It all began with a fruitless search for the frilly bloomers of her toddler days in Kentucky. The mother of Colleyville resident Amber Schaub called these dainty diaper covers “rufflebutts.” Throughout her life, Amber just assumed that was the accessory’s official name.
Whether or not they were phased out as time passed or carried inconspicuously at a random store no one was aware of, Amber could not track them down when the time came to purchase a gift for one of her friends who had a baby girl. To her disappointment, rufflebutts were foreign to most boutique owners, or if they were familiar, storeowners did not know who even supplied such things.
Enter Amber’s aha moment: She made it her mission to bring rufflebutts back to store shelves; thus, RuffleButts, Inc. was born. In just seven years, the apparel company has morphed from a one-woman organization in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, into a multimillion-dollar business based right here in Flower Mound.
“I started the business before I had children and I always wanted to be a mother.”
You might recall Amber on ABC’s Shark Tank in fall 2013, but it wasn’t the show that catapulted Amber’s company to success. “We’ve been growing every year since we started, and in 2012 we landed on the Inc. 500 list as one of the fastest-growing children’s apparel companies in America,” Amber says. That was pre-Shark Tank.
RELATED: Meet more moms who found greater success after Shark Tank: Milk Snob’s Melanie Disbrow and Sleeping Baby’s Stephanie Parker.
RuffleButts was also pre-children. Even before Amber and husband Mark became parents to daughter Aubrey and son Jonas, the founder was busy creating new designs for the beautiful bloomers that have become so popular today.
On the RuffleButts Workfront/Homefront
Naturally, balancing motherhood and business duties doesn’t happen without serious effort. And while Amber seems to be doing a fine job so far, she admits that there’s no secret formula. “People ask me what the magic answer is — how you achieve balance — and honestly my answer is you don’t. I think a lot of moms feel failure/guilt in one area or another, and for me, I just try to give as much as I can with whatever I’m doing in that moment. I feel the same thing every other mom does.”
“We try to do something eventful for them every weekend…but whatever we do, they have 100 percent of our attention.”
“I feel guilty when I can’t be at my daughter’s party at school, because I have a meeting or an interview or whatever’s going on at work. But we can’t do everything well if we try to do all of it at the same time,” she surmises. “So when I’m at work, I try to do work the best that I can. And when I go home, I focus on my kids until they go to bed. Then I go back to work [mode] again.”
And her success has not gone unnoticed on the home front. In fact, Mark left his job in 2010 to become RuffleButts’ COO. Their children’s reactions have been varied: “My son is 3, so he has no idea. To him, he just says I work a lot,” Amber explains. “I think if given the choice, he wishes I was like his friends with stay-at-home moms who show up at school a lot and pick them up early, etc. So I don’t think he quite appreciates the dedication [I have] at this point.”
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Aubrey, on the other hand, seems to be taking mental notes on what Mom does well and not-so-well. “One of the things that helps me deal with some of that guilt is that I truly believe that she observes me from afar, and I think that [my work] does show her different options for her life,” Amber shares.
“[But we’ve also] gone through phases when I’ve asked her how many kids she wants, and she said she couldn’t have kids because she wouldn’t have time because she was going to have 20 jobs! I went to Mark and I said, ‘Oh no, I think I’ve ruined her!’ She’s changed her opinion about that now. She wants kids, but you know she still aspires for careers — now she’s down to like five jobs. But I think she appreciates [what I do], which is good.”
Recently, Amber says she and Aubrey were watching TV and Giuliana and Bill was on. It showed their son sporting some RuggedButts (the boys’ version of RuffleButts), which Aubrey noticed. “She turns around and says, ‘Look, Mom, someone does actually buy your clothes,’” notes an amused Amber.
Weekend Quality Time
But whether the kiddos are supportive of the biz or wishing to have more time with Mom and Dad — or both — Amber and Mark do everything they can to make the most of their family time. Their typical weekday schedule is a tight one: The kids attend school from 8am to 6pm and the parents work every minute in between.
But weekends are completely devoted to Aubrey and Jonas. “We try to do something eventful for them every weekend, whether it’s go to the park, go swimming or go to the zoo. But whatever we do, they have 100 percent of our attention,” Amber asserts. Tarrant County favorites for the Schaubs include the Stockyards and the MAIN St. Arts Festival; they end up in Fort Worth at least one or two weekends a month.
Amber’s schedule is a packed one, to be sure, but it’s fueled by passion and inspiration, especially from her kids. “I started the business before I had children and I always wanted to be a mother, so the fact that I’m blessed with two children now and get to create clothing for the children of other parents is the coolest job ever,” she enthuses. “My kids inspire me in so many ways just as who they are. Our apparel is really meant to celebrate childhood and being young.”
This article was originally published in August 2014.
Photos courtesy of RuffleButts