Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Planning

This last week has been stocked full of decisions. I think my brain is on overload and seriously can't function properly!! So, it seems that in this business everything comes all or nothing. We'll be slow for a month or two and then we get a flood of business over the course of a few weeks. PR and advertising will run with little response for a month or two and then bam, we receive calls from numerous publications. Maybe this is just God's way of keeping me grounded and hungry for success. Well, I'm hungry alright, as I'm sure many retailers are at this time. Business was just plain rough in Q4 and I, for one, am ready for the flood in 2009!

So, back to those decisions...this past week alone has been one of various opportunities and therefore decisions. We were approached with a last minute opportunity to return to the Boom Boom Room celebrity gifting suite. We had made the decision to pass this year purely due to the cost and lack of budget. Turns out we may be able to pull it off after all. Crazy thing is, Emily and I will have to leave on a flight in one week to head out to LA (Daddy is staying home to hang out with his pumpkin)! We have a lot to do to pull this one off!

Simultaneously, I was trying to make a decision on the Atlanta apparel market next month. I was planning to attend the show, working our Stella Jane & Friends Showroom, when I found out that my husband is actually in a wedding that same weekend. Since our little one is still so young and breastfeeding, we decided that it wasn't really feasible for us both to go to the wedding (out of town and a flight away)...so, off I will be going to Atlanta in a few weeks, with Aubrey in tow! I always said I didn't know how all you mompreneurs made it all happen, but I am quickly figuring out that you just do what you've gotta do, and we just find a balance in there somewhere!

On top of all that, I am trying to finalize our market plans for Fall 09. Booker & Company has a fabulous co-op opportunity for the upcoming Vegas KIDShow, which we attended last year. As a new company, this show was not a profitable one for us, but with Gemma's sales skills and our current brand awareness, I think this would be a good opportunity for us. Trade shows are always a tough one, as it is always a gamble and with the recent turn in the economy, attendance has been down overall. With that said, I feel that we have been so well received over this past year, but what we need is exposure. The stores that know about us are pretty loyal. Their customers buy our products and therefore they buy our products. It is the thousands of stores out there that don't know about us yet, that I am trying to reach. I know this happens over time through PR and brand awareness, but I think that trade shows are sometimes just a necessary evil. I don't mean this in a bad way, it's just that fine balance of cost, ROI, and publicity, and that big question...is it worth it?

I have also been working on our marketing plan/budget for 2009, which is also always a tough one. As a business owner and CEO, I want to make good business decisions, but so many marketing opportunities are again still such a gamble. We finally took the leap and placed some national magazine ads in Q4, but with the turn in the economy, those turned out to have extremely low ROI. Was it the publication, the timing, the ad, or a combination of the three? With sales low as a industry, we just don't have the funds to gamble, but we are also in a prime position for growth and understand the "spend money to make money" situation. My goal this week is to finalize this marketing plan, really analyzing the numbers, and hope that I make the best decisions for our brand. I have a really great feeling about 2009 and am not getting off this roller coaster any time soon!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from everyone here at RuffleButts! It has been crazy as always, both with the business, as well as the home life. We were blessed to have two sets of grandparents in town to share in the festivities and Aubrey was a little angel for her first Christmas celebration.

Thank you for your continued support of us here at RuffleButts. Thank you for your friendship, enthusiasm and advice over this past year. We are very excited about the year ahead. We wish you all the very best and look forward to hearing of your successes!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2-DAY DISCOUNT!


As a sincere "thank you" to my incredibly supportive RuffleBlog readers, we are offering an exclusive offer to save 15% on your RuffleButts purchase for the next TWO DAYS ONLY!! Just enter the voucher code BLOG_FRIENDS at checkout. And to top it off, we are offering special one-price holiday shipping, so order as much as you'd like and your shipping is only $4.50 for USPS First-Class or $6.95 USPS Priority!!

Our Personalized RuffleButt Bloomers make a really special gift for the little angel in your life, and we have ton of ruffled fall styles that are perfect for this holiday season. Want to save a few $$s?? Check out our Sale Page where some items are marked down as much as 33% and now you save an additional 15% ! Or, check out our Gift Sets where you now save the 15% on top of the set discount...this is one heck of a deal for the holidays!

I sincerely appreciate all of your support, encouragement, excitement, and advice over this past year. It is my true pleasure to offer this savings to you at this joyous and festive time!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Early Resolution

Okay, I know I have a fairly good excuse at the moment, but this has been a challenge to me really since starting the business...I am absolutely horrible at keeping up with correspondence, emails and voicemails, and remembering dates and appointments that are not on my work calender! And now that I have a new baby on top of everything else, it is a bit out of control.

Here's my problem, and I'm sure many of you can relate, I receive an email, I read it, and plan to respond. I then find that I have to deal with the 10 other things that are on my immediate to-do list, put it off till later in the day, when I find that 1st message has slipped off my inbox screen due to the 30 emails I have received in the meantime, and then completely forget to go back and reply. I think of it in the middle of the night, or at dinner-time, and have pure intentions on replying 1st thing when I get back in the office, but again, it just slips my mind as I get caught up in the many other things that are in front of me. I have learned that I am, as my husband calls it, an "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" person, and this is my resolution for the coming year...I am going to find a system that helps to solve this character challenge.

I know many of you are probably thinking that we all have this problem and it is not that major, but lately, I am finding that it is spreading to other aspects of my life and really is a problem. I find myself not being a very good friend, as people think it is not important to me to respond to their emails, but it truly is important...I just forget when I am at my computer, as I deal with other work issues all day long. I also find myself not responding to requests from work related issues, as I respond to the more pressing emails, or "put out fires" and then forget to go back to those less pressing emails that still require a response.

My intentions are always to go back at the end of the day to get caught up, but somehow I just find myself deeper and deeper in this challenge. So, there it is, my big flaw, but I am vowing now that I am going to improve!! So, if you have written me, with no response, I apologize in advance, and promise to get back with you soon =)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Baby Wears Prada

So, I have another website that I just have to share...BabyWearsPrada.com is a new review website for children's apparel and since it's late August debut, has been a total hit with moms everywhere!

The website was created by Shanna Marsh, and she has done a fabulous job of getting it up and running, working with some of the best brands in the business. We were honored that she included RuffleButts in that list! Shanna explains the idea behind her brand on her 'About Us' page, including the inspiration from her adorable family (below), but this pretty much sums it up...


"I created Baby Wears Prada so mommies everywhere can come here and get their daily dose of info. Want your darling angel to have the same outfit as your favorite celeb baby? You've come to the right place! Looking for the perfect unique gift for a birthday? We've got that too! Has back to school shopping got your head spinning with so many options? Have no fear, I'll break it all down for you and even tell you where you can get that much needed outfit on sale!"

For moms, this is a great place to keep up to date with the latest trends in baby apparel, for other business owners, it is good opportunity for advertising and product reviews. Shanna's newsletter which goes out to more than 3500 subscribers, is very well done and showcases a handful of brands each issue. To top it off, Shanna is a total sweetheart, and I just love working with great people!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baby Cha-Cha

Okay, I promise not too turn this business blog into an Aubrey picture photo gallery, but I just had to share this one...

Janie Dale, the Owner/Designer over at Baby Cha-Cha Boutique, was so unbelievably sweet and sent this adorable tutu and headband set over for Aubrey. It is so incredibly precious, I just couldn't resist and had it on her within minutes. What an absolutely perfect baby gift!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

She's here!!!


