Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We're crazy!!

So, this week has been a whirlwind! I know, I say it every week, but this week is REALLY crazy. I have decided that my husband and I are complete gluttons for punishment. We like to call ourselves "opportunists", but I just think we're crazy. So, here's what we did...

Being that we both came from the real estate industry, we always like to keep an eye on what's going on. So, we were out driving around a few months back and came across this pretty lake house. The house is located just about 20 minutes away from where we live now, but in a lake community. Just for kicks, we decided to take a look. It was nice, we went home, and life went on. Then, a few months later, Mark said to me, "what would you think about moving to the lake?". I thought he was joking at first, but quickly realized that this is totally something we would do! My first reaction was a quick "no way!", but after a few days, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I could come up with quite a few reasons why we shouldn't, but I just felt a little push to explore further.

So, long story made a little shorter...last Friday, I started to do a little more research and came across a home in another nearby lake town. The home looked absolutely gorgeous on the listing site, and I couldn't imagine it was something we could afford. But, as I looked into it a little further, I realized that the home was new construction, left incomplete by the builder, and the home was in foreclosure. I was intrigued, we drove to check it out, and really liked what we found. After much discussion and a LOT of prayer, we made an offer on Monday. By Friday, we found out that we got the house! Yes, we are idiots =) We made an offer to buy a new home when we still own our current home and don't even have it on the market yet. It is the worst time ever to sell a home, and yet, I have this sense of comfort that we can do it. Oh, and did I mention that we haven't even been in our current home for a year?

So, to wrap it up, we close on our new "home" this Friday, start construction on Monday and hope to have our current home sold in the next 30-days! There are just so many things that make this right, but one that is super exciting is the fact that there is an enormous space, absolutely perfect for RuffleButts Corporate, built right into the house, with it's own separate entrance for our employees and a lake view!

Needless to say, it has been a crazy week! Oh, and to top it's also been our best month ever for RuffleButts!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

RuffleButts Contest

UPDATE: Due to many requests, we have extended the deadline to Friday, June 12th!!

I had this vision in church this weekend. I know, it sounds bad that I was thinking about work at church, and not being more focused, but actually, I was thinking about moms, children, families and what a true blessing they really are. So, I have an idea, and I need your help to make it come to life. And, what better than FREE RUFFLEBUTTS as an incentive!!

Here's the deal: Take some creative pictures, have fun while doing it, have great pictures to add to your collection, and maybe earn some free RuffleButts in the process! You don't have to be a mom to participate. Everyone is welcome! Just pick your three or more categories below, and have fun!

- You must send in at least one (1) digital photo in at least three (3) of the seven (7) categories below. The more the merrier, and more chances to win, but three is the minimum.
- No one in the photo is required to be wearing RuffleButts except for the "Little Angel in RuffleButts" photo. Although, you definitely earn bonus points if RuffleButts are spotted in the other categories as well!
- BE CREATIVE, think outside-the-box!!
- On the 'fill-in-the-blanks' categories, the photo must show the actual words in some fashion.
- You give us the rights to use your photos on our website and in any promotional advertising, including the video from my vision! Entrant represents and warrants that the submitted photograph is an original, non-published work that does not infringe any privacy, intellectual property or other rights of any third parties.

1) Baby, Mom, Grandma (Three Generations)
2) Children are ______________.
3) My daughter/granddaughter is ________________.
4) Baby & Daddy (Daddy's Princess)
5) Smiles are ______________.
6) Little Angel in RuffleButts
7) RuffleButts are _______________.

What to do: Send your photos directly to no later than Friday, June 5th. We will be selecting the winner on or before June 12th and will make the announcement at Photos must be at least 72 dpi. Be sure to include in your email your name, phone, and email address, along with your blog address if you have one.

How to win: We will select our favorite photo based on creativity and thoughtfulness. The entrant that submitted the photo will win our 5-Piece Knit RuffleButt Gift Set, including our solid pink, white, turquoise & lime Bloomers, along with the color of their choice from our Floral Knit Collection. This is an $89 value, all yours, for FREE!!

**Please feel free to share this on your own blog - the more the merrier!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Great vendors

I have found in small business that one of the most valuable gifts are those of referrals! So, when I come across a wonderful vendor, I like to share their information, one, as a thank you for doing such a great job, but two, to pay it forward and help other small business owners.

Let me just say that I have worked with my share of graphic designers. I have had all kinds of experiences, but obviously, was still looking for the best fit. So, I recently worked with a graphic designer by the name of Andrea Russell with Optasia Graphics. She is fabulous!! Not only can she get in my brain...seriously, I was a bit freaked out =) but, she is also a true pleasure to work with. This is no surprise, but she actually came to me as a referral from our photographer, Amanda Elkins, who is also beyond fabulous!

So, since I received this wonderful gift from Amanda, I am paying it forward and sharing the info with you! I know this business can be a bit secretive, which can be super frustrating when you are new (or old for that matter), but if someone doesn't have enough trust to change that trend, then each and every one of us are going to have to learn the hard (and expensive way)...or we can change the business and help each other out! I am going to have faith that sharing my resources does not come back to bite me. If you have any great vendors that you would like to share, please post them in the comments we can all succeed together!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Box

I do some of my best 'out loud' thinking in the car with Mark (my hubby), although sometimes, I must admit, I look pretty crazy, 'out loud' thinking in the car all alone! Anyway, on Friday, as we were driving to FedEx to drop off some last-minute orders, a discussion arose regarding some of our past vendors. Have you ever made a statement and then realized how right you were? Well, I had one of those moments...I turned to Mark and said "I think in order to think outside-the-box, you have to live outside-the-box." Then, I realized how true that statement really is. We pride ourselves on good customer service, but in order to provide that service, rarely can I follow the 'rules'. I often find myself driving Express orders to the post office because someone missed our order deadline, but desperately wants bloomers for pictures they have scheduled. Other times I have had products rush shipped from our factory in India for a customer that had her heart set on a particular style for a particular event (at our expense). I have literally driven to a customers house to exchange out a product and have personally sat on the phone for hours trying to track down packages delayed with USPS, even though they are completely out of my control. I am not patting myself on the back by any means, all of these things are expected, or at least I expect them.

