleness; to listen to those who need to be heard; to share Your love in everything I do.
Please help me to show my gratitude to You and to those around me on a daily basis. I am eternally grateful for my life, my family, this business, for the people in my life, for the comfort of a heated home, for the daily use of running water, for the gift to impact others, for the blessing to pay it forward, for your grace when I make mistakes and most of all for Jesus.
Please continue to guide me in this business to do with it what You have always intended. I can not put into words my gratitude for RuffleButts, a literal answered prayer. For the amazing people You have sent into my life to walk this journey with me, to challenge me, to inspire me, to teach me. I only pray that I have given them a small faction of what they have given me. Thank You most of all for blessing me with a built-in business partner to make it all happen. Lord, You know our story would be so very different without him!
God, please guide us in communication, the communications with our customers and the communications with each other. It is so often we assume someone knows something that we have not said. Please lead us to share the joy of this business with as many people as possible. Help us to touch our customers with happiness; to make a grandmother smile with joy; to give the gift of precious memories to many, many mothers; to make a little girl sparkle with confidence in her new ruffles; to shower little boys in the compliments that will lead them to strong young men. We are so extremely grateful to see these smiles coming back to us in photos and letters from our customers. There is no bigger joy!
Please continue to guide me in how to use this business to help others. Please lead us in our efforts with Cooks Children's Hospital and multiply our gifts. We are so very grateful for the blessing to bless others. I know Your plans are very big in this area and I just pray that I am able to fulfill them to the max!
Lord, please prepare us for this AMAZING year ahead, because I know we are ready to take it on!
Over the years, RuffleButts and RuggedButts have been spotted on the kiddos of celebrities including Jana Kramer, Jessica Simpson, Ali Landry, Rebecca Romijn, Giuliana Rancic and Jessica Alba, and we are truly honored each and every time! Today, when we spotted Rugged Butts on Apollo (the little cutie that calls Gwen Stefani mom) for the 2nd time this year, we were honestly a bit giddy. Gwen Stefani is just plain cool. We envy her effortlessly perfect looks and I personally dream of pulling off such style. She is an incredible designer, clearly a stellar businesswoman, a talented singer and performer, seems to be a genuinely kind person, and was one of my most memorable concerts of all time! So today, we are excited to share the most recent spotting of Apollo in our Buffalo Plaid Button Down.
It truly never gets old seeing adorable kiddos rock our designs, celebrity or not. Such an honor!