Monday, September 27, 2010

My little RuffleButt

It is not often I talk about my little RuffleButt here on the RuffleBlog, but today, I had a little revelation. I started RuffleButts with the intention of doing a handful of things, one of which was making people smile. Seems simple, and almost a little corny, right? Well, after living the fast-paced life of million dollar real estate in Dallas, I was ready to sell to moms instead of millionaires. Ok, maybe a few millionaire moms included, but to people who just wanted to dote on their baby girls and enjoy life. It is so fun to see people repeat our brand name, or just to see their reactions to our little ruffles...9.9 times out of 10 it is a big grin, a HUGE reward for what I do every day.

I started RuffleButts before I was a mom myself. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but God decided his plan was a little later than I had anticipated. I put everything I had into this business and it really became my baby pre-baby. It gave me such joy, such reward, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

Then came my Aubrey! I had no idea what these little people do to your life. So, this morning as Aubrey and I stood in the kitchen ready to head out the door to school, I looked at her and that great big grin and realized that I now get to do two things that are all about the smiles...share RuffleButts and be a mom. Life doesn't get much better!

Ok, I'm certainly not pretending that I don't struggle like every other woman in this world...that I wasn't in a battle of the wills with my toddler just last night. Yes, she is a strong-willed little lady, and absolutely HATES brushing her teeth! Yes, I am like every other mom, but it is smiles like these that remind me how blessed I truly am!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I came across a quote by Ralph Emerson. "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn". How true is this?

I often think back to that moment when I made the decision to go after my dream. To put everything I had into this business...our savings, my pride, every ounce of my time, and my heart. It was all or nothing. I stood there on the cliff, of course super nervous about that step that was in front of me. I prayed about it, thought about it, and knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn't at least try. But what about failure? I was a business school graduate, and if I learned anything about entrepreneurship, it was that most businesses fail. What I also learned, that most successful entrepreneurs had failed at least once in their lives before they hit the jackpot. Ok, if I fail, I suck it up, learn from it, and move on. So much easier said than done! If I don't fail, well, my life would change forever!!

I have always been a little stubborn...well at least that's what my husband tells me =) So, I could take that stubbornness and turn it into something useful! I was new, naive, and completely in over my head. Bring it on!

That's easy for me to say today, right? Well, I am writing this for you. If you are at that step. If you have thought about your idea for years now. If you know what it is that you want in your life, but are afraid to fail, I am here to give you that little nudge. It doesn't matter if is a business idea or a personal dream. Want to write a book? Or make a life change? See, I've learned over recent years that life goes by really, really fast. But the cool thing about that, when you are steering the ship, it's an awesome ride!! And it's never too late!

Last week, I wrote about an Oprah episode that helped me to find my path. Ever since I started this company, I wanted to find a way to help other women in the way that Oprah and Sara inspired me. I obviously don't have quite the reach of Oprah =) but, this is my attempt at paying that forward. If I could give this gift that I have found to just one of you out there, that would be my true success. I'm not telling you to follow me, or even Sara, but follow your own dream, your own heart. You may feel like a little acorn out here with little impact, but Emerson was right, just one little acorn can create an entire forest.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spanx for the inspiration

This post was inspired by a phone call I received this morning. I believe there are small moments in your life that truly change everything. Often we are unaware of their impact until months later, sometimes even years later, but they are moments that are ingrained in us forever. Over the years, I have shared many of my moments with you, specifically my "light-bulb moment" in the parking lot. Well, one moment that I don't think I have shared was a simple episode of Oprah. Quite honestly, I can't remember if they were one combined episode or if it was two separate episodes that aired very close together.

I remember vividly the passion in her voice, the excitement that consumed her, the fulfillment that seemed to radiate as she sat there with Oprah sharing her story. I knew that would be me someday. Ok, I REALLY, REALLY hoped that would be me one day! Her name is Sara Blakely, her big idea...SPANX! She went on to tell her story of flying all the way to Dallas to convince Neiman Marcus to sell her products. There was that fire that I longed for. She was young, ambitious and not too terribly different from me. I could do that, I could be that excited...please God, give me my idea!!

Then, it happened again. It was another episode of Oprah, Million Dollar Moms. Well, I was not a mom at that time, but again these women had done it. It was the story of Sherri Schmelzer that stood out to me this time. She had taken a simple idea and made millions. She worked hard, had found her niche and found financial success for her family. What made these women so different from me?? I could do this, I just knew it!!

Literally, it wasn't maybe 2 weeks later that my "light-bulb" moment occurred in that parking lot. Was this God's big flashing arrow sign for me? This way Amber, do it...go for it! It was in March of 2007 that I formed RuffleButts, Inc. Over the years, those moments have come and gone in my memory as I have trudged my own journey, but the phone call this morning reminded me how truly important those moments have turned out to be. I started this blog in hopes of inspiring other women to pursue their dreams, but I realized today that I owe a very large thank you to all three of these women, Sara, Sherri, and of course Oprah. All three of them had a hand in my destiny, little me, just a twenty-something at the time, searching for my own journey. You never really know who you are going to touch, who is begging, praying for their own light-bulb moment. I hope that someday I am able to pay that forward!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Trade shows and events

I am often emailed with specific business questions, and although I would love to answer them all, I sometimes fall a little behind. In attempt to help anyone and everyone finding this type of info helpful, I am going to try to give you my 2 cents here:

For national trade shows...
I am truly not the expert on this one. The only trade show that I have personally attended was KIDShow Las Vegas when I first launched the company in 2007. Ever since, I have been torn on the decision to attend these events. The cost is extremely high when factoring in travel and all of the additional costs on top of the booth. Although, with that said, it is all about ROI. If you write enough sales to cover your cost, it is a no-brainer, especially with re-orders down the road. If you don't write enough sales to cover the cost, is the exposure worth it? The trouble is you never know how much you're gonna write until the money has been spent and the show is over.

Another interesting piece of this puzzle for us is that we have been extremely blessed by the fact that 95% of our wholesale customers have come to us. In the past 3 years, we really haven't participated in trade shows or trade advertising. Fortunately, we have incredibly supportive fans who often recommend our products to their favorite stores. We also have two super sweet sales reps at their local markets who have introduced their clients to our brand. As our business grows, we continue to expand and explore other opportunities, but so far this is where we stand with trade shows.

Here is a list of the children's trade shows that I seem to hear about most often over the years (just in case it is helpful):
KIDShow Las Vegas
ABC Kids Expo
Bubble New York
ENK Childrens Club

Other events (specifically the Boom Boom Room):
Ok, I get this question often, and I totally understand why, but it is a tough one to answer. Here's why...I truly believe that most events are what you make of them and 90% of the time, they are a lot of expense for an ROI that rarely justifies it. For me personally, I am glad that we did the Boom Boom Room and am grateful that Jayneoni extended the invite. With that said, I feel like, over the years, it seems as though almost all children's product companies have received the same invite, and the reviews are quite mixed. For me, it is all about expectations. If you expect to walk into some event, to be surrounded by glamorous celebrities and for your line to become a Hollywood hit overnight, then this is not the place for you. If you are going into this as a possible press opportunity and fun experience, then I think it could be worth the cost. For me, I'm glad we went when we did, but don't have plans to return in the near future.

I find that so much in this business is hit or miss, trial and error. You truly have to find what works for you. I would say that most of our business friends do participate in these trade shows and some attend the Boom Boom event year after year. I find that I often stray from the norm in the business and do what works for us. With that said, this may not necessarily be what works for you.