The Story Behind R. Riveter: Easton’s Newest Shop/LAB Store
Being a military spouse is no easy task. Many military spouses have a difficult time maintaining meaningful jobs and a professional career due to frequently changing living situations. In fact, 57% of military spouses do not work outside of their homes. But in 2011, a concept was born that would grant military spouses with a solution to this problem. R. Riveter, named after the iconic leader of America’s WWII workforce, Rosie the Riveter, is empowering military mobile work spouses by putting tools in their hands and passion in their hearts.
R. Riveter, our newest Shop/LAB store, is an American handbag and accessories company, was founded by military spouses Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse after they experienced the struggle of pursuing professional careers while traveling with their military husbands. By using their entrepreneurial spirit, these women not only found their passion but are inspiring a nation of military families. We had the opportunity to sit down with co-founder Lisa Bradley to discuss R. Riveter’s conception, success and what makes R. Riveter’s mission so impactful.
How did the business idea for R.Riveter come about?
“Military spouses have difficulty finding work as they move around a lot,” Lisa said. “We wanted to find a way to empower military spouses across the country and provide mobile, flexible income to the modern business-women.”
It started with a $4,000 investment, a commercial sewing machine, and a small supply of leather and canvas. From the beginning, R. Riveter has prided themselves on hand-made leather bags and accessories, made with quality American materials. After demonstrating their capabilities, demand for these bags grew, and resulting in a successful Kickstarter which allowed Lisa and Cameron to hire some additional help – other military spouses looking for flexible income, a.k.a. The Riveters. Then, in 2016, R. Riveter appeared on Shark Tank to secure investors and launch their start-up into stardom. They succeeded when billionaire investor Mark Cuban saw the worth in the business and backed R. Riveter for $100,000.
“Shark Tank helped us address the needs of our company, especially in terms of growth,” Lisa said. “It was the most exhilarating and terrifying day of our business lives.”
How many Riveters are a part of the business now?
After Lisa and Cameron’s success and Shark Tank appearance, R.Riveter began receiving requests from all over to join the company’s mission of providing quality and opportunity.
“There are over 2,000 people that want to be Riveters with us now, just to give a scale of our business,” Lisa said. “Luckily, as demand for our product increases so will opportunities for more Riveters to join the company.”
R. Riveter has over 35 Riveters operating nation-wide. It can take up to 12 individuals to handcraft a single product from start to finish. Each product is marked with a “maker number” that signifies which Riveters worked on the piece, so you know who and where the product comes from.
What are R. Riveter’s most popular products and designs, and do you have a personal favorite?
R. Riveter sells a wide variety of high-end, handmade goods including handbags, clutches and pouches, leather accessories, apparel, jewelry, books, stationery and more, including Lisa’s favorite all leather zipper clutch, the Naomi, named after Namoi Parker – the model for the iconic WWII “We Can Do It” poster. Their most popular bag, however, is the Otto Cross Body Bag, named after the longest-working Rosie the Riveter, Elinor Otto.
What do you think is the reason behind R. Riveter’s success?
There is a lot to love about R. Riveter. They are functional, high quality, and every single bag is made by a real-life, modern-day Riveter. But what makes the brand especially unique is its message and the community that supports them. R. Riveter has a company saying, a shorthand expression, that they say binds the era of WWII and the Rosie’s of the past with the Riveters and military spouses of today – “Of many, one.”
“Customers understand that they are a part of, and supporting the military spouse community,” Lisa said. “R.Riveter doesn’t hire military spouses to make handbags. We make handbags to hire military spouses, and create a greater sense of mission.”
What’s next for R. Riveter?
There is a lot on the horizon for R. Riveter as it makes its way into new product markets, promising room for more Riveters to join the team and increasing work-from-home opportunities. With the expansion of R.Riveter into the Columbus marketplace at Easton’s Shop/LAB, the company has launched a new candle line, adding a Riveter who is the wife of a local Columbus firefighter with stage-four lung cancer.
“Only available in our location at the Shop/LAB store at Easton, we offer people the unique experience to come to the space and customize a candle themselves,” Lisa said. “Everyone can come and be Riveter for a day!”
March 21 will mark National Rosie the Riveter Day. Be sure to keep an eye out for more R.Riveter news on their Facebook and Instagram, and check out the new location at Shop/LAB!