Sramana: You had the intuition to react to something that a retail salesperson was giving you. What did you do next? How did you go about setting up your business?
Amber Schaub: My first step was to go back to Mark and share my idea. I also had to get the trademark, which cost $400. I remember telling Mark that $400 was a lot of money to spend. Mark told me that I either had to go for it or do nothing, so I just went for it.
After that, I went full steam ahead. I started doing research and read anything I could get my hands on about how to design, how to get samples, and everything else you need to do in the retail space. I called everyone I knew who had knowledge on sample-making and I took a sewing class. I had to be able to talk to the person who would make the product to describe the fabric and seams that I wanted to use.
Sramana: What about the website and transaction capabilities? When did you have a site online?
Amber Schaub: I immediately went down the path of development and production. That was ambitious, considering that I had no sales. I knew that I had to produce the product so that people could see it and purchase it with immediate shipment. I hired a small web development company and they designed a basic e-commerce site for me. At that point, I showed everything to Mark and he helped me take the website to the next level. We launched that website in August, 2007.
I also attended a trade show, which is a common way to sell clothing in the children’s apparel industry. I rented out a booth and asked my mom to fly out from Kentucky and help me since I had no employees. We did our first trade show so that we could get feedback, and also to try and sell our RuffleButts wholesale.
Sramana: Where were you living?
Amber Schaub: I was living in South Florida when I started the business, but the trade show that we attended was in Las Vegas.
Sramana: In terms of the product itself, what strategy did you follow? How did you get the product built?
Amber Schaub: In 2007, information was not as readily available as it is today. When I went out looking for production partners, I could not just do a quick Google search to find partners to product children’s apparel. Today you could probably do that, but I could not do that in 2007.
I just looked for any factory contact I could find. I was fearful of producing overseas and my quantity was very low, so most overseas factories would anyway not produce at our quantity level. I ended up finding a gentleman who lived in South Florida who owned a factory in the Dominican Republic. He agreed to produce the entire first line for me.
Sramana: How many units were in your first line and who did the designs?
Amber Schaub: I did 100% of the design and still do today. I don’t have a design background, so I had to figure out how to make that work. I designed from a common sense perspective. I just put myself in the shoes of a mother who will be purchasing and I ask myself what will be important. It has to be soft, it has to hold up in the wash, and it has to have quality. I cannot produce bargain apparel, but I still wanted it to be available and affordable to the masses.