In the summer of 2014, fresh from a divorce and living with my parents, I was fairly strapped for cash but still wanted to make a statement on the weekends at the horse shows I was competing at. I had a rather nice barrel racing mare named Josie (East Bound Jet) who provided some residual income for me on the weekends by pulling checks, and I decided to use some of that money to start embellishing my own shirts with Swarovski stones at my mothers kitchen table. Later that fall in October we were going to be competing at the All American Quarter Horse Congress, which was a pretty big deal- its the largest single breed horse show in the world. My mom had sewn me a custom shirt- red, complete with black fringe across the back and down the arms, and of course covered in Swarovski stones. While in the hotel room one night waiting for my boyfriend (now husband) to return from California, I decided I needed some accessories to match this awesome shirt- begin Rhinestone Lipgloss. I created a pair of earrings to match my outfit, and the next day I ran my pattern in them. Quite a few girls came up to me at the show and asked how I was running in earrings so big and heavy (never being a 'Queen' of any kind, I had no idea that heavy earrings were such an awful thing) I pulled them out and handed them over, commenting that they were not heavy at all- and they were shocked. A couple of them even asked to buy them right there! I said no, (I still have the very first pair I made lol) but that I would make them a pair.
After returning home from Congress, I had done some thinking, and clearly there was a market for these- what cowgirl doesn't like bling, and even better, COMFORTABLE bling?! So, with $85 left over from a check that Josie had won for me, I began the paperwork needed to make RL official (NOTE: please pay attention to this part- $85. You do NOT need a business loan or a pile of money to finance your dream- I built this empire with $85; you can build yours too!). I had started a Facebook page a while earlier, but at that time, I thought that RL was going to be more of a 'boutique' style page, reselling accessories, clothing etc. so it was full of that. We set up a booth at a small local rodeo, but the main item of intrigue was my earrings. I had also learned to tool leather, and we had some custom leather pieces available as well, but the earrings, week after week, were becoming more and more popular.
An important piece of information here is that I have a degree in Mandarin Chinese- I graduated from The Ohio State University in 2011, and in the fall of 2014 when this whole adventure started, I was working as a translator in the Tool and Dye industry. My now husband, after seeing how quickly this little hobby of mine had started to grow, watched me lose more and more of my sanity trying to keep up with Facebook orders and my 9-5. "You need to make a decision," he encouraged.
WHAT KIND OF PERSON WALKS AWAY FROM A 9-5 WITH BENEFITS, RETIREMENT, all of the things you need to be "adulting" to attach rhinestones to things? A crazy kind. A brave kind. A kind that knows if she doesn't take the leap, right this very moment, that she will never ever know what might have been.
So, after running some numbers, and seeing that we were just as busy after Christmas as we were before, I leapt. In February of 2015, just 6 months after making myself a pair of earrings to match the shirt my momma made me, I left my "big-girl job" that I had spent an entire college career preparing for, to do what I loved on a daily basis. Best. MOST TERRIFYING. Decision. Ever.
Now its all ancient history. Was it scary? Absolutely. Were there times I thought "Holy Smokes- what did I just do?" Of course. Was it worth it? Times a MILLION.
It's important to be clear that I didn't just do this on a whim- there were months of running numbers, exploring other market potentials, and being as sure as I could (nothing in life is guaranteed, right?!) that it would work. If you would have told me in 2014 that I would design jewelry that would ship all over the world- I would have laughed in your face. Fashion was NOT my forte however, I have learned to surround myself with people that I could learn from. Jewelry and accessories have become a second language (well, third, I still have the Chinese part lol!) to me- and I love it. I will still do custom leather pieces, especially belts (they are my favorite!) as a mental break from the earrings, but my clients have made it clear that the handmade, lightweight earrings are their main priority.
Right now, its still just myself, my mom, and a couple other ladies handling everything; I answer messages, invoice, order inventory, and build every custom pair, they girls are incredibly helpful with website inventory, shipping and keeping our financials in order. We are currently the owners of a 18k sq ft building in adorable and historic downtown Wapakoneta, which I am so grateful for, and i am SO excited to provide a place for our clients to EXPERIENCE our amazing brand. This company is my LIFE. I do not have children, and this is the closest thing to that I will ever have. RL is an obsession, a passion.
I truly believe that you can make a living off of whatever sets your soul on fire. For me, its making things shiny with the best, most high quality stones in the entire world. Here's the secret- you can't just like it. You have to LIVE it. Every single waking moment of every single day there is something in my head about one aspect or another of RL. I still ride, I'm a wife, a daughter, and a friend, but mostly, I'm an entrepreneur. RL is constantly changing. I don't always know what the change is, but I've learned to listen to my clients and follow their lead. If I had made RL into what I wanted/thought it was going to be, I would still be working the same 9-5, setting up a little booth at horse shows and rodeos, making a little bit of extra money. But, because you (my clients) made it clear what you wanted from us, I have been able to mold this into a VERY successful company.