I am so excited to share the good news...Aubrey Raeann Schaub made her grand entrance a little early and arrived on Wednesday morning, November 12th! She is happy and healthy and we are in our glory. I have always had an appreciation for moms and their little angels, but I must admit, I am honored and thrilled to join the club. I started this business because I couldn't think of a customer I would rather work with, as moms have the most amazing role in this world, but you never TRULY understand until you see that precious miracle placed on your chest, staring back at you.

I am counting down the days until she can start wearing her little RuffleButts, as I already have her personalized holiday bloomer made and waiting for her. It will be a little "fluffy", but you better believe she will be wearing them very soon! It was always so fun to design for the little angels everywhere, but it will be extra special to design now that I have my own little angel, as my inspiration has just doubled!

I truly appreciate all of the support and prayers I have received from customers, vendors, business owners, associates, friends & family. I have always known I was extremely blessed, but this definitely tops the charts!

Her proud Daddy has created an entire page of Aubrey pics - you can check them out by clicking here - Aubrey Pictures

Monday, November 10, 2008

Last prego pic

Okay, this is the last prego pic update...as we are due next week, and I am pretty ready at this point =) I'm sure this is what everyone says at this stage, and really, I feel so blessed to have had such an easy pregnancy overall, but I must admit there will be some relief to look in the mirror and have lost at least some of this water-weight! You definitely will not be seeing any pictures of my feet on this blog, but I must tell you...they honestly look like they are about to explode!!

So, if any of you moms out there have out-of-town parents/in-laws, I'm sure you will know exactly what I am talking about, but our parents are so very cute...out of the three sets of parents, all but one are 1st time grandparents, so I would say that they are even more ready than we are. And every time we call to check in, the 1st question is "are you at the hospital??"! We are so blessed to have such supportive family and they are all ready to hop in the car, the minute they get "the call"!

We are officially due next Friday, and I am crossing my fingers that we don't go pass that date, but it is in God's hands, and I think he knows what he's doing! I am trying to use every bit of time that I have to make sure business is in order around here, and our team is doing such a great job of staying on top of everything to make sure I don't fall too far behind. It's a little crazy with the holidays so quickly approaching, but I couldn't ask for a better time to be so thankful!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Holiday RuffleButt Bloomer



RuffleButts, Inc. (www.RuffleButts.com), a hip and trendy line of infant apparel and home of the RuffleButt Baby Bloomer, announced this week the availability of their new limited edition Holiday diaper cover. Priced at $25, this unique and personalized bloomer is a special edition of their well known RuffleButt Baby Bloomer, featuring an adorable holiday design, along with your monogrammed name of choice.

These high-quality bloomers, which are made of 100% cotton, are the perfect choice for holiday pictures or personalized holiday gift. As with all RuffleButts apparel, the bloomers are available from size 3 months to 2T and are machine washable. Of course, the company will continue to offer their everyday Personalized RuffleButt Bloomer available in the standard white, pink or fuchsia, but the special edition Holiday Bloomer features the extra holiday embroidery design at no additional cost.

Press Release: RuffleButts Announces Special Edition Personalized Ruffled Diaper Cover For The Holidays

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Never really stops

It is amazing how this business just never stops! On a recent Oprah episode, as she was interviewing the Olson twins, Oprah made a comment that was oh so true...she was saying how the magazine business and the fashion business are similar in the way that your work never really stops. With the tv show, Oprah was saying that she gets to take a break, step away between seasons, but with the magazine, as one issue is closing, they are already working on the next. I never realized this about the fashion industry until I immersed myself in this business. Just as I come to peace with one collection and get it launched on the website, we are off to work on the next!

As Emily mentioned last week, we have recently been working on our upcoming Fall 2009 Collection, and I am super excited to see it come together. Emily is a talented addition to the team, and it is very fun to see our creative ideas bloom into frilly little creations for your little angels!

I know with any business, it is sometimes easy to get caught up in the daily tasks, but I am really trying to focus on the longer journey. Sometimes it is very good for your business to take a step back, draw out a plan going months down the road, and figure out where you are headed. Where do you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year? Are you working with the people that can get you there? My father, who is a much more experienced entrepreneur, gave me a very good piece of advice when I started this business...he told me that every ship needs a captain that is looking in the distance to steer the ship and as the CEO this must be your role. If you are just paddling along with no ultimate destination, the storms will be much more difficult to navigate.

If you haven't done this lately, sit down and write out your goals for the upcoming year...business, personal, sales, marketing, your team, your family, etc. Make sure you are headed in the right direction and draw out your plan to get there. This doesn't have to be exact, but make sure you are the captain of your own ship...it is your ultimate destiny and set your sights high!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Design Process

Written by Emily...

Another week wraps up here at RuffleButts! I am always amazed at how fast the time goes. This week was very exciting as Amber and I have been working on new design ideas for Fall ‘09. I can come to work to use my creative side, which is new to me, but something I look forward to each and every day.

I never realized how much time and work goes into coming up with new designs. The design process includes so many aspects I never even knew existed. We brainstorm to figure out what will look the best. What styles do we like, which ones will fit the RuffleButts line? What colors? What materials? How many? Prints vs. Solids? These questions are a small glimpse into our world and what has to be done before we can move forward.

It is essential to make sure everything is perfect before production, but it is easy to get caught up in what needs to be done. At the end of the day it is important to sit back and appreciate how lucky I am and how much fun this is!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Advertising

Over these past few months, RuffleButts has ventured out into the world of print advertising, and wow is it pricey!! This has proven to be such a tough decision-making process for me, because you pretty much have to spend the money upfront to figure out what really works for your company. A few months back we decided to take the leap and signed on for two advertising campaigns, one in Cookie Magazine and the other in Baby Couture Magazine, from what I found two of the more affordable options for us...and when I say affordable, I do not mean cheap!! And for a frugal gal like me, let's just say this one was a tough one for me to swallow! Prior to these campaigns, we were so very fortunate, to spend not a dime on print advertising, so this was a big step.

With the recent changes in the economy, it is such a unfair time to judge the results of these campaigns, as everyone is seeing a slow-down, advertising or no advertising. We are definitely seeing some results from these ads, but not quite what I had hoped for. I am telling myself to be patient and let it run for more than one month, but when it is your business, your baby, and your investment, patience is not as easy to come by!

I have had a few other business owners recently ask me for my suggestions when it comes to advertising, and although I have shared a few of the less expensive investments we have made over the past year, I would hate to be responsible for a larger print recommendation with little data to go on. It comes down to return on investment, and although a $25 ad may be much easier to swallow, if no one sees it, it is a $25 waste.

I am learning that you can have the most fabulous product in the world (although I may be a bit bias), but if no one knows about them, it does no good. I am learning as I go, and have found that if us business owners stick together and share our marketing successes, we can all learn from each other and help to save on those "learning experiences". One recent discovery I have made is www.iBookersGuide.com. Gemma recently launched this website after many years in the business and from what I have seen so far, she really seems to have the best interests of others at heart. I have recently joined the site, and recommend that you do the same if you are in the children's products business. I know we are all a little overwhelmed with social networking sites, but so far, I have found this one well worth my time spent.

Friday, October 24, 2008

An Introduction to Emily!

We are so excited to introduce you to Emily, our newest addition to the RuffleButts family...

