Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Talent

Last week, I was asked to do a small "interview" with a Barry University student as part of an assignment. I happily agreed, remembering my college days and that very same "interview assignment". The student had been in the business class that I visited a few weeks prior to share my story and had a few more questions for me. I could tell she was a bit nervous a first, but we quickly got into a good conversation.

This morning I turned on my computer to a very sweet email from this student. I wanted to share her words as a motivation for any of you other business owners/entrepreneurs out there that may not realize the power of inspiration that comes with our challenging career of choice.

"Hi Amber! I know its been a week since our interview, but I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to meet with me. Beside the fact that I didn't know what questions to ask, I learned a lot. You have inspired me to never give up. You have shown me that anything is possible, if you put your time and dedication into something you really want, it can happen. I have attached my resume just in case you or someone you know are in need for an intern or employee. Again thank you so much for everything. ~Glendy Perez"

This email also reminded me that I have received the resume of many talented young people over the past few months. If anyone is looking for new talent, please feel free to contact me. I would love to pass along their information and share this talent that I am too broke to afford at the moment =)

I am also grateful to Glendy, because that email is just what I needed to get back to the point and focus on what I am trying to accomplish here.

On a side note - I have to extend a sincere thank you to Jamie Lentzner of Jamie's Painting & Design. She is a very busy & successful business owner, who is a few years ahead of me in this whole entrepreneurship thing. Not only does she take the time to keep up with what I am doing, she offers her advice and most importantly her encouragement. Jamie, you are an inspiration to me, and I hope to pass that along as I continue to grow. Check out Jamie's blog at and her awesome products (like the name plaque shown to the left) on her website at

Monday, February 25, 2008

No Cinderella Story

I like to consider myself a pretty optimistic, positive person. I try to stay strong in my faith and focused on the wonderful things in my life. With that said, I'm still human, and I think we all face challenges at times. Since childhood, I have always found myself putting on the happy face when those times come, mainly to avoid bringing others down with me. I have found it challenging to share my true emotions on this blog. I love to share the positive and happy times through this entrepreneurial experience, but it is not near as much fun to share the challenging times. Well, I always pride myself on honesty, so here I go...

This has been a bit of a rough weekend for me. It is now 7:30am on Monday morning - I am here at the office - have been since about 6:15am. I made the decision to take the weekend off, completely off, not coming in to the office once. I did sneak and check my Blackberry every couple of hours, but you other business owners understand me here, that it is less stressful to know that everything is still under control than to avoid checking email all weekend. You would think that this would have contributed to a nice weekend, but I found myself in a bit of a slump. I am just a little burned out. I am thrilled to be able to pursue a dream, and I want so badly for this to be successful, but some days it gets a little tough emotionally.

On top of this slight burnout, I had a rough weekend personally. I try so hard to separate myself, but when you make the decision to start your own business, you have to realize that everything begins to blur together. Life is business, business is your life, and everything else just gets mixed in. When I am struggling on a personal level, this sometimes bleeds into the business and vice-versa.

I share this personal struggle not for sympathy or even for venting purposes, but mostly to share the true story of my business venture. When I am talking to students or others dreaming of pursuing a business, I try to share my honest and open story. It is not a Cinderella story and far from a fairy tale most days, but I am still incredibly grateful that I have this opportunity. I am also so very touched by the support and encouragement that I receive from you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Help has arrived

I am very excited to say that I have hired our first official RuffleButts intern!!! Her name is Kristen and she is awesome! Only 19 years old, she is super ambitious and hard working. She is currently in her 2nd year of schooling at the Art Institute here in Ft. Lauderdale, working towards her Bachelor degree in Fashion Design. After receiving an email from her over a week before our interviews, I had a gut feeling that she was going to be a perfect fit.

I am thrilled to have her on board, as I think she has a ton of potential and creativity to contribute. I am also thrilled to be able to offer this experience to someone of her driven attitude. I would have given anything to see what happens behind the scenes of a start-up apparel company when I was in college, so I am hoping that this is a full-circle kind of experience.

Kristen will be documenting her experience here on the RuffleBlog every Thursday, so be sure to check back often. I'm sure she will have some fun stories to tell!!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

That little push...

It's always funny, what lights your fire...for some it's financial reward, for others it's praise. I have always been motivated by a combination of appreciation and results. Today, I was asked by a Barry University student to do a little interview as an assignment for her business class. During this interview, she asked me what my typical day was made of. My answer was not all that glamorous...packing orders, replying to emails, ordering fabric, running to and from the embroiderer or know, the fun tasks of any entrepreneur with no employees!! Well, at the end of my day, as I was doing these everyday tasks and putting out fires, I received an email from a customer (see below).

