Mother's Day is the perfect occasion to dress up and celebrate that special person who gave birth to you and loves you unconditionally. So we came up with our Top 5 Ways to show Mom how much you love her!
I saw this quote today, and found myself in a moment of thought...which is rare around my office, usually not so much time to actually think! Anyhow, this one really resonated with me today. There are many days in this business and in life where I run on high-speed, handling the daily decisions the best way possible, overcoming obstacles, and creating solutions. Then, there is the occasion, to be quite honest with you, where I am deeply challenged and not quite sure how to handle it.
To take a step back, I am not your average CEO. My formal education is not from a fancy Ivy League school. My parents, although both extremely talented and hard-working in their own right, do not have a college education. I am not the most well-spoken person you have ever met, nor the best-read. I try my best to keep up. I have two children that are at the top of my priority list, and this business was really baby #1 before they were born. I read a great business book when I can fit it in between days in search of carousels (my sons request this weekend), and I challenge myself to learn from others whenever possible. I think for the most part, I do okay most days. Really, I am not unlike most of you reading this post, most likely. We are just 'normal' people working super hard to do the best we possible can.
So, back to those challenged moments. I realized today that these challenges I face, are truly my most valuable teachers. Whether a loved one, an employee, or a vendor, those that challenge me, often force me to take a step back and evaluate. I evaluate my actions, the actions of others, ways to improve, and ways to grow. In retrospect, I should be grateful to these people. I should also remember in those moments that these will be the people to lift me higher, to make me better, and to teach me the most.
Do you have someone challenging you at the moment? In writing this blog, I often think it a bit silly to write about my life...really everyone has their own lives to worry about, why care about mine? But, I do it in hopes that what I am going through at the moment may touch someone else. May, the unlikely chance, be just what they needed to read that day. If you are being challenged by someone in this moment, maybe this perspective can help...what are they teaching you? I'm fairly certain I am stronger, wiser, and maybe even enlightened by the people that have pushed, tested, and challenged me the most. I may not have enjoyed the process (to say the least), but I am grateful for it.
With Spring weather finally here, people are clamoring for color! Teal is bursting out as the color to bring us out of winter's stormy hues. From nails to eyes, it is a color that looks great on all ladies, including the miniature ones! A refreshing change, this ocean-inspired hue is my pick of the week
This new RuffleButts ruffle-front tee is right on when it comes to the color, and when Amber added soft mesh ruffles waterfalling down the front, it was a homerun. What I also love about this top is that it is so universal. Pair it with the coordinating striped pants and you have a total outfit, making my life as a mom much easier with one less decision in the morning. When I want to spice things up, I’ll pair it with a cute RuffleButt and the super soft ruffled tights. Of course, I am all about the sparkles, as is my little princess, so we like to top of the outfit with some matching glitter Toms or maybe maryjanes.
This color is so reminiscent of a crystal clear Tahitian sea...I think I need a vacation now!
Of all the celebrities out there to choose from nowadays, seems a bit surprising I would pick this gal, known for her mean comedic pokes and no-care attitude, for my list of inspiration sources, right? Well, although I've always found her magnetic in some odd way, I recently put it all together. It was more than 10 years ago, Chelsea Handler jumped off the screen at me in this goofy comedic 'candid camera' type show called Girls Behaving Badly. There was just something about her...actually I know exactly what it was. She stood out to me as the type of person that commits 100% - if she's gonna do it, she's gonna do it all the way, which totally showed. BUT, she has a way of making everyone else believe that she doesn't really care. I'm really not sure if she would agree with me here (or totally make fun of this entire blog post all together...likely), but I am guessing that for most of her life, she was determined to achieve 'success'. It just seems so much to me that when she goes after something, she does it with everything she's got. I mean, this amazing success that she has achieved to date did not come accidentally. Although paid extremely well nowadays, it is a TON of work!