It is never easy to sit back and write about what best describes you in couple of paragraphs. Here it goes:

After having three boys my parents were desperately praying for a healthy little girl and they finally got one. I was born in Florida and although I have not lived there for some time, I believe it is the reason I am so in love with the warm weather! At the age of 9 my family moved to North Carolina and has been there ever since. Being one of five children made life interesting and rarely boring. Even though there were trying moments growing up with so many people watching, I really am unbelievably blessed to have such a great family. This past weekend my brother Ryan got married (Congratulations!!) and my husband pointed out how lucky I am to have such amazing immediate and extended family members. Sometimes I forget they are there, but the happiness I get from being with them is indescribable.

After graduating from a small high school I tried my luck at a large university UNC-Chapel Hill. I loved being a part of the amazing environment there, especially the basketball games! It is also where I met my husband of now 2 and a half years. After two months of marriage Michael’s job transferred us up north to New York City, a place I never thought I would ever live.

As we both adjusted to the big change things slowly started to click into place and the next two years would be something I will never forget. The difficulty of being in such an unfamiliar place helped me appreciate all that I had. Soon it was more like home and not just a place where we had to work and live. I had the opportunity to work for an amazing family while I lived there and would not trade my experience for the world! Two wonderful little girls and their parents taught me so much and for that I am forever thankful.

Our life in NYC was over sooner than we expected. Michael and I moved to Charlotte, NC at the end of this summer. Although Charlotte is still new to us, we are becoming more familiar with the area and are happy that life is a little less hectic. This is where RuffleButts comes in! My sister-in-law emailed me about the opening at RuffleButts and I immediately called in hopes of an interview. Talking with Amber was so inspiring; she really is an amazing woman who has worked hard to do what she loves. When I finally found out I got the job I started to cry as Michael grabbed and hugged me! A couple of weeks in and I already feel like I have learned a lot. I cannot wait to learn more about the families and companies that help RuffleButts grow everyday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

RuffleButts in BabyCouture Magazine


I am excited to share that RuffleButts were including in a recent photo shoot and showed up in the pages of BabyCouture Magazine! Just click on the image above to view the virtual magazine (go to page 71)! They featured our Red Woven Crawlers and coordinating Dancing Dot Peasant Top...one of my favorite outfits from our Fall 08 Collection!

It is always so fun and super rewarding to spot my baby creations in the pages of any magazine, but this one is extra special, as they always feature extremely hip and creative brands! I am always honored to share my creations through mediums such as this, as you can have the best products in the world, but if no one knows about them, it doesn't do anyone any good!

This brings me to a conversation that I had with another children products business owner this week. Everyone starts somewhere, you try a few different tactics, you think outside the box, you work with various people and organizations trying desperately to get your name out there...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I have been extremely blessed and grateful to have received the press that we have to date. Since we have now been selling for just over a year, our brand is slowly building a positive reputation and momentum. For those of you out there just starting out, please don't get discouraged...for every magazine photo shoot and online mention, we have received just as many turn-downs and last minute cancellations. I picked up a copy of a magazine (whose name I will not mention, but one I really like) just today at the OB. This particular magazine had contacted me requesting samples for a cover shoot a few months back, returned the samples, said that we would be featured, and I've never seen a photo one. I must say, this one was a disappointment, but we move on, and know that other fabulous opportunities are just around the corner!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So nice!!


Sometimes I feel so surrounded by negative...political ads, the media, the economy, angry drivers, rude customer service representatives...that I just wanted to take a minute to appreciate the positive. Last night I watched a small part of a recorded Oprah episode, and the topic was rude people. Believe me, I think we all encounter our share, but I have to say that since our big North Carolina relocation in August, I have been so pleasantly surprised by the number of incredibly nice people that have crossed my path!

Here are just a few examples:

- Went to purchase a breast pump off Craigslist.com last night - the couple was so very friendly, gave us a good deal, threw in some extras (just out of the goodness of their hearts), and then emailed me to make sure I am happy with the purchase and to tell me congrats on the baby!
- Purchased a toy bin (again off Craigslist.com), and the super sweet lady also emailed me through the RuffleButts.com website to recommend a store for our RuffleButts and took the time to post a recommendation on her county's mommy website!!
- Met a random family at a restaurant the first weekend we were here in town and she has kept in touch with me through the website to give me advice on the business...turns out she was a children's wear buyer prior to her stay-at-home-mom promotion!
- I have received a ton of emails and blog comments from other blogging mommies after posting the recent prego pic just to share their congratulations...how sweet to take time out of their day just to share a nice comment!
- Received an email from one of my incredibly supportive and considerate friends back in FL asking "what can I do to help?" totally out of the blue. Now that's a great friend!
- This is a small one, but so important...the drivers here in Charlotte actually slow down to let you in when you put on your turn signal, instead of the speed up to block you tactic that had become the norm down in SoFL!

On top of all of these random niceties, I am always so very touched by our amazingly wonderful RuffleButts customers! I receive emails from our mommy and grandmommy customers on a regular basis sharing their kind words and adorable pictures. (Check out a few on our testimonials page!) I can not tell you how motivating and rewarding that can be for a hormone-overflowing, somewhat stressed out, a little tired, business owner/soon-to-be-mommy! I know I say it over and again, but we really have the best customers in the world!

And lastly, I am extremely fortunate to share this industry with some of the most amazingly talented and driven women. I have come across numerous companies/business owners that truly act as my inspiration and support. Just chatting with some of these other entrepreneurs brings me a sense of peace knowing that we are all in this crazy world together, going through very similar experiences and dealing with many of the same issues. Although I did enjoy my time in real estate, it is such a wonderful feeling to know that there are other women out there genuinely pulling for our success and vice versa! Here are just a few that you should definitely check out if you haven't already (in no particular order)...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Prego Update

So, here I am, big and round and ready to pop!! I must say that overall I have truly loved being pregnant, but I'm sure all of you moms can relate to me here...these last few weeks have been a bit trying. Creating and growing a baby is such a miraculous event, and in the very end, the human body is just pushed a bit to accommodate this little miracle going on inside!

We are now due in about 6 weeks, but our OB doesn't know if we'll quite make it. I was already dilated 1cm at our last visit and since my contractions are increasing in frequency and some of the other signs are pointing to an early arrival, we are just leaving it in God's hands at this point. She just asked me to try to make it to 34 weeks, which I am happy to say we have done, so now starts the waiting game.

Emotionally, I am in the tug-of-war, dying to see her precious little face, while also wanting her to have as much time as needed to come out healthy and happy. I also have so much to do here at RuffleButts, I want to make sure I am prepared to give her as much attention as possible when she makes her grand entrance. It is a huge relief to have our new employees in place and my mom will be here to save the day, staying with us for the first three weeks to allow me to adjust to the work/baby schedule.

I'm sure I will provide much humor here on the RuffleBlog over these next few months, as I know I am about to take the ride of my life!! And I thought the business was a roller coaster...I can't wait to see what life has in store for me. I also appreciate ANY and all advice you moms may have for me over the first few weeks. Thanks again for all of your love and support...and stay tuned!!

By the way...not the most complimentary picture, but this is my husband's cute attempt at bumping bellies with me and matching my prego look (don't worry, he's not implying that I'm fat or anything!!!).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Forgiveness


I usually try to write about the business here on the RuffleBlog, but this week I was inspired by an Oprah episode that had been sitting on my DVR awaiting a lazy day. The episode was a tragic story of a man whose wife and son had been murdered by someone hired by his other son to kill the entire family. Needless to say, the father survived and was sharing his story on the show. The biggest thing that I took away from this tragedy is that the father, with a loving and faithful heart, was forgiving of his son. This really made me stop to think about any hurt or anger that I may hold inside and how really it is only a poison to me and no one else.

