Mission of Empowerment:
My husband and I watch Shark Tank as any good entrepreneurs would. We’ve been through a few business ideas, products, and ventures together. We watch and we learn what an investor will or won’t get behind, and why. My husband has been in the military since he graduated high school, and I have been a military wife for 15 years now. That is all why, when the co-founders of R. Riveter, Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley came on for their spot on Shark Tank, I was instantly all ears. As a military wife, a womanpreneur, and a self-proclaimed bag lady why wouldn’t I be?
I have been fortunate as a military wife in all the years we have been together; he has deployed twice, once for five months just after 9/11 and then a few years ago took a temporary duty at a base a few hours from us for six months. We also have been even more fortunate to have had only two stations since our marriage. Nevertheless, military life is very different from civilian life, in some ways it is difficult even to explain. Military spouses have a tremendously unique situation to live. Part of their time is alone with or without kids, and they become the chief cook and bottle washer for their homes and family. They can have the job of two adults at a moment’s notice. Then add that they may move every couple of years it makes it difficult to get continued education or even complete the education they started. Then jobs become a problem because while a company cannot discriminate against you for being a military spouse, you will have to face unique situations for time-off, sometimes putting in short notice when it is time for you to transfer, and it all can make or break a career path. Not to mention, being alone in new places and not necessarily (like it was for me) connecting to anyone, so your in-person network may be limited if not non-existent.
That brings me back to R. Riveter, their model for business and the premise is GENIUS! They solve several issues for a military spouse. They allow you to use a skill set to make a certain part of the bag; if you can sew you can do that part, if you can put the fixtures together you can do that part, and etc. The genius part is you can do it no matter where you are or how many times you have to move, you take your job with you, and you do it from home. Military spouses with secure, portable, and sustainable income and a network of other spouses…now that is a successful mission.
And if that isn’t enough, the handbags are made from re-purposed military materials including uniforms so you can literally have a bag that defies our throw-away society and is full of meaning and sacrifice. They say, “Some will simply call it a handbag. We call it a mission.” Gotta love that!
I admire these womenpreneurs immensely for several reasons:
- They defied what others told them by continuing to work together and go for it even though they are complete opposites.
- They started from an attic in Georgia.
- They knew that being American Made wasn’t enough, they wanted more to go into than that.
- They successfully launched with a Kickstarter campaign, not exactly an easy thing to do even you have the best product.
- The bag itself solves no new need in the world as we can get handbags anywhere, but who the bag is made by and what it is made of changes the reason you want it. The need they solve: providing for difficult situations, one amazing thing, an income for a military spouse not to have to worry about when orders come down.
- Finally, we have watched many people with great products fail miserably in front of the Sharks and these women kept their poise and answered on point…they nailed it!
You can read their full story here.
You can buy a bag here.
Thanks ladies for letting me share your amazing and powerful story. It is absolutely awesome when an idea becomes a mission that changes lives. I don’t own a bag yet but it’s on my wishlist.