Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On your journey

It is crazy to think that I am more than three years along my RuffleButts journey! It seems like yesterday that I sat in our little South Florida condo searching endlessly for information on apparal, manufacturers, marketing, entrepreneurship. I knew my life was about to change, but I really had no idea to what extent. To be honest, I was a bit lost, and completely overwhelmed. It is now three years later that I realize that the journey never really ends, it just changes paths.

I often think back to those early days, as I questioned my abilities, my ideas, my strength. Now, three years later, I now know I am tough as nails, and some ideas are good, others could be better. I've learned that I am not perfect, but I have a big heart and can do more than I ever imagined possible. I've learned that I have failed many times in this process and am sure to do it again and again, but I will get back up and still move forward with every bit the determination, morals and optimism. I often try not to get jaded by the industry. This truly is not saying anything negative about the children's apparel industry, as I often felt the same way about real estate. Once you are in a certain industry for a while, it's becomes easy to stay in the box, to watch what others are doing. In the beginning, I was so naive, I didn't have a clue what others were doing. I didn't know about trends, or trade shows, or safe designs. I just made what I liked, at a quality level I was proud of, and sold to anyone who appreciated my creations. I try to keep that mindset, to do things differently, to keep the fundamentals important...our team, our ethics, our big dreams, and the box with no walls.

If you are in the beginning stages of anything, or even 3 years on your own journey, don't forget that you are not alone. We all faces times of challenge, of feeling totally in over our heads. Don't get stuck looking at everyone else.

It has been recently that we have had numerous companies copy our designs. And when I say copy our designs, I don't mean similar colors, or similar bloomers, I mean literally copying the designs. At first, I had my panties in wad, less about them copying, but more about taking with no regard, what I have devoted endless hours to creating. It was then I realized that these companies are truly at a loss. If they are spending their time watching what we are doing, they will never be ahead, always tailing behind. This is big picture here, I'm not just talking about in designs, I mean in life. If you are comparing your mothering abilities to your neighbor, your style to your best friend, your financials to your will never be good enough, for yourself. If you copying other companies instead of following your own dream, you will never truly succeed, and you certainly can't ever be proud. I, as well as most in the industry, take inspiration from many places, some being other designs that we've seen along the way, but that is a whole different story. Regardless, I received a piece of advise from a pilot recently that is quite applicable...he told me that all good pilots focus on the end of the runway. They can't be bothered by any distractions along the way or it could cause them to make major mistakes.

So, where ever you are along your journey, heed his advice...focus in the distance, on your destination and you will stay on track. Don't let yourself feel smaller than others, as I guarantee they were at this point at one time as well. Always hold yourself (and your business if you are an entrepreneur) to high standards and don't waiver on the things that are truly important, no matter what the cost. We have a quote on the wall of our office here at RuffleButts:

"Thing BIG, be honorable, and always give more than expected"

Friday, July 9, 2010

Triple the blessings

Last week, a picture was passed around our office due to the pure joy that it evoked. One of our super sweet customers posted the picture on our facebook page to share her precious little angels. When I laid eyes on this picture, I couldn't contain the huge smile that immediately came to my face! Not only was it truly to so fun to see our creations contributing to this most precious picture, but it was also a reminder of God's most incredible creations, babies.

It was not until today, that I realized the much deeper story behind this picture. You know, we all get so caught up in our own lives, and especially on facebook, things can be so removed. It was a reminder to me that everyone has a journey, and most often others are so unaware. Okay, so back to the story...after seeing the picture, I just knew I had to share this joy with others. I contacted Tami, the mom, and she put me in touch with Jamie, the photographer. Today, Jamie and I got the chance to chat, and wow, what a fabulous photographer - not just in talent, but also in heart. Jamie went on to tell me how this picture truly came about...and I warn you, get out the tissues!

So, Jamie was running a contest for a free session at Jamie Burnett Photography. Not only was she touched by the incredible contest entry sent to her by Tami, but also the multiple entries from Tami's friends and family willing to give away their winning session to Tami. After reading her story, this mom is beyond well deserving, not only of a free photography session, but also of this INCREDIBLE blessing that God has given her and her family, times THREE!!

Take a minute to read Tami's story below, and then give your children a very big hug!

We had twins in June of 2008, a boy and a girl Audrey and Avery. A couple of hours later, the nurse rushed in and said, “we need to get Momma in the NICU right away.” I was nervous and felt like I couldn’t get there fast enough.When they rolled me into the NICU the doctor proceeded to tell me that their hearts both stopped at the same time. She went on to say things, but I just didn’t understand what she was saying. I looked at Adam and he said, “Our baby girl is gone.” I was in complete shock. After much persuasion, the nurse convinced me to hold her, I didn’t want to hold her out of fear, I didn’t want to face reality. I still wanted her hooked up to those machines, because that meant she was still alive. But they unhooked her and wrapped her up in a blanket and put her in my arms. It was so hard. My body was going into physical shock (septic shock) due to the massive amount of blood lost during surgery, and my heart, and mind were in shock and not able to comprehend the magnitude of loss I just experienced. We sat there, crying, and staring at her. She was so beautiful and perfect, I couldn’t understand how she couldn’t be alive. My wheelchair was parked in the middle of my twins, and to my right was our sweet boy, Avery. As we looked into Audrey’s face, heartbroken, we would look up and see Avery’s tiny body, fighting for life. They worked on him for another hour and half. The doctor explained that there wasn’t anything left for them to do and asked what we wanted them to do. I looked at her and said that I know what she was saying, but I couldn’t tell her to stop trying. How can you tell someone to stop trying to do everything they can to save your child? Just minutes later, he was gone. We never thought about taking pictures of them, we weren’t ready or had planned to have them on that day and so we didn’t have a camera with us.

I never knew leaving would be so difficult. There were no babies in my arms and no carseats to fill. We had their funeral the day after our 8th anniversary and then we were faced with a new life and learned how strong we were and how good God is. God has been our rock. Adam is such a strong man of God and really helped me get through it. We never gave up hope. In fact, we didn’t have a middle name for Audrey and during the time I was in my room after they were born, I starting thinking about her middle name. Immediately, I felt like I heard the name Hope being spoken. It was so clear that this was to be her middle name, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of that before! But little did we know that “Hope” would be what would bring us through the most difficult time of our lives, and keep us living. If it weren’t for hope we wouldn’t have had the strength to keep trying. We tried IVF again in Jan 09 and June 09 with no success. We tried again in October and are finally pleased to be pregnant…with triplets and we are due on our 10th anniversary!!

Because we didn’t have the opportunity to take professional pictures with Audrey and Avery, it is even more important and on the forefront of our minds with the delivery of our triplets. We want to make sure that we capture their first few weeks here with us with special portraits and capture their smallest of features. We can’t go back and get close up shots of our twins tiny feet or hands, but we can with our triplets and don’t want to miss this opportunity to celebrate their lives through photographs.

Not only was I inspired by Tami's strength, but I was also blown away by Jamie's generosity. Not only did Jamie give Tami this free photography session, but she hauled her kids and all, more than 11 hours to photograph these precious little baby girls. My philosophy in life is when you put good out there, and have faith, it comes back ten fold. This is evidenced time and again, but Tami and Jamie, you are both an inspiration to us all, and I am truly grateful for that.

I hope you all enjoy this photograph as much as I do!