I am super fortunate that I truly have no major pain to speak of where I carry the burden on a daily basis, but even on a business level, I will use this lesson to apply to my own life. A very good example of this for me is my previous boss. He really hurt me, spoke poorly about me behind my back, stole from me, and ultimately disappointed me. I was both hurt and angry for months following that experience and it took a lot for me to find the forgiveness I needed to move forward with this business. Now, I look at that experience as my inspiration to start my own business running it completely differently, putting my ethics in front of my financial success. I have learned in life that by doing the right thing, and treating others the right way, you ultimately come out ahead. He may have seemed to have achieved that "success", but the thing was that no one really trusted him, they were all just there for financial gain. I owe him for the many lessons that will last me a lifetime.

So, back to the lesson for the week...the show was a nice reminder that anger is just poison, and forgiveness is truly a gift to the person holding the hurt, not the person that inflicted it. If that father can find forgiveness in his heart for the murder of his family, then it makes little arguments with my husband or frustrations with a business associate seem so insignificant.

I hope this story inspires you to find forgiveness for that family member or friend that may have hurt you recently. Just remember that everything in life comes full circle, and it is much better to live with forgiveness and allow the universe and God to run the way of the world.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hold on baby!!

So there was a bit of drama here in the Schaub household last week...as I went to my regular scheduled OB appointment, the doctor decided to run a few tests to check for possible signs of pre-term delivery. She sent me home with orders to take it easy (ha, ha) and to stay off my feet as much as possible, but thank goodness, no bedrest!! The next day, I awoke to some crazy unexpected side-effects including dizziness that put me on my knees and some strong contractions...a little scary! The doctor had me back in the office and decided to send me over to triage for monitoring. I probably shouldn't admit this, but after making a deal with the doc to go straight home, consume 2 jugs of Gatorade, and to stay off my feet for most of the weekend, she allowed me to skip the hospital for now. I promise, I would have gone in if I felt that there was any risk or if she felt strongly that I needed to go. But, I really didn't want to spend a night in the hospital (with family visiting from out of town for the weekend to top it off!) unnecessarily.

I am doing much better this morning, but have just accepted the fact that I will be having contractions from now until she decides to make her grand entrance. I guess this is not extremely uncommon, so I'm sure I will cope. They have informed me that she likely will not be waiting her full 6 weeks, but I guess you never really know.

The super good news is that I have hired both our Intern for the Fall term as well as our new long-term employee!! They will both be starting on Wednesday, and I am thrilled to have them. I have learned to deal with the unexpected one day at a time, and although I am not prepared for her to be here today, the thought of seeing her precious face is a wonderful one!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Interviews

This has been an exciting week here at RuffleButts, as I have been in the interview process to add to our team! I have had the privilege of meeting some incredible women here in the Charlotte area. We are adding both an Intern position as well as a Part-time Office/Sales position, which will be such a fabulous step in the business. I never realized how tough the process would be though...I find myself wanting to hire almost everybody!! They all have such fantastic qualities, just all very different. With a few more interviews early next week, I am hoping to have someone officially hired by October 1st!

With the baby coming in late November, time just seems to be flying by at this point. It's funny, it seems that the first 6 months or so go by pretty slowly...you start to feel like you've been prego forever, but now that I am into the 3rd trimester, it seems to be going by at light-speed!! Maybe it's just because I feel like I have so much to do before she gets here.

Which by the way, I have to brag about my super sweet husband...when I arrived home following my trip back home for my grandfather, I came home to find that Mark had surprised me with a painted nursery and put-together crib!! I must say that it is such a nice feeling to at least have the room painted and ready for furniture. We already have the bedding (which was a very thoughtful gift from my mom), and he even put that all together!! The room is looking a little empty at the moment, but I am working on the decor and furniture here over the next week or two.

Lastly, on a different note, I want to thank all of you that have taken the time to give me your input on our big fabric dilema. I think we are going to try a new wash on our fabric with natural enzymes in order to keep it 100% cotton, but to soften it a bit, preventing wrinkles and shriveling after being washed. It is such a tough decision, because it would be easier to just go with a poly/cotton blend, but it is important to me to try to stay 100% cotton, which is more natural and just a nicer fabric. I am trying so hard to get rid of those darn wrinkles, so maybe this is a perfect solution. We are doing some testing now and should have samples here in the next few weeks.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cookie Magazine


I happened to be over at a friend's house last night and she mentioned that she had just received her new Cookie Magazine in the mail that day...so, I turned to the back advertising section, and was super excited to see RuffleButts staring back at me!! If you are a subscriber to this really great new magazine, be sure to check out your October issue!

As a small business, it is always so difficult to make advertising decisions, as I truly never had any idea how expensive advertising can really be. Throughout this first year of sales, our advertising budget has been next to nothing, but we are now just at the point where we have received a great response to our product, and need to let more people know that we exist. I made the decision a few months back to try a run with Cookie Magazine, being that this seemed to be the best fit for our company. I would also love to advertise with babytalk or American Baby, but we simply can not afford to do so. October is our very first advertising issue with Cookie, and although we had to use old pictures since our new ones hadn't arrived by the ad deadline, I think it turned out pretty well for the 1st go around. We also ran an ad in this month's Baby Couture magazine, but I don't believe that one has hit newsstands just quite yet.

I must say that it was really exciting and tremendously rewarding to see my very own company and creations on the page of a national publication! Now if we could just get a few more sales coming in to pay for it =)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Fall Fashion Show

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE NEW RUFFLEBUTTS FALL 2008 FASHION SLIDE SHOW!


I am so excited to share our new Fall Slide Show!! As I mentioned earlier, we started working with the most fabulous photographer out in CA and I am just thrilled with this first round of photos. If you are a store owner in need of a professional photographer, I highly recommend Amanda Elkins Photography. She has managed everything for me long-distance, and I truly can not speak highly enough of my pleasant experience with her! I will write more about this experience at a later date, but in the meantime, I would love to share with you our new and improved Fall Fashion Show!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Granddaddy


These past days have been extremely emotional for me, as I just returned home from Louisville (my hometown) after five very long, difficult, yet inspirational days. I have a renewed appreciation for life, family, health, and determination.

My grandfather, known as Granddaddy to me, has been in and out of the hospital fighting a weak heart for a while now. They finally diagnosed the problem and scheduled him for surgery, but about one week before the surgery, he experienced yet another heart attack and went back into the hospital. I was on the phone daily for the past few weeks to follow his status, but after learning that this time was much more serious and that he had requested the removal of his breathing tubes, I immediately booked a flight and headed home.

I arrived early on Thursday morning and spent some very emotional time with my Granddaddy and the rest of my family, as the doctors prepared us for the most likely scenario when life support is removed. The amazing thing was, that minutes after removing these tubes, none of these expected scenarios played out. Instead my Granddaddy peacefully looked around the room, and then asked about the weather. As you can imagine, at such an intensely emotional time, this very light-hearted question brought out a round of laughter from almost every family member (nothing new for my Granddaddy!!).

