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:

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

Want to win a Sleepy Wrap? Then head on over to 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 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 "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!!