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Women’s movements have, and will continue to change the course of history. Rosie the Riveter was the beginning of one of the most powerful women’s movements of our time. Today, we celebrate the life of a woman who served as the inspiration for the iconic figurehead. In the heat of WWII, 20-year-old Naomi Parker Fraley went to work at the Naval Air Station, in Alameda, CA. She was assigned to a machine shop, where her duties included drilling, patching airplane wings, and riveting. It was in this shop where a newspaper photographer captured a photo of Fraley working, hair tied up in a telltale polkadot headscarf.

photo c/o: TIME

This 1942 photo was likely the inspiration of an American wartime propaganda poster produced by J. Howard Miller for an electric company, intended to be an inspirational image to boost worker morale. The poster was never meant for public display, and had been all but forgotten during WWII. In the early 1980s, a copy resurfaced and "Rosie the Riveter" became a symbol of female strength and empowerment. While it's true that the 1940s depiction of Rosie the Riveter, a woman with a determined expression and a can-do spirit, was inspiring to many - it was a sense of belonging to something much larger that helped provide a rally call – something that still unites women today.  You Can Do It.   This very rally call is what lit a fire under two military spouses who started a movement to empower modern day women who have similar strength and might, similar determination and grit, and similar heart and soul as those who kept our country moving forward in WWII.   The “Rosies” and “Riveters”, as they are called at R.Riveter, are doing more than simply making parts and pieces of American Handmade bags in their homes across the country. Their strength and spirit is magnified by a connection to dozens, hundreds, thousands of other military spouses just like them. Proud. Determined. Honorable. R.Riveter has a company “saying” that binds the era of WWII with today in a few short words. It’s a shorthand expression, a rally cry to go along with the iconic image and name, R.Riveter. Of many, One. We are stronger together than we are apart. We can do it.   The passing of Naomi Parker Fraley touches all of us at R.Riveter. The legendary icon Naomi inspired, Rosie the Riveter, drove our founders to take action, creating a movement to empower modern day women across the nation.  While Riveters of WWII entered factories to help the country in a time of need, today, R. Riveter is working to bring the same income opportunities home to the modern day women. 

 

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It is literally taking everything in me right now to sit here and be still. As a new mother to a dashing 5 month old baby boy life doesn’t hand out many of these moments. I’ve found you have to be intentional and strategic about finding ways to steal away time for yourself. So here I am sitting next to the fireplace in complete SILENCE (yes, can you believe it?!) reflecting on this whirlwind of a year that has left me feeling overwhelming grateful.

It all started last October when I found out 2 weeks before my husband deployed with the Air Force that I was pregnant. We hadn’t been trying for very long but somehow I had a peace that it would happen, and that I would be living alone without him for the majority of it. Looking back that 7 months apart seriously flew right by in a flash. But back then everything was raw and time stood still in the days and weeks after he left. My hormones and the holidays were in full swing and I went about making them as festive as my tired self allowed. Which pretty much consisted of a tiny artificial tree that sat atop a chest by the window. Because you gotta give yourself grace, right?! January rolled right around and it didn’t feel any closer to May. The snow was falling outside our tiny little PNW apartment and I started daydreaming about what it would be like to have our own space. Like where you didn’t share walls with chain smokers or hike up 3 flights of stairs to get to the tiny little space you overpay for. I mean how incredible would it be to jump on the floor and crank up the bass on your surround sound system without a care in the world?! In the 9 years of our marriage we’ve always rented little spaces like this. But with a baby on the way and big changes ahead I knew we needed something better. Our very own HOME.

I prayed hard. Owning a house just seemed too good to be true. But again that peace settled in and I went about finding a team to help me through this intimidating process. The thought of having our own space motivated me every single day to do the painstakingly tedious process of searching. But God brought me right to the most incredible team of people who not only gave me tremendous wisdom during the entire process but became family. Even our lender was a long time buddy of my husband back in his Army days! Let me tell you that God planed every step of the way and gave me strength to walk every one despite the fears and emotional run arounds that came with the home buying process. We started our search in January and closed on the cutest single story home in April! Just in the nick of time before baby’s arrival in July and my husband’s homecoming in May! Now the part I dreaded most of all. Moving out of our apartment on the 3rd floor without my husband, 6 months pregnant. I was terrified. What if I couldn’t get anyone to help? I didn’t want to beg but I was seriously desperate for help. For the thousandth time I found myself at God’s mercy and waited for Him to show up and do something amazing. And. He. Did.