"You have such an adorable company and brand identity! I love the concept. I work in branding at Microsoft and love to look at the world for great creative ideas, and what you have done is exceptional. I would love to know how your company came to be."

Let me just tell you, this totally made my day! This is the appreciation that drives me, that makes what I do so incredibly rewarding. The fact that I am contributing a fun product to the marketplace that other people enjoy, gives me so much joy! These are the small steps that I will hopefully look back on one day when I have a company that touches not just hundreds, or even thousands, but millions of people in a positive way.

On that note, don't you just love people that take the time out of their day to share kind words with a total stranger?? I must say that I surely do!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lots of smiles shared!

I must say that I am not surprised in the least...our RuffleButts fans are the best! I am so blessed to be able to work with the most amazing retailers and customers. I sent out a call for smiles this week with our "Share the Smiles" Project and you all answered with some amazing stories to share!

Amanda Berntson is a student at Barry University and she sent in this story:

"Once a year, a day goes by that is for couples and special someones, Valentines Day. My parents got divorced when I was about 4 years old, and since then my Mom never really has had a definite valentine. So every year I have been my Mom's. Even though this day isn't exactly a relevant holiday, I always like to make it special for her so every year I do something different, whether it be simple special card telling her how grateful I am for her to be in my life or a small gift card for her to buy something new for herself. Every year when I was little and even up through high school and today she would always surprise me with a Valentine's Day gift, and I have always felt that she deserves one more than I. So this year I sent her a beautiful card, with a special heart box of Ghirardelli Square Dark Chocolates, which will probably last her a year. I love doing this for her because she deserves something special, and someone special more than anyone else I know and I know that one day someone deserving of her will take my place, but she will always be my special Valentine."

I can totally relate to Amanda's story, as I was also raised by a single-mom that always put me ahead of herself. This is such a sweet story of a grateful daughter, giving back a smile to a mom that I'm sure gave her so many through the years!

Jennifer Prather, a good friend and RuffleButt Representative wrote in:
"I was a host for a progressive dinner for some college kids last night. We had about 24 Lincoln Christian College kids sign up to come. (who would want to pass up good, free food right?!!!) Anyway, I was a host house and had two sets of the kids in. the first set was for soup and salad. Then the second set was for the main course. It was a lot of fun, plus they really appreciated the idea and thoughtfulness of the community coming together for them!!"

Jennifer is always doing things for others. This story is an inspiration to take time out of our busy schedules to share our joy with others!

One of our favorite Australian retailers, Sally at Fairy Kisses, shared this story:

I told a widowed husband whose son is my son's friend this story on Tuesday, and it made him laugh harder than I have heard him laugh before:
My 7 year old came and asked me when he would be old enough to shave. My husband has a beard, so I was not too surprised. I said "Shave like Daddy? Not until you are about 18." He said "Ha, ha, Mum", in a voice like I was making some lame joke, then "I mean when will I be old enough to shave my legs like you do." The innocence of children is just beautiful isn't it!

I say it everyday, but I couldn't have picked a better clientele...incredible moms and innocent children!

My mom, who is obviously such a huge inspiration to me was on a roll after receiving her "Share the Smile" announcement:
"After receiving my "Share the Smiles" email, I decided to take a few minutes to make some phone calls to loved ones that may not get as much attention as they deserve. My first phone call was to a friend in an assisted living facility. She is so loving, but doesn't get many visitors, so is very lonely at times. I then made a quick call to my father-in-law in Kentucky and Dad down in Florida. The great thing about this project is that it always comes full-circle. I made these calls to brighten their day, but really it came right back to me. Smiles are contagious!"

What can I say, I am one proud daughter!!

Okay, for my story...I figured that if I was asking for your time to contribute to this project, that my goal should be one smile a day! This was even easier than I expected, so I'll just share a couple of the stories! My first 5 minutes went to my Aunt Pat down in Birmingham, AL. My Aunt is one of the most incredibly strong women I have ever met, and God has definitely given her a workout for this strength! Although my Aunt has a lot on her plate at the moment, she has taken a tremendous amount of time out of her schedule lately to support a friend in need. I took a few minutes to send up an extra little prayer for my Aunt and her friend and then made a quick phone call to send my love.

My next story I have to keep somewhat vague because the gift has not yet arrived...I have many incredibly supportive friends, but I have one special friend that has been a very big help to me and this business. I was working from my home office up until December of last year, which was a bit straining on me personally as well as my family. This friend offered to "rent" me space in his office and opened his doors to me like I was one of the family. Not only has he never once given me a "rent bill", he has allowed me to take over the office with boxes and meetings and everything else! I took a few minutes out of my day to order a small gift to say thank you!

