COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As CEO of R.Riveter, Lisa Bradley created the goal of providing independence and income to military spouses all over the country and championing female leaders in the workplace.
On average a military family will move every two to three years, that fact makes it extremely difficult for military spouses to build careers. It’s a problem that this week’s Remarkable Woman Lisa Bradley and her partner Cameron Cruse decided to take head-on when creating the handbag company R.Riveter.
“My co-founder and I met in 2011 after a series of interviews with local businesses and we found out that no one was going to hire us as military spouses,” said Bradley. “So, it’s really frustrating to know that we are capable and driven young women but employers didn’t wanna take a chance on hiring somebody that was just going to move frequently.”
So the women came up with an idea — a distributed manufacturing model — parts are sent to military souses known as “riveters” across the country
“They are able to sew this shell of a handbag — the liners, some of the leather pieces that they’re able to make from home, and then they ship it back to us where we assemble everything,” said Bradley.
To be a spouse of a service member there’s constant change. And there’s also worry on the back of your mind all the time. I always remember it being very scary to even go answer my doorbell, about what would be on the other side. And so to be able to create something positive and consistent in their lives is what meant so much to us.”
Today, R.Riveter is a multi-million dollar company — a far cry from those first years.
“When you start in the only place you can afford, which is your co-founder’s attic, you have to really find ways to make things work,” said Bradley. “Because you don’t have the funds to do it you just have an idea that you know is going to work. And, you know, it’s gonna help people’s lives.”
And along the way, a lot of people told us it was never gonna work, a lot of consultants said you should not ship parts and pieces across the country — it’s way too expensive. But we said we’re not going to budge on it, this is our mission, this is the reason we are who we are and we’re helping people.”
Our husbands have the coolest job ever — they’re jumping out of airplanes they’re really American heroes. But military spouses are serving their country in their own way. And it’s a different way but it’s still very, very important, and so we wanted to be able to create a company that allows them to keep a part of themselves every time that they move. And be able to be part of the American economy and have our kids see that mom does something really special too.”
When the women started money was tight so the first handbags were made out of Lisa’s partner’s military-issued gear. It worked so well that the bags are still made out of canvas today. The name “R.Riveter” is in honor of all the Rosie the Riveters — women who didn’t stand on the sidelines, women that stepped in when the country needed it most.