Not only did the help show up but everyone got me moved out and into the new place in less than 3 hours! A fury of bodies and boxes and a dozen strong guys and we were done. I am forever grateful for the family and friends who helped this petite pregnant lady in a time of need. Now to hurry up and wait for Derek’s homecoming.

Flash forward to May and I’m sitting in the cell phone waiting lot at the airport awaiting the pick up call from my guy! I’ll never forget his reactions when he walked into our HOUSE for the first time and just stood there in amazement. We were together and we were home.

I swear life just moved at an outrageous pace as we tried adjusting to all the new changes and the  pending arrival of our son. July 1st came and our hospital bags were packed. Nothing prepared us for the long labor and short NICU stay after he was born on the 6th, but the joy we experienced when we brought him home for the first time was unforgettable. And here we are 5 months later with our Charley in our new home celebrating the holidays TOGETHER. The dust is still settling but our hearts are full. Thanking God for the many moments and ways He has taken care of us in 2017 and for the new adventures and stories I’ll get to share in 2018. And maybe more mommy time and quiet moments like this? A girl can dream.

 

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What American Made Means To Me

I am the daughter of a seamstress; the granddaughter of a baker. Our family has a strong legacy of creating with our hands. We know the process that makes something taste so good, fit like a glove, or last for generations because our blood is thick with the legacy of artisans.

Growing up around this mindset resulted in me graduating with a degree in clothing and textile design. I love the feel of quality fabric, the look of beautiful stitching, and the transformation of nothing to something breathtaking.

Fashion that means something has always been at the forefront of my mind. That being said, I think we can all agree that in today’s world, it’s hard to break the cycle of disposable fashion (or disposable anything, really).

Perhaps this is why R. Riveter stood out to me when I first saw them on Shark Tank. I loved that they had bags made from repurposed military materials and products assembled by the spouses of military families—hard working American women.

They are truly a brand on a mission. And the products speak for themselves.

When I first got my bag in the mail I was a little worried that the online/TV quality wasn’t going to translate, but I was not disappointed. The brass details, leather, and canvas were all signs of a bag well made. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve used my Otto every day since I unboxed it.

It’s the perfect bag for taking to the office, going out with friends, and I even took it as a carry-on during my last backpacking trip to Morocco, Spain, England and Iceland.

With each of these bag you can feel the authenticity, you can see that it’s intentional; they are built to stand the test of time. Of course there are other products floating around in this space, but what is their purpose? Why are they being made?

The R.Riveter brand stands for something more. It’s not only building products, but lives. As an artist, the intentionality of R. Riveter’s products speaks to my mind. As a woman, and as an American, the products speak to something so much more.

2017 showed us the importance of building up and supporting each other, and the community that R. Riveter is building, one bag at a time, is such a unique and beautiful way of speaking to that.

As an ambassador, I’m able to show my support for this brand in such a unique and beautiful way. And the community that I’ve gained by doing so has added so much to my life.

While not directly being a military spouse, I have a long line of men and women in my family who have served, and are currently serving in the Army, Navy and National Guard.

Supporting this legacy of almost 50 years, and the current dedication and sacrifice of my family members, ties me to R. Riveter in a very personal way. American made, to me, means supporting a national community when we need it the most—and it starts from the sewing machines of military spouses.

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Everyone has that accessory they grab almost without thinking. For me, the R.Riveter Wristlet has become just that. I want to introduce you to newest my go to on-the-go accessory! From family fun day, business events, holiday parties the R.Riveter Wristlet does it all!

The Bigger The Better

Since having my Kiddies I have become that girl. You know. The big bag kinda girl. I need to carry everything for everyone and that means the bigger the bag the better. That's where my Otto comes in on. Still sometimes a girl just wants to look well - cute.

Get My Cute On

I'm still a girly-girl and there are times when I want to be cute, dainty and compact. The R.Riveter Wristlet fills this need perfectly. Small enough to carry on a date night, errand run or to the latest Holiday party but functional enough to keep whatever I need from lipsticks and business cards to sanitizer and keys. 

Had To Have it

I grabbed up my camel wristlet on my very first visit to the R.Riveter Flagship Store in Southern Pines. I was super excited to see the store where it all started. I had to have it. After walking around and trying on several different colors I settled on the camel. It's the perfect neutral and goes with anything. *Plus now I have an excuse to go back for the other colors.