She oddly enough reminds me of myself in some ways, and completely not in others. So, here are my top 5 reasons why Chelsea Handler is on my list of people who inspire me:
1) In her rise to fame and success, it seems to be that she cares about others, and wants them to rise with her. Ok, who am I to make this call, but hear me out here. I've noticed that in almost everything she does, she does it with others. Think about it...Chuy, Chelsea's sidekick, has risen to his own star with her daily nighttime show. She also starts the show with multiple comedic guests, and while she often totally rides them on public tv, she does share the spotlight and gives them face time. It is all in good fun, and often quite entertaining. I just love that she seems to make it NOT all about her, and I have a lot of respect for that.
2) She is the master of dry wit. I'm SO envious!! It is often my husband or a friend will jokingly say something to me, and I just yearn for the ability to throw a quick come-back (of course all in good fun). Instead I can only laugh, and then about 30 minutes later think of a decent retort that is now completely lame in wasted time. I'm too 'nice' and it is no fun in moments like those!
3) She's honest. This is a tough one for me, as I highly value honesty, but I also place importance on empathy and the feelings of others (likely too much at times). Sometimes I think she crosses the line in her honesty about others (or flatly flies past it), but I also see a softness in her recently that I think comes with maturity. It is more her honesty about herself that I truly admire. She has this awesome way of not taking herself too seriously, or the people around her, that makes me want to be one of her best girlfriends. There is just nothing better than an honest girlfriend that tells you like it is...and makes you laugh!
4) She's hard working. She films her show daily, has written something like 5 books in the past 7 years (many of which have landed on the New York Times best seller list), and she also has a mokumentory called After Lately that has become a big hit of it's own. I think I also read somewhere that she created her own production company. This lady clearly works her butt off and has some serious work-ethic.
5) She's clearly to the point in her life where she does not live for the opinion of others. This has been a personal struggle of my own, and honestly this business has helped me GREATLY along the way. I remember vividly an Oprah interview with Jennifer Aniston where they talked about how great it was to get older and to stop living so much for others. I found myself much through my twenties caring immensely what others thought about my decisions, life, and success. It was when I discovered this amazing balance between empathy for others, and confidence in my own beliefs and decisions, that I was able to let go, and in the end make better decisions all the way around. From everything I've seen with Chelsea, she seems so confident in who she is and what she wants. That inspires me on many levels, but most of all because I feel she lives her life with intention and doesn't seem to waste time confusing people-pleasing ways with her own purpose.
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 2nd
RuffleButt 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
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.
Is there ever a day when you just need someone to tell you that you are good enough? I had a conversation last night that reminded me that we are all the same, just at different points on our journey. This business has been an incredible adventure and a path I was destined to take, but that's easy for me to say now. Looking back just 7 years, it was a totally different story. I knew my path was out there, but I hadn't found the on-ramp yet. I was determined to do something big, but truly didn't know if I was "good enough" to do it.
See, I'm really no different than anyone else out there, and really if you compare me to most CEO's, my pedigree does not compare. I grew up in KY, far from wealthy. No trust fund (I didn't know what they are). No ivy league education (I didn't really know what they were either). Actually, when I was about 13, my mom explained to me that she wanted to do as much as she possibly could for me, but her salary was limited and I needed to prepare for whatever it was that I wanted to do. IE, you want to drive, start saving for a car. You are going to college, but you are also paying for it. That was okay with me, and I had no doubts I could make it happen. I started working at 14 at a local dry cleaners and haven't stopped since. At 17, I worked two jobs and truly, honestly, didn't mind doing it. I went to the University of Cincinnati (not quite ivy league) and moved out on my own shortly before turning 18.
Long story short, I knew I wanted more for my life, and had no doubts I could get there, but certainly didn't know what the path looked like. As an adolescent, I think we all question if we are good enough...grades, status in society, relationships, friendships, whatever. I was no different. In my twenties, I felt driven, but wasn't sure in what direction. I was a little lost.
Looking back, it all makes complete sense. It was my path, my own journey that led me here. Every bit of it was a necessary page in my book. I was good enough every step of the way, but I just didn't truly realize who the "good enough" was for. It wasn't about my parents, or my friends, or even my bosses along the way. It was for Him. In the eyes of God, I was good enough all along. I just had to find trust, which lifted the weight off my shoulders and allowed me to look around. It allowed me to live much bigger, and free. I am so very grateful for where I am today, but I am equally grateful for my journey to get here.
