Military wives take on the Sharks when Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley pitch R. Riveter Handbags in the episode 719, the Shark Tank “Military Special” for season seven. The women met on a military base where their husbands were stationed and quickly hit it off. Like most military spouses, they bemoaned the lack of roots caused by constant moves: it seemed neither one of them could find the opportunity to pursue their own passions.
The friends became business partners when they realized their conundrum presented a unique opportunity. If they could find a way to channel their creativity into a business that would make good products and provide opportunities for women in the same situation, they'd have something special. They named their company R Riveter, after Rosie the Riveter – the fictitious female cultural icon made popular by women who joined the industrial workforce to replace men who'd gone off to war during WWII.
They started hand making hand bags from military surplus tents and apparel in Cruse's attic. Before long, they had more orders than capacity, so they networked with other military wives (and at least one husband) to create a group of “remote riveters” who complete part of the assembly process, then ship their goods to the “home office” in Southern Pines, NC.
Their tenacity and ability to market and sell their handbags earned them the attention, and funding, of the Kickstarter community; they raised over $42,000 to get R. Riveter up and running. Will a Shark give R Riveter another kick?
My Take on R. Riveter
I am obviously not going out and buying myself a handbag anytime soon, but I think this is a great story. Finding a way to turn a negative into a positive, especially a profitable one, is always something I enjoy hearing about. As someone who works at home, I can appreciate how much the remote riveters cherish the opportunity to do so. They also don't need to worry about a military move disrupting their job. The remote riveters seem like a very content bunch.
As for the bags, they look cool and my own remote hand bag specialist/college-aged daughter gives them the thumbs up. I'm in just for the creative business model.
Will the Sharks be Riveted?
Like Combat Flip Flops, the R. Riveter story is compelling and inspiring, but the Sharks will want to know the numbers. This business reminds me of Sarah Oliver Handbags from earlier in season seven. Like R. Riveter, Sarah used a unique workforce and business model. Instead of senior citizen “Pearlettes,” R. Riveter uses remote military spouses.
Since Lori invested in Sarah Oliver handbags, I think she'll pass on R. Riveter, but one of the male Sharks could have some interest. The rugged military/industrial look of the products might appeal to Daymond. R. Riveter also runs a Shopify eCommerce site, which is often an indicator of his involvement.