The three days following were days of miracles, struggle, strength, humor, and bonding. I witnessed strength from a man that I only knew as gentle, and humor in a time of typical sorrow. I witnessed the miracles of God and the gift of family. My Granddaddy gave me the gifts of love, joy, hope, determination and acceptance. He also unknowingly gave me a swift kick in the butt to remind me of the importance of family and true priorities.

My grandfather fought an amazing battle, but ultimately his physical body is ready to rest...although I have no doubt that his spirit will go on stronger than ever! My Granddaddy was an amazing man with many, many amazing stories to tell. I only hope that I inherited one ounce of his strength!! I am grateful to God for these past days, as difficult as they were, and don't ever want to forget to take time to celebrate the many miracles of life!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Decisions, decisions

With all of the craziness lately, I have been faced with many, many decisions. Our last intern, Veronica, used to tell me that she was amazed by the number of decisions that had to be made in our business on a daily basis. Well, with all of these recent changes, there are even more!! Over the past week, I have been faced with a whole list of them...making a decision on our new intern/employee, selecting a new phone provider (since our 1st option didn't work out), accounting/IT decisions, selecting a new embroidery vendor, and looking at fabric options for our upcoming Spring 2009 line (which is where you come in)...

I need your opinions, PLEASE!!

1) How important is 100% cotton?? Although it was extremely important to me when starting this line that we use 100% cotton fabrics, I have recently considering adding some other fabric options that offer easier care. All of our current garments are machine washable, but cotton naturally crinkles when washed, and in my opinion garments never looks as good after being washed the first time. Don't get me wrong, they are still absolutely precious, but the ruffles are just more ruffled/crinkled after being washed. I am considering a change to a blended fabric that looks exactly the same after being washed as it did before. It is a little softer to the touch and has a very slight sheen. The only problem is that it is not 100% cotton. Would this affect your purchase decision, and if so in a postive or negative way??

I have also been faced with a very difficult decision lately on how to deal with our production issues. I have come to accept that there are ALWAYS production issues in this business and this time is no exception. The only difference is that it is partially out of my control. With all of the recent hurricanes in the south, our products have been delayed in transport. Our completed items are stuck at port in Miami and have been for the past week (including our now backordered pink and fuchisa bloomers), and our fabric for our next production has been delayed going out for almost the past month! I am hoping that as Ike comes and goes this week, that we are able to get back on track and get our new production going quickly. I am always amazed at how far out I can plan to prevent issues like this, but everything is still always just a bit delayed.

On a more fun note, I want to share this adorable picture with you. The gorgeous little model is Isabelli, the daughter of our new photographer, Amanda Elkins. Amanda is an incredibly talented photographer out in CA, and has done a fabulous job on our new images for the Fall Collection! Check out our brand new Fall Fashion Show with her images on the website!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting settled

Well, as expected, this past week has been absolutely insane!! I apologize that I have been so horrible about keeping you all updated, but I feel so behind on everything at the moment, the blog keeps getting pushed further and further down the list.

I thought I could pull off a quick transition, but everything is taking just a bit longer than expected (surprise, surprise). I can't figure out if I am just overly optimistic or if I just take too darn long to do anything!! Anyway, I think I am almost there and promise to post pictures later this week!

I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend and I promise to be back soon with more RuffleButts drama =)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekend packing!

So, it is actually happening...after all of this preparation, the office is now 95% packed up and ready to go. I will be in the office all day today trying to wrap up all last minute business and then Charlotte here we come!

I must say, as a pretty independent person, I was not prepared for the physical limitations of pregnancy. I thought I could suck it up and pull it off, but after a very long day on Saturday, my wonderful husband had to step in and force me to sit at my desk most of the day on Sunday. He literally packed up my entire office pretty much on his own...major points for him, although he kinda needed those points this week =)

So, this is the state of the RuffleButts headquarters at this moment (it's a little sad and empty), but we are looking forward to getting our new offices all set up and beautified by early next week.

I also had to throw in this highly embarrassing picture that my husband surprisingly snapped last weekend when he caught me in bed having a very prego moment with my Dunkin Dounuts!! Fortunately, for me, the picture turned out a little blurry, but still a good laugh! You also have to notice my little jealous one in the lower left corner...isn't she cute!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Changing the World

Yesterday, my DVR recorded an old rerun of the Oprah show, so to clear my mind late last night, I watched just a piece of it. I had seen this episode when it ran originally, but it was a nice refresher to see this particular episode again, as it was all about changing the world.

The one story that happened to be the small part that I watched, was about this woman who searched for her calling and found it in an amazing project reaching out to children across our country. Her story sounded so familiar to me in the beginning...she was working a career, climbing the corporate ladder like the rest of her friends, when she just knew that she was supposed to be doing something different. She searched for the answer, asking daily for her direction, until one day she had her (what I tend to call) "light-bulb moment" and the words "pajama project" just came to her. She has since then collected and distributed 100's of thousands of pajamas to children in this country. I was deeply affected to find out that many of these children didn't even know what "sleeping clothes" were since they had always slept in their regular clothes, what few they did have.

This story was a nice reminder to me that we all have a calling, but sometimes it takes much searching to figure out exactly what that may be. When I knew deep down that I was not in my right place, I made a commitment to pray daily, for just a few minutes, but daily, asking for my answer. I made a promise to God that if he would just tell me what it was that I was supposed to be doing, that I would commit everything, give it my all, and reach out to others along the way. I feel tremendously blessed that I have this opportunity to do that in a very small way. I hope to grow this company, and touch the lives of millions, through our charitable giving, as well as taking others with me on this amazing journey!

If you are still on this search, I urge you to spend a little time every day asking for your guidance. Think outside the box, and I promise if you put others needs at the top of your list, you will be amazed at how it all comes full circle! I know that I don't do this as well as I could, but I am still growing, and remind myself daily to focus on what is truly important and allow the rest to work itself out.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brilliant Blog Award

Yea!! Officially, my very first award with RuffleButts, okay, it's really a RuffleBlog award, but I'll take what I can get =)

Thank you so much Corline for your support and recognition of the RuffleBlog! Corline has a fabulously fun blog over at The Mommy and Me Boutique sharing her wonderful designs and daily tidbits. I am so inspired by her story, and love her unique creations (especially the funky aprons!!).

I am honored to pass along this award to a few other much deserving women...

1) Chic Shopper Chick - This is a recent discovery for me, but such a great site for moms by a mom! She is always featuring tons of great products and fabulous giveaways!! We all love free!!

2) The Domestic Diva - Lisa is not only super talented, but she is also amazingly supportive and encouraging of others.

3) JPD Mom - Jamie has been super inspirational to me in the startup of my business. She is way ahead of me on this entrepreneurial path and she takes the time to share her wisdom and lessons learned, which is a rarity in this business!

4) Babyations - Jennifer is the talent behind the bows available at RuffleButts. She is the mother of 4, and somehow still finds the time to run her business and share some family fun on her blogs!

5) Growing Your Baby - This is a fun site for parenting news, great giveaways, and product reviews.

6) Notions - Written by Allison of Hand Picked Pumpkin...this line is so great, totally unique (you actually get to pick your fabrics!!), and the blog provides a little inspiration along the way!

7) Baby Fabulous - This is another great children's line, and Amber (another Amber) has done a fabulous job chronicling her entrepreneurial adventure on this blog! She is another one that takes time out of her day to share her lessons and advice with other women pursing a dream.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Free advertising contest

As you know, I am always looking for new and affordable ways to share the word about our company. I have found that some blog advertising works for us, depending on the traffic and the audience. The tough part is spending the money upfront to figure out which ones actually produce traffic for our website, so this contest is the perfect opportunity! When I came across this info, I just had to share it with you other business owners/bloggers out there that may also find it beneficial.