On-The-Go

The R.Riveter Wristlet is the first thing I grab when I know I have a day of family fun at the arcade, movies, shopping or simply running errands. 

This Size Fits All

Now remember when I said the bigger the better? Well don't let this little bag mislead you. I could hardly believe it when I first switched over. This big bag girl was beyond surprised to say: it all fits! 

Go To

See that?!? That's no ordinary wristlet!! That's why the R.Riveter Wristlet has become my go to on-the-go accessory. It fits all I need while I stay cute and stylish at the same time.

Now that I've told you about the awesomeness don't forget to check out those other amazing colors I told you about SHOP HERE

 

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What I have learned this year?   This year has been full of many changes for me as a military spouse.  My name is Kelly and I am USCG spouse (Coasties!) and Navy brat (E2C’s rule!).  We recently moved from Rhode Island to Virginia for my husband’s new assignment.  I’m writing this actually among cardboard boxes, which I’m starting to think not only make great Christmas decorations but double as counter space.  

I am a former Special Agent for over 13 years. Working as an agent, presented it’s own challenges being a female in a predominantly male oriented career.  I also had to decide on remaining in my career.  I knew from the moment I met my husband my position wouldn’t be flexible with the moves and changes the CG had in store for us (and believe it or not, I was gone traveling much more than my husband).  Now, I am back into the job market with a whole new set of challenges as I realize the parts of my career I loved versus what didn’t work. It’s always strange when I tell people what I used to do and usually their first question is “Do you miss it?”  What I miss is my old coworkers, travel, and relationships.  I had to make a tough choice of my husband or my particular career.  I was at the point I had accomplished what I set out to do from day one.  I was one of three females in my class when I went to the academy.  I had completed training I know I would never have access to again. The hardest thing in life sometimes is knowing when it is time to move on to different adventures.  R.Riveter has opened my eyes to other women in all different tracks of life those with kids, moves, wedding planning, and different branches of service.   Some of my fellow brand ambassadors just crack me up and I love reading what they are up to, how they deal with the day to day, what it’s like having kids, etc.  I encourage anyone that wants to know what a military spouse is made of check out some of the Brand Ambassadors.  We come from all walks of life.  Some aren’t in the military but have an equal passion for military spouses and the R.Riveter brand.  That’s what life is about.  As Ernest Hemingway said,

 

I chose the trip with my husband and I don’t regret that adventure one bit.

 

 



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As I walked the hallways of the emergency room, I could hear the distant sounds of a dispatch radio, "47 year old M, cardiac arrest. En route. ETA 10 min". A couple of months ago I was reading about these cases, my notes on advanced cardiac life support flashed before my eyes. My attending doctor pointed towards the double doors and in came the patient, unconscious, surrounded by a sea of paramedics, nurses, and family members. Crying, wailing, vitals signs, the patient's past medical history being recited by paramedics-all of them intermixed with the beeping sounds of machines like a carefully orchestrated musical. Controlled chaos. After a couple rounds of CPR, shocks, medications, we had to intubate. I prepared the tools. 

My hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. I held the laryngoscope in the wrong hand, rookie mistake. I couldn't quite get the mouth open or the laryngoscope in the right spot, second rookie mistake. I struggled for seconds, which seemed like hours. I looked up at the doctor wanting to wave a white flag. Was I really ready to do this? With lots of guidance, I completed my first successful intubation and in the end we saved the patient's life.

 

 

 

The most memorable moments are both exhilarating yet terrifying. As a student, I've learned a lot of medicine this year, but I've mostly learned about the importance of making mistakes - learning from them, reassessing flaws, and ultimately growing as a person. New situations are intimidating - career changes, relocations, new business endeavors, new procedures (haha) - but the best way to tackle them is head on. Overcome the fear of making a mistake, looking silly, being wrong. The truth is that the best lessons rattle your world, they might even hurt your ego a little, and that's OK. The importance of failure comes in pondering what went wrong and adjusting accordingly. That's not to say you plan for failure, but be flexible in your approach to your goal. Commit to learning from mistakes, do not dwell on them, and you're assured to grow. 

Besides this, I've learned the value of work-life balance. There's a common saying among students, "Eat, sleep, breathe medicine." It goes to show our dedication, but I've come to realize that this strict dedication is also unhealthy. Yes we commit to our work and patients, but we must also commit to our own health and happiness. In the pile of deadlines, assignments, projects, it is important to focus on our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing as well. So, while medicine takes up most of my life, I've learned that I must also make time for other activities I enjoy - a good book & a cup of coffee, traveling, hiking, and yoga. Yes work-life is important, but take time to enjoy yourself and spend time with loved ones - parents, siblings, significant other, pets. 

