The business industry is constantly changing, and from what we see for women, it is for the better. Amber Schaub is the definition of a go-getter. A mother of two, Schaub now runs her own children’s fashion brand (entitled “RuffleButts”) that has surpassed a million dollars in revenue as of 2012. She is attempting to redefine how companies are run and we certainly approve of it.
Tell us, what exactly inspired RuffleButts? Why did you name the brand RuffleButts? In retrospect, I firmly believe that “RuffleButts” was my destiny, but was directly inspired by a lack of fulfillment in my career, a desire for ethics in business, and a drive to do things the ‘right way.’ When out looking for the ruffled diaper covers of my childhood memories, I was shocked by the disappearance of this childhood wardrobe staple. My ‘light-bulb’ moment came in a parking lot outside Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I picked up my cell and called my mom, “Mom, I think I know what I’m supposed to do.” Days later I trademarked the name “RuffleButts.” The name was the easy part...it’s what my mom always called my ruffled diaper covers as a child, I thought that was the official name for most of my life.
You were in real estate before transitioning RuffleButts. What does RuffleButts offer that real estate doesn’t? For me, fulfillment, simple as that. Although I [had] success in the real estate industry, I was frustrated by the ethics (or lack thereof), disgusted by the customer service (it was the hay-day for the industry at the time, and everyone seemed to take customers for granted), and simply missing a piece of me. I think real estate can be great, [but] it just wasn’t my destiny. I yearned to affect people on a greater scale, and funny enough, ruffled baby booties allow me to do that.
Have you ever had experience in running your own business before? How exactly did you learn the in’s and out’s of starting your own company? I was 27 when I started RuffleButts, so if you discount my experience in running a babysitting club in middle school, I was a newbie at the CEO thing. I had always dreamed of starting a business, even tossed around a few ‘business plans’ through college, but I was never really ready to take the plunge. Looking back, RuffleButts came at just the right time for me. Learning the in’s and out’s, well that question is truly ongoing. I have learned a ridiculous amount of everything in the past five years, and really have no idea how in the world I did it without any industry or entrepreneurship knowledge whatsoever. With that said, I still have so much to learn, and do so every single day. Here’s the thing, if we all waited till we were experts at whatever we are about to try, most of us would never take the 1st steps. I’m almost grateful that I didn’t realize how lacking in knowledge I truly was at the beginning or I may have sprinted away in fear.
What were the difficulties you faced in launching RuffleButts then later Ruggedbutts (your boys’ line)? What difficulty didn’t I face really? My biggest hurdle in the beginning was production or manufacturing. I had no idea where to start, who to trust, how to negotiate, how to manage the process. I thought it would be as simple as googling ‘children’s apparel manufacturer,’ not so much! Let’s just say, I ended up on the couch of a local therapist less than one year in. I didn’t know how to mentally carry it, and I’m one darn stubborn individual. With the support of my family, and especially my husband, I was determined to make it work. Five years later, two kids later, and the addition of a boys’ brand, we’re still going strong!
Who would you deem your inspiration behind RuffleButts or simply being a female entrepreneur overall? What keeps you so motivated? My faith. I remind myself that faith is trusting what the eyes cannot see. I have no crystal ball, but I know with all the faith in the world that this is what I am meant to do. The fact that I am able to touch others, to affect them in a positive way, brings me more joy than I can explain. From watching my employees blossom, to receiving pictures from a proud grandma, to inspiring other women to go after their own dreams, these are daily gifts that I do not take for granted.
Is there any competition that you have to manage? Sure, what business does not have competition? If no one is copying what you do, then you likely don’t have the greatest idea going! In my opinion, I owe it to my team to stay ahead. If at any point you find yourself following another company and imitating their decisions, it is time to re-evaluate the business plan. In my eyes, it’s like a ship following behind Christopher Columbus. That’s no way to make history! I know we’re not discovering America here, but we are certainly planning to make some history.
What is the demand of RuffleButts like among customers? We are beyond blessed to have the most amazing, encouraging, and loyal customers. I truly don’t know how we got so lucky, but the fact that they spread the word, and support us every step of the way is just incredible to me. Our company has a growth rate of over 2000% in the past three years. The demand and growth has truly been humbling and thrilling, all at once.
What kind of feedback have you received that are noteworthy? The hundreds if not thousands of pictures that we have received directly and on our Facebook page (with over 106,000 fans) are what push us every day. The emails and notes that I receive telling of my direct inspiration on their life, those are the ones that really drive deep for me.
Being a mother of two children, are there some challenges you face in balancing motherhood and work? If so, what are they? What are the perks? I can only speak personally, but this is an enormous challenge. I struggle like every other mom, wondering what more I should or could be doing. Do I spend enough time with them? Am I missing out on big moments in their life? For me, I feel like I am a better mom by following my heart and doing what I do, but I still wonder sometimes if they are paying the price. The time I spend with them is precious and I try my best to be 100% focused when we are together. The perks, well I guess that’s being able to ‘have it all!’
Now, we know RuffleButts is a multi-million dollar making company. What do you think makes the brand so successful? Is it odd to have so many people know how much the company makes? It was a tough decision for us to go public with our sales figures. Honestly not something I wanted to do, but since we are in the running for the Inc5000 list, it was something required in order to qualify. My reasoning is not because I want to hide anything, but because the average person does not understand the relationship between revenue figures and profit figures. I didn’t want our customers, employees, friends, or family to have the perception of us as “millionaires.” I live a life that is not like any “millionaire” that I ever imagined. I didn’t grow up around money, not even close, and I am very much the same person today.
What was life like before RuffleButts? How did the children change your perspective on business and life in general? I am blessed with a uber-smart and hard-working husband Mark, who serves as the company’s COO. Aubrey, our daughter was born about a year after RuffleButts, and Jonas, our son was born just months following the launch of RuggedButts (they told us he was a girl at our 1st ultrasound, so I thought I was going to be model-less for the boys line, so he came as a very fun surprise and with great timing!). Children change everything in every way. I can’t imagine our life without them. They truly humble you and are a daily reminder of what is really important in life.
What is the best thing about running RuffleButts? Everything. Look, I don’t live in lala-land. This job is tough, very tough. I think those big black circles decorating my eyes are now permanent! With that said, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to do what I do. I face a bit of burnout like anyone else. There are some days that I’d rather hang out in bed and watch movies or play with my kids, but the truth is I know how lucky I am to have found my calling. Many people search many years for this and I hope that through my story, even just one other person can discover this joy in their own life.
In an era of budding entrepreneurs, what kind of advice do you have to offer for people who are striving for success in their business or field of work? I guess if someone reading this is already an entrepreneur, they can likely relate. My only advice, as corny as it may sound to some, is to pray when lost and live with heart. We’re only human, and as an entrepreneur, sometimes you feel responsible to have all of the answers. The reality is, we don’t and never will. My other advice is that if you are not going to do it with 110% effort and heart, don’t do it at all.