The prize? A 125x125 pixel ad spot (above the fold) on at least TEN DIFFERENT BLOGS that will run for one month. That's at least a $100 value! Who is co-hosting?

How do you enter to win?

1 Entry - Subscribe to any one of the blogs above via email.

10 Entries - Write a post about the contest (must include links to all 10 hosts OR use the suggested text)

25 Entries - Offer up an ad spot on your own blog for one month as part of the prize package

Good luck to you all!!

Big Move!!


I am super excited to finally share with you that we are MOVING!!! With everything going on in the business, we have tried to get things in place prior to the announcement, so I will be sending out the official word to our newsletter subscribers this week! So, both our business and our family will soon be making the move from South Florida to Charlotte, NC. Although, we have enjoyed our time here in the Sunshine State, as a southern girl from Kentucky, I am really looking forward to our move to NC!

I am in the process of putting together a new team now, with multiple interviews set up for our first week in the new office. I am really excited to meet some of the fantastic candidates that I have spoken with so far, and to get things back up and running full steam ahead! The logistics with the business will continue to work pretty much the same, with a few small tweaks in shipping destinations. Unfortunately, I will have to close down the offices next week through Labor Day to get everything packed up and moved in to the new place, but will still be available by email throughout most of the time. We have to temporarily delay shipping order beginning Saturday, August 23rd, and will ship and and all orders on September 2nd. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience!

As you can imagine, my big prego belly has slowed me down just a bit with the whole packing experience, but I am so grateful to my wonderful husband and family for all of their help and support!

Life can be crazy, with incredible days, challenging days, curve balls, and milestones met. I just want you all to know, that even with my recent whining, I absolutely love what I do and am so incredibly appreciative for this chance to do it. And the fact that I have "met" so many other amazing women through this blog and this business is just one more blessing in my life!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Baby Bling Things Boutique

Here at RuffleButts, our fabulous retailers are an important part of our family. Therefore, I have decided to feature a different RuffleButts Retailer on a regular basis here at the RuffleBlog. I am honored to start with Ann over at Baby Bling Things Boutique. Ann is not only an extremely talented business owner, but also an absolute pleasure of a person to work with! Be sure to check out here entire line of embellished, blinging baby products.

Store name: Baby Bling Things Boutique

Store Owner: Ann Spross


Store location & contact info:
www.babyblingthingsboutique.com
email: blingthings4baby@yahoo.com

Open since: 2006

What is the story behind your store?
I didn't realize this little love would turn into the business it has. I started selling on ebay for fun, really not expecting anything. The response I received from my products took me by surprise to say the least. I didn't realize there was such a big market for baby bling products. As time went on and my ebay customer base grew, I decided to open my own store to see where that would take me. It went so well that I now sell to many high end online and retail boutiques across the country and a handful of international retail boutiques. I honestly feel so lucky and blessed to be where I am today. I love doing what I do. Even though it is my job, it really is my hobby first and foremost. I feel lucky that my love of creating bling things is what I can do for a full time job and it also will allow me to stay home with my baby, which is something that is important to me.

What was your inspiration to start your business?
I have many nieces who I love making unique custom creations for. At the time I started making my items, there weren't many boutiques or stores carrying custom baby bling. And the places I did stumble across were so overpriced. I wanted to create a place that carried upscale unique baby bling creations at a more affordable price.

What are some of your favorite products available at your store?
The Swarovski diaper wipe cases are by far my favorite product. Each one is custom designed making it a new experience and design every time. They are very time consuming to make and the feeling I get when they are completed is of quite an accomplishment.

What is your favorite RuffleButts style?
It really is to pick just one style, but I love the pink retro rufflebutts line!

Do you have a RuffleButts story (customer reactions, best selling products, etc)?
I am very new to selling the rufflebutts but have already received a very warm response from my customers. I am very happy I am able to offer such a cute baby line at my store!

What is life like for you as a children's boutique owner?
My life has been very busy since opening my store. I am very passionate about my work. Each item that I custom make is a new experience. I enjoy meeting new people and making my customers happy. But I try to balance all my work so I have time to spend with my family and friends.

What is your favorite part about your business?
My absolute favorite part is seeing babies/children using/wearing my products! I can never get enough of the pictures and Iʼm glad people love sending them. I also love meeting so many people from many parts of the world.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What drives you?

Over these past few days, as I have found myself a little more physically exhausted than usual, I have struggled just a bit with burnout. I absolutely love what I do and wouldn't choose anything different, but sometimes when I'm tired, I find myself a little burned out. This is nothing new to my personality - I have dealt with burnout in almost all of my past careers, but this one is obviously so much more important to me. So, this brought me to the question...what drives me? What pushes me to want to do better, to do more? I am a pretty self-motivated type of individual, but sometimes I just need to remind myself of why I do what I do.

So, back to the question, what drives me?

1) My faith - I owe it to God to make the most of my time on this planet
2) My husband - he always challenges me to do more and better than what I think I can do
3) My family - from a very early age, my need to make my family proud has always pushed me beyond the average
4) My future little addition - of course, I want to create a career that not only supports my family, but also makes her proud of her mommy
5) Other amazing women - I am constantly amazed by so many other incredible women out there pursuing their own dreams
6) All of the encouraging comments and emails that I receive through this blog and on the RuffleButts website, which remind me that there are other people out there touched by what I am doing.

So, what drives/inspires you?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Speaking of sleepy...


So I try not to whine too very often on this blog, but if I am just being real...I am so tired!!! I am sleeping a little better lately, although I'm not sure if it's because I am totally exhausted, or because I am getting a little more used to a little dancer living in my belly! Sometimes I have to remind myself that it is okay to be worn down, I am about 26 weeks pregnant, add in running a business and all of the other things going on in my life, and that can be a bit tiring at times. I still am baffled how mompreneurs do it, but I will soon find out!!

There is a lot going on here at RuffleButts this week, as we just placed another production order to catch up on some of our super-quick selling styles, we are working on our first few advertising placements, we're sending out some of our Fall orders to retailers and working feverishly to get in our last Fall style so we can announce and launch the new styles online as well! I am also super excited to say that we are working with Amanda Elkins to do a photo shoot with our new collection. I love her work and can not wait to see what she is able to do with our creations! She is hoping to get some photos back to me next week, so I'll be sure to share those with you here.

The good news is that the business is going well, I am happy & healthy, and learning to balance two of the biggest blessings ever...a little angel soon to join the world, and my pre-baby, baby, RuffleButts!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sleepy Wrap Giveaway

I am always the frugal one, and I love anything for FREE, so I thought I would pass along this fun giveaway on MommyMandy.com...




Want to win a Sleepy Wrap? Then head on over to mommymandy.com for your chance to win one these great wraps. The winner will be able to pick the color they like. Babywearing is a great way to bond with your baby and I would love to be entered to win! You can enter HERE! This giveaway will end on Aug 15th

Good luck on your entry!

