R. Riveter; More than your Typical Handbag Line

Having a great narrative is an essential element to bringing value in a very saturated fashion market. Whether the narrative illuminates the brand’s US-based manufacturing or inspiration from season to season, without a strong, detailed narrative brands cannot differentiate themselves from other similar brands.

R. Riveter, not only has a great product, that serve modern women’s needs, the brand also has an innovative, decentralized business model to that helps support military spouses. In this Month of the Women, R. Riveter giving make to this country and the fashion industry by providing a utilitarian product that can also provide mobile income for women.

Lisa Bradley, one of the co-founders of R. Riveter graciously spoke with Fashion Reverie about her company and how facilitating a flexible income model to military spouses brings her great joy. 

FR: From your site, I learned that you started this handbag company because you and a friend, Cameron Cruse, both military wives, were having difficulty finding employment. Could talk a bit more about that?

Lisa Bradley: Military families move on average two out of every five years, so, it hard for the spouses of a military person to find steady work. Employers understand that you are probably going to move once they conclude that you are a military spouse, making employers less opt to hire, not wanting to invest in a military spouse.

With that fact in mind, Cameron and myself launched a unique handbag line with a business model that supports military spouses. Just like the Ford assembly line, back in the day, military spouse can assist with the manufacturing of our handbags while working from home. The military spouse assembles pieces of the handbags from home and the parts are put together in our factory in North Carolina.

This homegrown assembly line is a throwback to World War II’s Rosie the Riveter who did so much for this country during the war. So, for Women’s History Month we are launching our 2019 spring handbags with an empowering message that goes out to the modern-day woman.

FR: Where is your factory in North Carolina?

Lisa Bradley: Our factory and retail store is in Southern Pines, NC, which is a major stop on the PGA tour. Our retail store is right on Broad Street and it is a great place for the wives and mates of professional golfers to stop and purchase our handbags.

FR: Did you or your business partner have any experience with fashion or handbag design before you started your business?

Lisa Bradley: No, we did not have any fashion design experience or experience in handbag manufacturing. It was new to us and we are still figuring a lot of things out. I believe our lack of experience is a testament to the fact you still create something from nothing in America and if you have the determination, you can grow your brand.

FR: Could you talk about how you came up with the name of your company? 

Lisa Bradley: We named the company after Rosie the Riveter. She was such an icon for American women. We wanted our company to represent modern women, and though Rosie the Riveter is an icon from World War II, she still embodies the spirit of modern women.

As modern women, we have so many things coming at us. From social media telling us who we should be to mass media, everyone is telling women that should take on more responsibilities, as well as their own career goals. We wanted to create a product and business that allows women to be able to create an income from their home while they put the care of their family first.

FR: How did you get your brand name out in the market and grow your company? 

Lisa Bradley: It has been a process. We have really grown the company one handbag at a time. We started the company out of my attic and we initially financed the company with our credit cards. We did a Kickstarter in 2014 that pushed our brand out there.

Our biggest move was appearing on “Shark Tank” in 2016. We did get an investment from Mark Cuban, one of the judges on “Shark Tank.” That investment really helped our company grow. Being on “Shark Tank” really gave us a national platform and gave a big boost to our brand.

FR: How did the appearance of “Shark Tank” happen? 

Lisa Bradley: “Shark Tank” wasn’t something we haven’t considered doing, but it happened, and it seemed like a good opportunity for the company. We spent several months prepping for our appearance of the show.

Once we appeared on the show it was a great experience. The “Shark Tank” team was wonderful and 100% behind us. It is very difficult manufacturing in the US, and the “Shark Tank” team really wanted to support brands where the manufacturing base is in the US. And we were that company. So, that helped us a lot.

FR: Because of the cost of labor in the US, how are you able to maintain a manufacturing base in the US?

Lisa Bradley: We have created a process where if a military spouse in looking for flexible work hours or mobile income, we provide an opportunity that works for all parties involved. Spouses can work any hour of the day, and our customers know that we are providing an opportunity for military spouses to have flexible work and a mobile income. Our customers understand the a third of the cost of the product goes back to the military spouse that helped make our product.

FR: How would a military spouse reach out to you and find employment?

Lisa Bradley: On our website their a link to becoming a member, which is an employee, and there is link about becoming a riveter which details our remote work process. If you have a little bit of sewing experience and the right home tools this is a great opportunity for flexible, mobile income.

FR: Could you describe the brand and its design aesthetic?

Lisa Bradley: Our handbags are classic and very utilitarian. We design our handbags to meet the woman where she is today, whether that is the boardroom or a playground with her children. We feel that a woman shouldn’t have to change out her accessories to accommodate her life. Our handbags are made with canvas and leather so that they are very durable.

FR: Let’s talk about your spring 2019 collection. What was the inspiration behind this collection?

Lisa Bradley: Our spring line launches in mid-March and we are introducing our first custom floral. Our florals are very important to our brand because our florals represent blooms and blooming. As a military spouse you are always moving and having to bloom where ever you are. That process of setting down new roots inspires the blooms in our prints.

FR: You have included a lot of small bags in a spring 2019 collection, which are on trend, could you speak to that?

Lisa Bradley: Our small bags can be worn cross body or on your hip. They are very much in trend now. We also realized that people are traveling and Riveter_01ore active in the springtime, so consumers need a more utilitarian bag that fits with their active life.

Photos courtesy of R. Riveter

Lisa Bradley: Our price points range from handbags priced in the $20 to $250. Our bags are made of the highest quality leather and canvas.

FR: Where can your bags be purchased?

Lisa Bradley: We sell predominantly on our website rriveter.com, and our flagship retail store in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

What’s next for the brand? 

Lisa Bradley: We are always releasing new styles and adding vendors to our marketplace. Our marketplace is a place on our website where we bring attention to other military brands or brands that support the military.

For Women’s History Month we challenge everyone to think of the women in your life that inspire you and to celebrate her by thanking her and possibly purchasing something from our site.

For more information on R. Riverter’s spring handbag line go to rriverton.com.

—William S. Gooch

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