 

 

 

 

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There has been a beautiful shift in the world of trying to build a village. A place of encouragement and unbridled support, a construct of community that aims to nurture. No matter who you are, a sense of belonging is more than just logging in to social media and checking statuses. R. Riveter has formed a community of women that I not only feel close to, but I feel as though I have found my kindred spirits.

I grow up as a daughter of Air Force parents. My dad left the service when my sister was born to not only be an incredible father, but also an amazing military spouse. My mom, the history maker, served for 20 years as an Air Force pilot. Not only was in a minority for her position in the service, she was also in the first class of females at the Air Force Academy. Though we moved from place to place, new bases and new faces never seemed to lack an air of community and most importantly, home.

Riveter shares in that beautiful characteristic, a feeling of home. Not only are their products made by spouses of military personnel, but the allow for a community to be built around common ground. Being a brand ambassador for R. Riveter allows me not only to connect with women that share experiences and life lessons with me, it allows me to open up and to share with others. I'm a mother, a wife, a daughter. While I may not have every facet of my being in common with the amazing women who are part of this community, we share what matters. A passion for our families. A love for our country. A want to give back.

 

I love being stopped and asked where I got my purse. I always smile and say,

Without fail, I receive on of two answers- a resounding heck yes or a sense of interest in secret not yet told. I pull out one of my R. Riveter postcards and after probably much longer than the askee and I anticipated, I have a discount code in their hand and a smile on both our faces. The connection to military isn't just from family serving. It's from your best friend in high school, your friend's husband who enlisted after deciding to switch careers, your neighbor down the road. Military life is a choice folks make with a full heart, fully knowing what is in store. Sharing that sense of honor with those you are close with is just one of the perks.

 

So, with that ramble, yes. I love being a brand ambassador for R. Riveter. I have pride in what I was chosen to represent. I have the privilege to work with an amazing brand, with women who inspire me and show me daily how to be a good human. I am beyond honored to share this title with a handful of ladies who deserve nothing less than the world.  

 

 

 

 

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During the holidays it is easy to take for granted the family that surrounds us. Thousands of families will be celebrating Christmas while loved ones are far away fighting a war. I am lucky to have my husband home this year as so many will be missing their soldiers.

I can say I have been very fortunate to be able to spend every holiday with my family since I was born. Every Christmas I ask my grandfather, who will be 95 in February, about Christmas during the war. 

Even far from home, servicemen and women during World War II often tried to celebrate the holidays as best as they could.

My grandfather was drafted in March of 1943, along with all four of his brothers who served in WWII. As a heavy-equipment operator my grandfather was eventually shipped overseas when the Allied Forces took Okinawa and the Philippines.

 

 

There was no snow for my grandfather in December of 1944. Stationed in the Philippines on the island of Leyte my grandfather along with his best friend tried their hardest to make it back to base for Chapel Service on Christmas Eve. Traveling up the mountain to take some equipment to the other side of the island was the plan for them that day. The narrow road was the main passage on the island, and it was designated for one way traffic at different periods of the day. Unfortunately, my grandfather's convoy was turned away, leaving them with no place to go.

 

Instead my grandfather and his friend, along with the other vehicle of comrades waited in their truck for the convoy traveling in the opposite direction.

 

Once they made it back to the camp, the service was already over. He missed his chance to sing familiar hymns and carols with his comrades. Another solider had saved the Church Program for my grandfather. The Church was a makeshift chapel were Palm leaves were tied in bunches and hung outside the bamboo hut. In the replace of pew there were empty fuel cans which had been painted. White cloth covered a board creating an altar, a rickety table bared a cross. My grandfather took a seat on one of those painted fuel cans and read through the words the chaplain had typed in the program,

The program now frayed, dingy and yellow sits in my grandfather wooden keepsake box along with his other war photos.

 

 

 

 

Even though it has been 7 decades since he stood with his buddies fighting for this American mission it still brings tears to his eyes when he thinks about being away from home during Christmas. For him, as well as the rest of the family, the emotions are strong.

