As we process applications for the 2012 Inc. 500|5000, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. One that caught our eye was RuffleButts in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It was 2007, when Amber Schaub went searching for an antiquated piece of children’s apparel to give her friend’s daughter as a birthday gift. Unable to find the "ruffle butt bloomers" she associated with her childhood, Schaub stumbled upon a business idea, and within the year launched RuffleButts, a children’s apparel company known for the sale of the bloomers Schaub couldn’t seem to find.
Now five years later, Amber, 32, and her husband Mark Schaub, 36, are co-owners of what has grown from a niche product idea into a full-fledged children’s apparel company—with a 2011 revenue of $2,543,300. Today, RuffleButts sells its products all over the U.S. and internationally (roughly 75 percent of its sales are online), having expanded from just selling the RuffleButts bloomers to a wide variety of girls’ clothing and even extending into the realm of boys’ apparel with its RuggedButts line, which was launched in August of 2011.
"We have always had a drive and desire to create something bigger than ourselves, but with our careers prior to RuffleButts, there was only so much we could do," says Mark.
Before the conception of RuffleButts, Amber found herself unhappy and unfulfilled in a real estate position—sickened by the lack of ethics she says she saw within the industry on a daily basis.
"At the time I really struggled with what I was doing and what my purpose in life really was," says Amber. "So I quit my job, taking some time to do that search and about three months later I started RuffleButts."
Mark was very supportive of Amber’s move out of real estate, and even found himself in a similar position. As a VP for a mortgage company before joining Amber and RuffleButts full time in 2010, he viewed his position as lackluster.
"The dollars were okay, but the fulfillment was really lacking," says Mark. "There were only so many people you could impact."
Stemming from the couple’s disappointment in the business world ethically, RuffleButts is built on the golden rule—"do unto others as you would have done unto you," a maxim Amber identifies as "commonsense customer service."
"We operate with gratitude," says Amber. "We run our business everyday in appreciation of our customers, and treat them the way they truly deserve to be treated for their support of us as a company." (Every order from RuffleButts.com is delivered in tissue paper with a handwritten note).
The couple wants to build upon their success—RuffleButts saw a three-year growth rate of 2,145 percent from 2008 to 2011—hoping to make the 15-person company a major player in the children’s wear industry.
"With our incredible customers behind us and our incredible staff beside us, we feel that we can accomplish anything," says Amber.