Don't get me wrong, there are still days I question if I am making the right decisions, if I can handle this (there are a lot of people depending on me and I feel that daily), but there is never a day I question my worth. In my discussion last night, I wanted so badly to just hand over the answer, but I know that is not possible. So, I did the next closest thing, I shared the very valuable knowledge that she is absolutely good enough. I know so, because God made her that way. Now it is just her turn to find the on-ramp, and I can promise it is going to be one heck of a ride! She is an amazingly talented, driven, and beautiful person, but now she gets to discover that for herself.
Sound familiar? Did you have a certain age that you found your own path? For me, it was somewhere around age 26/27 and at 30, it got even better. I know it's not about age, but I think with age comes experience and wisdom. With wisdom comes faith, and with faith comes peace.
We had the pleasure of working with yet another fabulously talented photographer...this time in our hometown of Charlotte! What a whirlwind, but I am thrilled to see the final results...our Fall Collection come to life. Christine, the main talent behind the Dimples and Curls team, is awesome behind the camera. And her hubby, the official kid whisperer, did a fabulous job of getting that pure, from-the-gut laugh captured on film (SD card). Her mom, also her photog partner, was also a huge part of pulling this whole thing off!
I am happy to share with you her artistic talents at work. Oh, and did I mention, we had the most fabulous RuffleButts & RuggedButts models, who truly made my designs come to life?!
So, the most common question I receive when someone learns of my RuffleButts involvement is, "where did you get the idea?" After receiving the question this weekend following an introduction, I had a vast realization. I've been lying to everyone. No, this isn't some massive confession...but more an explanation. See, my answer is the typical, "well, I didn't have kids at the time, but was out shopping for a baby gift and couldn't find the ruffled bloomers of my childhood." Fundamentally, that is the true and honest answer, but the reality is that it was so much more. Simply put, the idea was my gift from God. After much begging, a lot of searching, and a TON of faith, the idea was simply my stepping stone from God. He laid out my path that involved numerous people, an unethical boss, an Oprah episode, a successful entrepreneur, a tremendously challenging and trying time in my own life, and some blind faith.
Let's get real...I didn't have children, honestly didn't know a darn thing about kids clothing. I had no experience in the children's clothing industry or any clothing manufacturing for that matter. I certainly didn't have any great connections or contacts in the industry to get me started. I was lost, like so many others, in my own career and search for fulfillment. I found myself praying every day for my answer...a career that would allow me to do positive things for others, something bigger than myself. I know it may seem naive or even arrogant to some when I say that RuffleButts is changing the world. I get that. I know we are simply making clothing for kids. But see, we see it a bit differently. We are sharing smiles, with moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, and the little angels of the world. We plan to grow this company to a size that can not only affect and impact a few thousand, but hopefully millions one day. Not only with ruffles, but on a much bigger scale. We truly want to do positive, to share smiles with millions and millions of people, to donate, to inspire. I promise you this, we will do it.
In church on Sunday, as I listened to our Pastor, Steven Furtick, talk about his job, I realized that I needed to be more honest with myself and with others. This business is not some fabulous idea I had on my own one random day. I am not some genius business person, nor some incredibly talented fashion designer. I truly just try to execute as best as possible this gift God has given me, my calling. I vow to do the best job possible, to inspire as many people as possible, to do as much good as possible, and to simply share as many smiles as possible. I do this 100% through my faith in GOD, and also 100% dependent on the amazing team that surrounds me, including my husband, Mark.
I realized this weekend that I sometimes shy away from giving my real and honest answer. I don't want to make others uncomfortable or make them think that I am some church-loving, faith-preaching, Christian. What the heck am I thinking...God gave me this gift and I owe it to him 100% to share it with others. See, when it comes down to it, I am a church-loving and faith-preaching in my own way. I would not be here without my all-mighty and wonderful God. I always want to give credit to my team here at RuffleButts, so why on Earth would I shy away from giving credit to my Father? So, here's my honest answer...my idea came from the most amazing place, a place I wish I could share with every single person around me, a place that finally gave me peace and purpose...a place of faith.
