It was early 2011 when R.Riveter Co-Founders Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley met each other in Dahlonega, Georgia, where both of their husbands were stationed. As military spouses, they needed to find a way to have a steady income, even as their families moved from station to station. They needed flexibility and were on a mission to create mobile income for military spouses across the country. Their product had to be functional and efficient, something a military spouse would be able to utilize in their day-to-day activities. The decision to make handbags was an easy one.
It should come as no surprise that the name R.Riveter is a nod to Rosie the Riveter, the famous gal in a red kerchief and rolled-up shirt sleeves used in ads to recruit women to work in industrial settings to support the defense department during World War II. In the very same way, Lisa and Cameron set out to find a way to help support military families while their soldiers were also busy serving the country. They started it all with an industrial sewing machine in Lisa's attic.
Cruse and Bradley on the R.Riveter factory floor.
Influenced by books like Simon Sinek's Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, Cameron quickly understood what it means to be accountable, and knows leadership skills only grow with each experience. Reading the Harvard Business Review's On Strategy was also key in helping her understand strategic growth for long-term success instead of short-term gains. This fit right in with Cameron's knack for problem-solving and her passion for creative design.
Cameron says she is grateful to her parents, children, and husband because they have given her the opportunities she needed, and they inspire her every day to be better. She also sings the praises of her small but close-knit team at R.Riveter, saying that without them none of this would be possible. They are living proof that with some persistence, dedication, and a lot of hard work, dreams really do come true.
The transition to living a military lifestyle caused a paradigm shift, both personally and professionally, and it wasn't always easy. Cameron says it took her plans and perceptions about the world, chewed them up, and spit them out. And that's exactly what she needed to find her purpose of fighting for flexible and dependable income for military families.
R.Riveter's handbags aren't just American Made. Every single piece of leather is hand cut, every liner lovingly stitched, every single piece is crafted and assembled with thoughtfulness and purpose. Perhaps the most important part of this is that those hands belong to military spouses. The security they are able to provide families is immeasurable.
As of the end of 2017, they proudly have 30 local employees, and 27 remote Riveters.
Cameron's advice to her beloved military community?
"Never let your situation become a crutch. Find your strengths and focus on those. See everything as an opportunity for continued success or pay no attention to it at all! Business and entrepreneurship is an exercise in persistence and discipline. No one is positioned better for that than those in the military community."