Military spouses provide strength and support to their service members, enabling their husbands and wives to serve our country to the best of their ability. But that support often comes at the expense of the military spouse’s own career.
On average, military families move every 2.9 years, which makes finding and keeping employment difficult for many military spouses.
In fact, more than six in 10 of military spouses are concerned with finding full- or part-time work outside the home, and when they are employed, military spouses make less than their non-military peers. That leaves more than eight in 10 of military families concerned about their finances.
Enter R. Riveter.
Founded in 2011 by military spouses Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse and headquartered in Southern Pines, R. Riveter’s mission is to create stable employment opportunities for military spouses by making and selling high quality, American-made handbags and other goods. In addition to 37 full-time staff, the company contracts with 36 military spouses across the country—called Riveters in homage to the iconic Rosie the Riveter—to craft pieces of the handbags from their homes.
Bradley says she and co-founder Cruse have worked hard to build a business model that provides flexibility, independence, and a culture of “family first,” regardless of what “family” means to each employee and contractor.
For Riveters, who are provided with materials for the goods they make but use their own equipment and work from home, that means working during children’s naptimes, in car pick-up lines, or whenever is most convenient, Bradley says. For employees, that means R. Riveter’s workplace culture is one that embraces employees’ family lives.
“Just knowing that you’re coming to work with a lot of other individuals who put family first is comforting,” Bradley says. “For instance, I think in other employment situations, you would be concerned about taking a work phone call with a kid in the background. But that happens here, and it’s no problem. We’d rather have you plug in without having to worry or stress about it. And that keeps the work moving more effectively and efficiently, too.”
On top of culture, telecommuting has been highly successful for the company. Though R. Riveter has a flagship store in Southern Pines and manufacturing and warehouse facilities in West End, many of the company’s full-time positions are remote, and employees can plug
in from wherever they are.
To make remote working successful, Bradley says employees have a shared digital calendar, which employees are encouraged to use and update frequently.
“If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist,” she says. The company also looks for employees who are self-starters and can work forward without a lot of supervision.
R. Riveter’s culture and flexibility have allowed the company to recruit highly qualified individuals who, as a result of their military lifestyle, may not otherwise be able to find employment.
“If I didn’t have R. Riveter, I would be unemployed,” says Cheryl Duckett, an executive assistant who’s worked for R. Riveter for nearly six years.
Since starting at R. Riveter, Duckett, who is currently stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, says she’s moved twice and will move again in March.
After a stint as a stay-at-home mom when her three sons—now 11, 9, and 8—were younger, Duckett says it’s been so rewarding to find work she loves that allows her the chance to use her background in accounting and provides the flexibility to care for her family as needed.
“I had a sick child today who needed to stay home. If I had an office outside the home, I would have had to take a day off. But since my office is right around the corner, I can work. That’s a huge, huge thing,” Duckett says.
For Bradley, having people on staff like Duckett, who has “single-handedly developed the finance committee” is proof that the R. Riveter system works.
For Duckett, knowing that her job will move with her wherever she goes is invaluable and has allowed her to feel like she can have a meaningful career, which is something that makes both her and her family proud.
“My kids and husband now see me in a different light. I’ve got a say in this company and where it’s going, and they notice that,” she says.
Sample Benefits – R. Riveter:
- Flexible schedules and remote work opportunities
- Paid time off for full-time employees, with the ability to borrow from future PTO for up to 40 hours each year
- An employee discount program
- Military leave, medical leave, personal leave, pregnancy and parental leave, jury duty leave, and bereavement leave.