I have to be honest here, I really don't love the hiring process. Although I love the journey of growing the business and discovering awesome talent to add to our RB family, I don't love the actual process. In 5 years of running and growing this business I have learned a few things. One MAJOR lesson for me was the value of the "gut check". It is tremendously difficult to truly read someone in a 45 minute interview, but it is of the utmost importance for me to make the right hiring decisions. I carry the weight of responsibility not only for me and the success of the business, but also for our team. We are a small, tight-knit group and all feel the ripples when someone is not the perfect fit. Therefore, I take the hiring decisions VERY seriously.
I guess I really didn't expect the small business hiring or team-building process to be so challenging. Entrepreneurship encompasses a TON of challenges, but I personally was not prepared for how far up the list hiring would be. So, I've put together a few tips. Take them or leave them, but if you find yourself in the same boat, I hope you find them helpful.
1. Attitude over aptitude.
I have found that previous experience may be nice, but it's much more about the big picture. Are they positive? Energetic? Responsive? Passionate? A motivator? See, working at RuffleButts is far from easy. It is a complete requirement to be passionate about this company and your job in order to succeed here. You can be super smart, awesome at what you do, but if you don't fit into our company culture, you will not succeed. I think this rings true for any career at any company, but ten-fold at entrepreneurial organizations.
2. You will find what you are looking for.
If an interviewee opens will all of the things wrong with their previous companies, bosses, co-workers, I know pretty early on that they likely will not be happy here either. I know that some jobs just stink, believe me, I've worked them before. And some bosses are awful...yep, worked for them too. But in life, if you are looking for the negative you are certain to find it. And if you're looking for the positive, you'll find that too. An interview is an opportunity to shine and you are just not in your best light when focusing on the negative.
3. If they make mistakes in their cover letter or resume, they'll make mistakes in their job.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Not really. I have received resumes from some seriously talented and experienced individuals, but am dumbfounded by the number of grammatical and spelling errors. Look, I know we all make them, especially in email, but if you want a job bad enough, you'll spend 2 minutes re-reading your email or cover letter to make sure it's perfect.
4. Follow-up is key.
Mark used to laugh at my follow-up rule, although I think he has been convinced over the years. If I am hiring for any type of customer service or sales position, the candidate is completely excluded if they do not follow-up in some manner following an interview. You better believe if they can't thank us for our time, they are certainly not going to thank a customer for theirs.
5. The 'gut check' is the deciding factor.
This one is so tough, but I will do everything I can to give them a fair shot here. If I question my read, I will bring them back to interview with someone else and sit in. I don't have much time to waste, but I feel this time is ultimately time well spent in finding the perfect fit. Here's the rule, if you have a gut feeling that they are not the right fit, DO NOT HIRE THEM. I know the feeling, we're drowning, we have an open position and are losing thousands daily because of it. Not an ideal situation, but I commit to doing whatever needs to be done to ultimately find the right fit.
And my ultimate tip, and by far the most challenging...even if you've already hired them, if you know early on that it is not the right fit, let them go. The earlier the better for both parties involved. I owe this piece of advise to my entrepreneur dad. He's been in business for let's just say, many more years than I have, and has shared this advise over and again. I'm pretty darn stubborn, but this one has definitely proven true.
With all of this said, I feel so extremely fortunate to work with an AWESOME team, but I am the 1st to say that it has not been an easy task building it. I feel like we get better and better with each hiring experience and I will continue to commit to the process of building the 'perfect' team!
are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” –
think this is a common theme at RuffleButts. We, as individuals, have to behave
in an excellent manner. Not because we are looking to impress our boss
(although that is part of it), but because we don’t want to let down the many
people that depend on our work. I think this culture is what makes us unique.
We all have a mutual respect for the work everyone else puts in, because it
directly affects each other. It’s not often that a company has this type of
culture so deeply integrated; this is why Rufflebutts is such a great place to