 

 

 

As I spend another Christmas with the family I am thankful for the sacrifices my grandfather has made as well as my husband continues to make for so many, so many who get to spend the holidays with their loved ones. During this Holiday season be sure to cherish the moments you have with your family and friends. Make memories that will last a lifetime and remember to think of all of the men and women who do not get to be at home this year.

                                                              Photo: Courtney Zenner Photography

 

 

 

 

 

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Every year, our family participates in the great Christmas migration and we pay a ton of money to fly home and spend it with our loved ones.

As a military family, "home" is wherever Mom and Dad are.

To us, home is more than just a physical structure.  Home is where we feel safe and secure. Home is where we feel warm. Home is where we can let loose and go crazy or chill after an incredibly long day. Home is also where you eat...a lot.

My oldest kid is almost six and he's already called five different places "home". My friend said to him

and he said "No, not really. I like living wherever my mom and dad are." *cue the "aww"* I used to call Chicago "home" when my parents lived there, but now that both my parents and my husbands parents are living in Las Vegas.. that's home now.  

 

Both my husband and I are first generation Filipino. That means, our parents immigrated from the Philippines and had us here in the US. Our culture runs deep and over the years we've established sort of a hybrid Christmas of Filipino and American Traditions. We both have Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Christmas cards, and the traditional Christmas carols.

Filipinos are incredibly religious but also incredibly flamboyant and over the top. So go figure our Christmas celebrations start in September and end in January. Christmas carols, decorations, lights, nativity scenes- all of that come out in September. Christmas shopping is done from September until December. In America, you get chastised by the social media warriors if you post anything Christmas related before Halloween. So our Christmas celebration begins on November 1st- that's when all our Christmas decorations come out and Jingle Bells is substituted by The Monster Mash.

There are these traditional Filipino lanterns called Parol. It's a lantern in the shape of a five pointed star. It's made of bamboo and colorful paper. They're incredibly gaudy and loud but have morphed into some more modern silhouettes. We couldn't find any Parol in America, but finding a tree topper that sort of resembled it paid homage to our Filipino roots.  

In the Philippines there is a series of nine midnight masses starting on December 16th until December 24th. There is a belief that if you attend mass all nine nights, then you'll be granted a special wish by The Big Man Upstairs. Since there is only midnight mass on Christmas Eve night, we go then and just accept the fact we won't get our special wish!

 Filipinos loooooove to sing. So of course, there is Christmas caroling during the Christmas season. Sometimes kids get together to fundraise for something and sing in a neighborhood. But most of the time its bored siblings getting together with their guitars and tambourines singing for the neighbors in exchange for Christmas present money. After, they sing or dance their "thanks". Since it's not really in the American culture to go door to door singing in exchange for cash, we basically limit our singing to our TV and a Magic Mic (karaoke). On Christmas Eve/Christmas night, we have sing offs where each person "buys ins", sings the round, and whoever gets the highest karaoke score wins the pot! No we're not very good and we don't use our winnings to buy Christmas gifts, but it's a good time! 

In the Philippines we have a tradition of Noche Buena. Where you eat an incredibly fancy meal at midnight or after midnight mass. In our family, we morphed it into a HUGE and fancy Christmas Eve Dinner (where you basically eat from 5PM until 11PM- wear something stretchy!), go to midnight mass, then come home have a snack then go to bed. The Filipino Christmas spread has lechon (roasted pig), pancit, lumpia, shrimp, rice, sweet rice cakes, ham, fruit salad, and looooots of drinks. Sometimes the kids can make it and we open presents after midnight mass, but that tradition has dwindled since everyone in the family gets super duper tired at 8PM and we have to try and power through the rest of the evening.

 On Christmas Day, we also follow the Filipino tradition of visiting our older relatives and godparents. After we open presents, we get dressed up in our "Sunday Best" and have Christmas breakfast, Christmas brunch/lunch, and a Christmas dinner each at a different relative's house. Yes, we do eat all day. When we enter the house we show respect with 'mano' where the younger person grabs the elder's hand, and touches it to their forehead. It's a sign of respect. We use this gesture even when it's not Christmas time. This is our kids favorite because they get to hang out with their cousins, show their aunts/uncles/older relatives/godparents their cool new toys, AND they get lots of money from the elders.

Our hearts and our bellies (no joke!) are full on Christmas. The adult's wallets are empty and the kids wallets are full. I love how our little family evolved and fused our traditional Filipino customs with modern American ones. So from my family to yours, Maligayang Pasko- Merry Christmas, I hope you love being home for the holidays!

 

 

 

 

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