These small acts of kindness are not monumental, nor do they take an incredible amount of effort. This is just a little reminder that sharing a smile with someone in your life is an easy task that can make a very big difference. If you have a story to share, please post a comment below. Thank you so much to those that took the time to share your stories - I'm sure your effort will inspire others to keep sharing the smiles! Have a great week!

Friday, February 8, 2008


So, when you start a business, you can never really imagine all of the things that will make up your day. When someone asks me my role or title at the business, of course I have the "glamorous" official title of Owner and Founder, but what I really should say is Sales Rep, Director of Operations, Customer Service, Accountant, Janitor, Stock-girl...the list could go on forever. This week was the usual - packing orders, going through our inventory from the manufacturing debacle, meeting with new Patternmakers & Sample-makers, researching fabric, but there was a little twist...this week I was in the spot-light more than ever. I have said before that I am a little uncomfortable in this position, but I must admit that it was slightly invigorating to be so outside of my comfort zone.

On Wednesday, I spoke in front of a group of business students at Barry University about my RuffleButts experience. I wanted students to hear the real-life story of entrepreneurship - the good, the bad and the ugly. I love the "Big Idea" show, but so often I feel like these business owners share the Cinderella side of their story and leave out the "I almost jumped off the bridge" beginnings. I am still very new at this whole thing, but I wanted them to know that if they are willing to work hard enough and dream big enough, that they can do anything. Okay, I am starting to feel a little corny, but really, I mean this from the bottom of my heart. I also must say that I was extremely impressed with the students at this college. Embarassingly enough, I don't remember being such an attentive, polite invidual back in my college days...hopefully I was. I usually don't enjoy public speaking in the least, but I can honestly say that I had a very nice time.

Yesterday, I was seriously in the "spotlight" - about 10 of them literally, on the set of "Focus on South Florida" down at the CBS studios in Miami. I must say that since moving to Fort Lauderdale, I really hadn't set into one news station, but I am now the biggest fan of CBS4! This is not just because this station has supported me and my dream (although that is definitely major points!!) but also because I honestly have not met nicer people, from the Reporters to the Camera guys, to the Production guys who brought it all together! Of course, as I wrote last week, Jade Alexander, the reporter who came out to interview us, was just such a doll, as was the Camera Man that shot the spot. Jade was so sweet and supportive, I was blown away. Yesterday, I met Erika von Tiehl, as she invited me to be a part of the "Focus on South Florida" show set to air this Sunday. I don't know what I really expected from people in the news business, but I have to say that I was just so touched by the sincerity of these two women. Erika is obviously young and ambitious, but she also seems to be such a down-to-earth, genuine person. These are definitely two deservingly successful women that I will watch loyally from now on.

If you live here in South Florida, tune in this Sunday to "Focus on South Florida" on My33 in Miami at 2:30pm or on The CW in West Palm Beach at 7:00am .

Monday, February 4, 2008

Share the Smiles

Okay, if you are busy and don't have time to read much this hectic Monday morning, please take a minute to read this one. I have a strong feeling that this will make your week just a little bit better than it would have been otherwise.

As I was sitting on my balcony this weekend, a thought occured to me...I have always said that I wanted to own my own business, but I want to do so much more than make a living - I want to make an impact. I have been so very blessed to have successfully launched in August of last year to such gracious reviews. Definitely having faced my fair share of challenges, I continue to trudge through those today. As I was overwhelmed with our manufacturing challenges over the past few months, I nearly lost sight of my bigger goal. This brand was designed to bring a smile to the faces of others. Through our logo, brand name, frilly designs and bright colors, the first reaction of so many is a big bright smile! I mean really, who can look at the little ruffled bottom of a precious angel without grinning from ear to ear?? Charitable sharing is also a priority of our company, giving 5% of net profts to children-focused organizations. But there is so much more that we can do...

So, I am calling on you, the RuffleButt fans, the loving moms, doting grandmas, all of the inspirational women (and men) that stand behind what we are trying to do. This is your chance to take 5 minutes out of your week to do something small for someone else. Think of someone in your life that could really use a smile this week - a friend, a sister, parent, boss, co-worker or even a stranger. Now think of something that you could do to make this happen...a free e-card (, anonomous note, small gift, phone call, a meal...what is it that they need at the moment? Then email me by Friday with your story...I will post them on our website. Your story will likely inspire others and continue to pay it forward.

This may sound a little corny, and you may be thinking that you do these things anyway, but what is a few minutes out of your day to touch the lives of others, not just the one person that you choose, but all of the RuffleButt supporters. You never know what can happen!! I just can't wait to see what the RuffleButt women (and men) can do!