More manufacturing challenges

As things have been going really well with the business - we have been so fortunate to receive some fabulous PR and reviews, sales have picked up, and the majority of our new Fall styles have arrived. Unfortunately, yet again, we are facing problems with our manufacturing. The positive is that our quality has improved with the ongoing meetings, a visit to the factory, and the fact that our sewers now know our annual styles inside and out. The negative is that they did not make our new Fall styles exactly to specs, so my designs have been slightly altered, and they are now more than a month late delivering our final Fall style. The design alterations are probably not things that anyone else would notice, but as a designer, it is super frustrating! If only I could be at the factory on a consistent basis to correct these problems as they were being made, it would be so much better, but as a business owner, that just isn't possible. That is why our factory is supposed to hire someone to do just that...they are called quality control!! Unfortunately, our factory doesn't seem to get that concept and it makes me completely insane!

I know that there are millions of apparel companies out there so much bigger than ours, so it can be done, correctly, I am just still trying to figure out how. Don't get me wrong, we have had vast improvements over the past year. When I become a little overwhelmed now, I remind myself of the massive challenges we faced with manufacturing in the beginning. I am not a quitter, and I nearly gave up at that point! These issues are all minor in comparison, but the problem is that we are so much bigger and busier at this point in the business, that I do not have the time or the patience to deal with more manufacturing issues, especially when our factory has had SO many opportunities to get it right.

In this business, manufacturing, like it or not, is just a hugely important aspect of the whole picture. I have spoken with other designers in a similar situation and the big delima is this...do you go out and find a new manufacturer and start over with the risks of facing similar or even worse problems, or do you continue to work through the issues and improve the situation with your current manufacturer? Up to this point we have made the decision to build our relationship with our current manufacturer and this has resulted in improvement, but as we continue to grow, the time will come when we must decide if our manufacturer is willing and able to maintain the quality necessary to grow with us.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Getting the baby shopping bug...

So, usually I am entirely too busy to even think about shopping for our own little one on the way, since I am so busy working on encouraging others to shop (at RuffleButts, of course!) for their own. But, as the date is drawing near, and we've had two friends deliver early (6 weeks and 2 months!) within the past two weeks, I guess it gave me the bug. Or, as my husband likes to say...my "nesting instinct" is starting to kick in!
We took care of the registering thing a few weeks back, but haven't done any shopping other than picking up a used crib and stroller/car seat that kinda fell in our laps. The stroller and car seat pretty much came free with the crib, but I am so not in love with the fabric. So, yesterday, as I was working on some marketing for RuffleButts, I came across this company that makes the most adorable carseat covers and I just had to share them with you. The company is called Ritzy Baby, and the Owner Bridget seems like a total sweetheart! Although we are having a girl, I am usually not super over the top with the whole girly thing. I know that sounds funny, since I design a line of apparel all about the ruffles, but what I mean is that I like more the "hip girly" thing as opposed to lace and patchwork girly. Well, with this collection there is something for everyone...girly, not so girly, and everything in between. I am a little torn, since the price is about that of a new car seat, but so much cuter!

And, I need your help here...are you a mom that has some advice for a first-timer? Is there a product that you just can't live without? I would love to know! There is so much out there, and of course I have my favorites from being in the business...but have no idea where to start when it comes to the products needed for daily life. I would greatly appreciate any comments with recommendations, as I think it is time to get a shopping!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Business decisions

My husband and I were talking the other night and I asked him if he ever imagined that the business would be where we are today. His answer (which is not surprising in the least if you know my husband), was "I thought we would be further". My mouth was hanging open, but then I realized what he really meant.

When I started this business last year, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that I was super determined to make it work, and with that determination, I could figure it all out. Looking back, my naiveness was probably a very good thing, because had I known what I was about to face, I probably would have been too intimidated to take the leap. Since then, I have learned so much and come so far. I find myself blown away by what I can accomplish when I need to! The great thing is, I am not unlike any of you! I think we are all capable of so much, but it is when we are pushed beyond what we are comfortable doing, that we are able to soar.

When my husband made that comment, what he really meant was that he thought this would all be easier - that we would design a little baby bloomer, find someone to make it and sell the heck out of it. We weren't really prepared for the challenges that we have faced with the manufacturer, sourcing, sales reps, accounting, etc. When running a business, there is so much to know and always something to learn. This is part of the reason that I love it! There is not a day that goes by that I am not challenged in some way, and that means that I am growing in some way, daily.

If you are considering starting your own business or even just getting started in your own business, be prepared that it will not be all easy going. The more you are challenged, the more you're growing and the better prepared you will be to run and grow your business. Dig deep and make sure that you have that determination to get you through the tough days along with all of the fun ones.

As much as I know my determination and ambition, I never would have imagined us here today. I am so very blessed and know that I could not have done this without the most important factor, and that is faith! I will continue to focus on this business, growing and learning, and can't wait to see where we are in another year!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Husband of the Year!

Wow, what a week! I just feel so blessed right now...and very tired =)

So, my husband and I have been married for four years. Actually, the 24th was our anniversary, but embarassingly enough, we've both been so busy this month, that neither one of us remembered! The past four years have been a whirlwind for us...we've moved 4 times, soon to be 5, have lived in three states, have started businesses, sold businesses, renovated two homes, moved for jobs, and of course, started RuffleButts! We are a couple just like any other marriage...we adore each other, but definitely have our days. If only you knew us well, we are actually two pretty strong personalities, and would make for a very entertaining reality show!! Well, this month, my husband has earned enough bonus points to last him quite a while. He has redesigned our website, helped me with ads, newsletters, pictures, business issues, and everything else you can imagine. And last night, he stayed with me at the office till 10:30pm packing orders!!

Yesterday was a blast!! Don't get me wrong, it was one long day (and night), but it was so much fun to see such a positive reaction to my creations from moms all across the country! The Daily Candy article was such a joy and introduced our products to so many moms that were out there searching for the ruffles!!

So, I am officially nominating my husband for the Husband of the Year Award!! I truly could not have created, and more importantly kept up with, this business without all of his support. Sounds corny, I know, but there are times that just call for some corny appreciation!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Daily Candy Kids!!


Wow, what a week! I must say this is one of those days that I am on a total rush and enjoying every minute of this business. I am also counting my blessings every chance I get!!

I mentioned a few months back in a seperate blog post about this super sweet girl that I met that was a new mom and also in the fashion industry. She is a writer, tv host, mom...you name, she does it all! She found RuffleButts online while shopping for her little angel, but then heard about our company through an Associate of her husband's. Anyway, she was so sweet and asked to write about RuffleButts for Daily Candy Kids!!! Yes, you read that correctly, she is a writer and editor for Daily Candy Kids! I could not be more grateful to her, as our article just came out this morning and you can not wipe this smile off my face!

I have said all along that I have 100% faith in our products and moms write me all of the time to tell me how happy they were to find us, but it just takes time to let moms know about this fun new brand without having the financial $s of a big-name corporation to advertise to them. That's where fabulous publications such as Daily Candy Kids and babytalk Magazine come in. They have access to these awesome moms that are excited to learn that there really are fun and feminine products out there for their little girls! And for those of us that grew up in the little ruffled diaper covers...they are back to stay!

So, to make a long story short...I am thrilled to share our so well-written write-up on Daily Candy Kids. Be sure to check it out for yourself!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New homepage!!

My hubby has been hard at work again with his creative and crazy-brain talents! I am so excited to launch our new homepage at http://www.rufflebutts.com/. It is still the same website everyone is used to, but we have changed up the main page a bit to give us a little face-lift.
When running this business, there are always so many things on the to-do list, it is tasks like these that continue to get pushed down the priority list. My husband has been so great working till midnight after work every night to try to help me. I think he did a great job and I am happy to share it with all of our customers!

