On Veteran’s Day, November 2011, two military spouses who were seeking worthwhile employment decided to start making women’s handbags in an attic near Fort Merrill in Dahlonega, Georgia. Using a World War II-era sewing machine, Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse began building a business that today employs, inspires and empowers military spouses across the country.
Riveter, a one-of-a-kind brand, creates American handmade products that caught the eye of many when they appeared on Shark Tank in 2015. Landing an investment deal along with the exposure from the show itself has made them even more successful than before. This fall they will launch a new line of signature handbags, American Service Dogs Magazine had an opportunity to interview the founders to get some insight on their mission, entrepreneurial struggles with military life and advice for others seeking to follow their dreams.
What aspects of military life prepared you for this endeavor?
LB: Being a military spouse allowed me to easily put down roots in a new location and we’re inventive and resourceful. You’re able to re-start when you move and think outside the box when it comes to problem-solving.
CC: There is something very strategic about it, but you have to be flexible at the same time. It’s the same with being an entrepreneur, you have to know what you want big picture, but at the same time, you have to roll with the punches.
Before starting your business did you have previous business experience?
LB: Yes; I have an MBA and have had a few jobs in different areas of business. Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, and I am very familiar with the different aspects of owning your own business.
CC: No, I’ve only had part-time job experience. With this, we were able to dive right in without even knowing what we were getting ourselves into. With this, we were able to shape R.Riveter exactly how we wanted it to be.
Did you ever think you would become an entrepreneur?
LB: Yes I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur because my parents were. I knew the ups and downs of owning your own business, and I knew this is something that I have always wanted to do.
CC: No. It wasn’t the direction I wanted to go, but now I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Do you hold any specific certifications or awards for your field?
LB: I do hold a patent for a previous product idea. Recently we won the honor of being recognized on the INC. 500 list. We were named number 298.
CC: Apparel 30 under 30. INC #5 in North Carolina Manufacturing.
LB: I think the challenge that everyone assumes military spouses have is moving all of the time but instead we looked at it differently, and we thought about how this could make us successful. We took that and turned it into the foundation of our business model.
CC: Everyday brings a new challenge. Problem-solving and being agile to fit the day to day company needs.
What has your business enabled you to do with your life you thought were never possible?
LB: It’s allowed me to fulfill my husband’s dreams and aspirations while I am able to follow my own. We’ve moved nine times in the last ten years, and it’s also allowed me to create something of my own; ownership of my career and business while being mobile for my husband.
CC: It’s allowed me to have a perspective that I would have never gained if I went the route of my original life plan. I’ve grown about ten times faster personally and professionally than I would have in a different setting.
What is your future vision for your company?
LB: The future of R.Riveter is always going to be rooted in helping military spouses. We plan to expand in ways that allow us to grow our remote manufacturing network.
CC: I think we are going to continue to redefine what it means to manufacture in America and continue to provide mobile, flexible income on a larger scale.
LB: “Well behaved women rarely make history.” It’s a reminder that you should always be pushing the boundaries as well as pushing yourself.
CC: Don’t over think it. Don’t question yourself and just do it.
To find out more about R. Riveter, shop their new signature line of handbags, and other American handmade products visit their website at www.rriveter.com. I have recently been selected as a brand ambassador for R. Riveter, and you can utilize my discount code RRAmandaB to receive 15% off all handbags now through the end of 2017.