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How An Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapped to $5M: RuffleButts CEO Amber Schaub and COO Mark Schaub (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 22nd 2014

Sramana: You said you designed the clothing yourself even though you did not have a background in design. Can you explain that process to us?

Amber Schaub: I would draw things up and take my designs to a pattern maker. She would take my designs and convert them into a paper pattern. I sent those paper patterns to the factory, and they cut the fabric based on that pattern.

Sramana: How many different design variations did you have in your first line?

Amber Schaub: The first line had a RuffleButt Bloomer, a RuffleButt Crawler which is a pants version of our Bloomer, T-shirts to coordinate with the RuffleButt Crawler and tops to match the RuffleButt Bloomers.

Sramana: How much did you have to spend to get that line developed?

Amber Schaub: Mark and I invested $40,000 to start the business. We decided we would put it all in and use that money to get the website up and going as well as place our first order. We had no outside investors.

Sramana: How much inventory did that get you?

Amber Schaub: At that time, we ordered about a dozen pieces of each item, per size, per color.

Sramana: It sounds like you had a pretty sizable inventory.

Amber Schaub: In the beginning when I started the business, I realized that in order to attract customers to my website I needed a full collection. I could not offer a bloomer in two colors and pretend that it was sufficient. I decided to go all the way and produce a full collection from the beginning.

Sramana: Mark, you kept your job during this time frame. It sounds like you were bootstrapping with a paycheck. Interestingly enough, there are a lot of businesses founded by couples where one of the two keeps a job while the other develops the business.

Mark Schaub: It fit together like a perfect puzzle. I was in real estate development flipping homes, and then for the months in between homes sales, Amber would have the steady paycheck. It was a change of pace and role reversal for me to keep the steady job so that Amber could do the startup.

Sramana: What about customer acquisition? How did the first customers come to your site?

Amber Schaub: Looking back, it is still amazing to me. I had no marketing budget and I did not get to advertise. I just organically got the word out, which is amazing. We launched the website in August and the first shipment arrived in December. Everything I sold from August to December was a pre-sale item.

Sramana: Was that wholesale?

Amber Schaub: It was both retail and wholesale. We had the website, which appealed to retail but I was also selling wholesale. I spent a lot of time on the phone with stores trying to introduce them to this line. I was trying to convince them to order the product for their stores for a January shipment. I really focused on building the brand. I wanted to use the brand to drive traffic to the company.

I was very fortunate to receive a call from a stylist in LA with Celebrity Babies. I had called her in December to let her know about my company. She called and asked me to fly out to California the following week to do an event with a bunch of celebrities and their babies for the Golden Globe.

This segment is part 3 in the series : How An Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapped to $5M: RuffleButts CEO Amber Schaub and COO Mark Schaub
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