You have a choice, you can be as successful as the industry standard, and if you are okay with this level of success, then that is your option. If you are someone not okay with this mid-level success, then you must think outside-the-box. You must rise above the rest, do things differently, not follow the rules, and leave your customers raving about how "different" you are from everyone else!

I'm sure I will, quite honestly, raise the ire a few sales reps with this statement, but in my opinion, the industry standard is no longer the best way to sell products. I think giving exclusivity of an entire chunk of the country to a sales rep that has never sold your products and has yet to turn in a single order is crazy. I also think sending them thousands of dollars in samples and paying monthly showroom fees without any sales requirement / minimum is crazy as well. I was in real estate sales, and if someone offered to give me all of North Carolina real estate transactions, no matter how many (or few) that I completed, and pay me monthly, regardless of how many homes I sold, I would 1st look at them like they are crazy, and 2nd, sign on the dotted line! Does this sound a bit ridiculous to anyone else? Don't get me wrong here...I am all about rewarding someone for a job well-done and paying them fairly for the hard work that they accomplish. That's why I love commissions! It is very black and white, you sell, you get paid.  As my husband always tells his sales staff, and as holds true in the wilderness, "You eat what you kill".  Who's going to provide better service and do a better job, someone who's hungry or someone who's sitting at a free lunch buffet?

Okay, so I'm an Entrepreneur. We are a bit of a rare breed and probably have a harder time following the rules than most. Sometimes I should probably do a better job of that, but for now, I strive daily to think outside-the box, and most importantly to live outside-the-box!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I love my job

No, this title is not to make you nauseous, especially if you are sitting there at your desk staring at the clock...believe me I have my down days too, but I just remembered why I do what I do. I received a phone call from our customer, Megan, calling to place a reorder. She just had the nicest things to say about our products! She sent me pictures of her absolutely adorable daughter Lulu (isn't she cute!!), and gave me the best compliment - she said that the moms at play day, and Lulu's very particular cousin, all raved about her little ruffled outfit. They were all smiles, and I just couldn't ask for more!

She went on to say that she is in early education and so many of the little girls dress like teenagers, which is so disappointing. I am thrilled to hear that there are precious little angels out there enjoying their days of innocence in our little ruffles. The time just goes by so fast and those ruffled years are over before you know it, treasure these days!

So, after many years of soul searching and job hopping, I am just so blessed to be where I am today. Believe me, I never forget it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Need a smile?

This video is actually from back in March, but Mark and I watched it again tonight, and it was definitely that smile I needed. Still, to this day, I get so much joy out of other's responses when they hear our company name or see our products. Inevitably, it is always the same reaction, a big smile! Some days, when I spend most of my day behind a computer, I miss those smiles. Well, Aubrey saved the day - I don't know who could watch this precious little angel and not get a great big grin! There is just something so great about purely innocent, sincere laughter. Why don't we adults do this more often?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Working Mom

Believe me, I think all moms are 'working moms', but I just came across this picture from a few months back and I had to share. I promise, I do not force my daughter to sit at the computer very often, but on this day, she was feeling cooperative and I had a TON of work to do! She was completely passed out and Mark came around the corner and snapped this cute pic...well, cute of her anyway!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kick in the butt!

This is what I need today, a good kick in the butt! So, if you read my crazy ramblings very often, you know I have the mental stability of...well, let's just say I don't really know the word 'stable'! I guess this is true with most entrepreneurs - I would not describe us as stable - driven, stubborn, intense, passionate, even giving, but not so much stable. Well, today is one of those days, I feel even less stable than usual. I'm not 100% on. I think I'm more like 50% off! I'm snapping at my poor husband, impatient with my sweet and curious daughter, annoyed by the flood of emails, and SO ready for the weekend. Okay, maybe it's not THAT bad. I still count my blessings that I am able to sit here and work in my pj pants today (Emily has the day off and Mark sees my in my 'mom' clothes, probably more often than he would like). I still love my job and wouldn't trade it for the world, but I just need a good kick in the butt today. I have so much to get done, as usual, but I think I left my motivation upstairs this morning...I can't really say "at home" since I'm still kinda sorta at home!

So, the good news...I am pretty excited - I am going to have our offices painted in the next week or two. I think that may help. Our RuffleButts office is located in our home, totally separate from the house, with it's own entrances and all, but still technically, at home. So, the entire office is done with dark wood. Dark wood cabinets, dark wood shelving, dark wood trim, dark wood desks, and I have decided that I need some light! So, I am having all of the dark wood painted white, excluding the desks. I will be sure to share some pictures here soon...hopefully we'll have it done in the next week or so. The only problem is that it is a little difficult to run a business while there are painters here...our new factory shipment is due to arrive on Monday, and, of course, this month's Nordstrom order is scheduled to ship out the following Monday. There's always something, but I just need to suck it up and deal with it. I think it will be totally rewarding and worth it, once it's all done. I also made a wall quote to finish off the office that says "Faith is daring the soul to see beyond what the eyes can see." This will be wonderful daily reminder that I am working toward something bigger than what I can see. Sometimes it takes just a little change in your environment to give you a fresh perspective!