We also spent part of our day working on our very first print ad!! This is a super big deal for me, as this is a huge step for our business and the biggest financial commitment to marketing that I have ever made. There comes a point in a business when you have to spend money to make money and although we are so very fortunate to receive regular editorial and reviews, which is so greatly appreciated, I am commited to this brand and have to take the next steps to continue our amazing growth!

Fun photo shoot

I always have such fun when it is time for a RuffleButts photo shoot. This one was quick and easy, as we only had a few new styles that needed pics, but taking time out of the office and seeing our creations on this sweet little angel (named Connie) is such a nice reminder of why I do what I do! I also sent out a little email notification to all of our newsletter subscribers, so they would be the very first to know about these 2 new limited edition tees. Check out the sweet pictures below:









Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Contest! Prize Package worth OVER $2000.00 - Moms United In Business



Contest Deadline: Friday August 15, 2008 11:59pm EST. Winner will be chosen via random drawing and announced Monday August 18, 2008. Prizes have been generously donated by members of Moms United in Business.

For my fellow moms in business, this is a great opportunity to win a ton of cool prizes, including FREE ADVERTISING! I was not extremely familiar with this organization, but after reading the short description below, I have to say, I love what they are doing!

"We are not merely a business community, promoting women and their businesses. We are an organization of motivated and energetic women offering inspiration and support not only as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, and/or friend, but as a woman in your own right!

We believe that by following our own dreams, listening to the whispers of our hearts and by nurturing ourselves we are then able to give more abundantly to our families and our businesses.

We are dedicated to supporting you as both a Mom and a Business Professional. As we all know, the key to a successful business is networking and to a successful life is balance!"

Monday, July 28, 2008

My RuffleButts Experience

Ruffle Intern V:

"The best changes often start as a single, simple thought. Think big, and discover the ways to make your dreams real."--Hearts and Minds: Information for change

This is one of the major ideas I have discovered over the course of my internship here at RuffleButts. I feel as though nothing is more applicable to how this business got started; but I also feel that it is an ideal that we can all share and adapt as our own mottos in our everyday lives.

Working at RuffleButts this past summer has been an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience. I am happy to say that my first major occupational endevour has been a complete sucess in my eyes and as a bonus, filled with some really great people. I have learned a lot about myself over these past three months and discovered that I can push myself outside of whatever pre-established comfort zones I might have and pursue different aspects of my field and business in general that I normally would not have attempted or looked into. Let me tell ya, it feels really good to tackle something that use to make you uneasy. I have grown a lot through my trials and pursuits at RuffleButts and I have definitely come out of this experience a more occupationally confident and independent person.

I can't express how much I appreciate all of Amber's guidence and support in my position this summer. I never imagined I would be able to work so close with a designer who is so willing to share every aspect of the business. The extremely personal experience of my internship made this decision all the more fulfilling and beneficial. I have to thank Amber for all of the opportunities she has given me this summer included mass producing my apparel designs and allowing me to try my hand at several different creative endevours. She has also shown me the nitty gritty aspects of running a business and all which that entails--something I could not have possibly gained from a classroom or a studio. However, one of the most inspiring things she has shown me is what an incredible amount of determination and passion one must have to run a business (especially in the fashion industry!), qualities which I am anxious to display in my own independent business endevours.

Before I finish up my final RuffleButts Intern posting, I would just like to say what a pleasure it has been to work with all of our customers. You guys are wonderful and all of your positive comments and support are a major part of what makes working here so rewarding, and reminds me of why going into children's apparel was a step in the right direction. Thank you.

-V

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Nana update

I try to use the blog as an inspirational tool for the business, but today, I am cheating, so please excuse the big belly pictures! Since my husband and I currently reside in South Florida, we are many, many miles away from all of our family and many friends. As this is the first grandbaby for my mom, now officially "Nana", I'm sure you can understand how excited she's been through this whole prego process! My mom is not only a incredibly supportive mom, but also my best friend, and I am thrilled to share this experience with her. So, mom, here's your promised pic...I am getting rounder by the day!

Our little "RuffleButt" is a mini-acrobat and it is so fun to watch her grow so much at this stage. Although we are super busy with the business right now, Mark and I finally took some time this weekend to go check out some needed baby products. It is such a funny feeling walking through the store with our little registry gun, realizing that we really have NO idea what we are doing as 1st-time parents!! There are so many products out there, I am really depending on my mommy friends to guide me in the right direction.

I also have to take this time to thank all of my super supportive fellow-mommy business owners. Your warm wishes, emails of support, and baby gifts are incredibly appreciated! I am so excited to deck out our little "RuffleButt" in so many of my favorite small-business brands. And you better believe I will be promoting the heck out of your businesses to all of my new mommy friends! I couldn't ask to be a part of a more supportive group of women...you are all fabulous!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Up and down

Any mom, grandma, business owner, or really any person can relate to me here...but sometimes I am just plain worn out! As women, we sometimes have the natural tendency to look at others and wonder how in the world they hold it all together. We compare ourselves, and resurrect that nasty little emotion called guilt. I keep in touch with a few other business owners and one of them yesterday just kept telling me how she was a bit overwhelmed by this whole business thing. I can totally relate to her and told her that I understand, but she will get through this and is definitely not alone!

Well, today, I need that pep-talk of my own. Please don't get me wrong, I totally love what I do and feel enormously blessed to have this opportunity, but today, I am just tired. I have decided that our little angel-to-come is a future gymnast, or karate champ, or something else crazy active!! She has a little pattern of getting a little wild and crazy around 5:00 in the evening and it continues all night long! Last night, after a 12 hour day at the office, I was just so darn exhausted, I slept through most of it, but I can't say that for the night prior.


Okay, I am almost done with my whining, I promise!! So today, I am finalizing those big decisions that I mentioned earlier this week and dealing with more production delays (I am learning that production delays are just a requirement to be in this business!). The delays don't affect any of our customers (yet), since I planned so far in advance - learned my lesson last season, but it is still a big headache and keeps me up at night! I am so glad today is Friday, as it is a welcomed break this week. I have been so excited about the business lately, and I definitely am still on that up, but I just need a little rest to keep me going.

See, you are not alone!! We all have our days. I used to feel extremely guilty about them, but I am starting to accept the fact that I am human and just have days a little less up than others.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Share a Smile Day!

I wasn't sleeping well last night and found myself with a million thoughts...new designs for RuffleButts, conversations that I needed to have with vendors, registering for the baby, and then the thought crossed my mind...what I have I done to share a smile lately? This is always a number one priority for me personally and with this business, but sometimes I find myself so caught up in my daily life, I forget to take a minute for someone else.

So, today my goal is to share a smile. I am also going to call the local Starlight Starbright Organization to plan a day for RuffleButts to volunteer our time.

This is your little reminder to think of something small that you can do today to share a smile with someone in your world. Maybe making a call to schedule your own volunteer project. Or possibly you have a mommy friend in despirate need of a little help. Maybe a phone call to your grandmother/grandfather would totally make their day (oh, I need to add that to my list too!).

I also have to take this moment to thank those of you that take the time to comment here at the RuffleBlog. I know sometimes it can be impersonal when you type in your comment and don't receive a reply, but I want you to know that every one of your little comments, words of encouragement and input, always puts a smile on my face. It is just nice to know that someone out there cares about what I have to say....so, thank you!