By
The Cycle
updated 5/4/2013 1:47:43 PM ET 2013-05-04T17:47:43

Two military wives started a small business to help other military families find employment.

“Together we have been partnering to do everything in our power to help our veterans and military families find the jobs they need and deserve,” First Lady Michelle Obama said during a Joining Forces event on Tuesday. “Today is simply just a mile marker, and we’re not going to stop until every, single veteran or military spouse that is searching for a job has found one.”

In less than two years America’s businesses have met President Obama’s challenged to hire or train veterans and military spouses. America’s business have followed through hiring 290,000 veterans or military spouses and they have pledged to hire or train another 435,000 in the next five years.

Two women, Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse, have taken Obama’s mission into their own hands, creating jobs for their fellow military spouses who move on average every two and a half years. “Cameron and I were in the same position as so many other military spouses find themselves in. That’s the inability to find employment every time we move in the military,” Lisa Bradley says. “We find that our military spouse friends are just giving up on their career goals and aspirations and we didn’t want to accept that circumstance. We wanted to take something that’s hard in this military lifestyle and make it a positive.”

Their company R. Riveter employs military spouses to make and sell handbags that are handmade from military materials. “All of our bags are made out of recycled military materials. Whether that’s blankets or tents or old uniforms. And the wonderful thing about that is it brings a sort of history of character to each product,” Cameron Cruse explains. “So everybody that buys from our riveter gets something so unique and full of pride and emotion and it is something that you can really be proud of.”

The woman, or Rosies as they call themselves after the famous World War II Rosies, assemble, promote, and independently sell these bags. The key to the operation is that these woman can take their work from post to post as they move with the military.”Whether you want to be an account rep for us, or a small-time Rosie and want to do it part time, we’re just really trying to provide multiple process of employment,” Cruse says.

Marking their one year anniversary the ladies are very happy with the way business has progressed. “The response has been phenomenal because everyone can connect with our river on some kind of facet,” Bradley says. “Whether it’s the recycle old materials that we use in the handbags or us trying to help military spouses and we are also trying to redefine what it means to be American handmade.”

Video: Military wives create jobs for fellow military spouses

  1. Closed captioning of: Military wives create jobs for fellow military spouses

    >>> together we have been partnering to do everything in our power to help the veteran and military families to find the jobs they need and deserve. these efforts are about so much more than a paycheck. this is about giving these men and women a source of identity and purpose. i am thrilled to announce that in less than two years, america's businesses have hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses.

    >> first lady this week nousing significant progress on one of her signature projects, helping military veterans and their spouses get training and joks. we want to introduce you to two women taking that jobs into their own hands. creating jobs for their fellow military spouses. their company, r. riveter after the famous world war ii rosies. to make and sell handbags. they are hand made from upcycled military materials. think canvas tents, leather parts of uniform and they're named after famous military spouses. riveters make the bags and they sell them as independent sales reps. the key to this operation, riveters and rosies can take from their work from post to post as they move with the military. lisa and cameron join us at the table. we've kicked the other two out so that we can have you here. let me set the scene here, lisa . i'm up at cornell university , my alma mater visiting with my cousin matt. i notice molly's bag. and i ask her, where did you get this fabulous bag. and she told me your story because you were also there and your husband is a grad student at cornell as well. long story short, i loved your story and decided we had to get you on. i want to hear more about it. how did you come up with this idea?

    >> well, cameron and i were in the same position as so many other military spouses find themselves in. that's the inability to find employment every time we move with the military. and military spouses move on average every two and a half years. that's ten time more frequent than our civilian counterparts. so we find that our military spouse friends are giving up on their career goal and aspirations and we didn't want to accept that circumstance. we wanted to take something that's hard in this military lifestyle and make it a positive. we started out small. we started out in her attic. and just grew from there.

    >> it is amazing. this is a small business story. a veterans story. also a family story. because we know the toll that these campaigns take. not only on our soldiers and veterans but on their families. when you're doing this, how does this work, this bag? what is it made out of?

    >> all of our bag are made from recycled military materials. whether it is blankets or tents or old uniforms. and the wonderful thing about that is it brings a sort of history and character to each product. each bag. so everybody that buys from our riveter gets something so unique and full of pride and emotion and it is something that you can really be proud of.

    >> and start to finish, how long does it take these bags. start to finish, how long does it take to make a bag? tell us about the process.

    >> of course. everything is hand dyed. this tent was hand dyed by a military spouse as well as all the leather. we use a very high-quality leather, and i would say the process would be -- we do it in small batches so a couple of days per small batch . so it's a very artisianal product.

    >> is this an avon model, you have the bags made, and women sell them wherever they are?

    >> correct. our spouses, we don't have that many like avon, we wnted it to be a little more special. we have rosies, independent sales kroters throughout the united states and take it with them. the idea behind our company is mobile employment.

    >> that's great.

    >> we've seen the unemployment rate is higher for returning veterans but also for military spouses for the reasons you were mentioning, lisa . i think 26% by some estimates. how does this business model sort of jump over the hurdles that those people would usually face?

    >> well, the -- cameron , you can probably answer that one better.

    >> you can take it with you whenever you go. whether or not you want to be an account rep for us or want to be a small-time rosie and want to do it part time , we're just really trying to provide multiple facets of employment and --

    >> those people, if they move to a different base, they don't have to reapply, they keep that job and that role?

    >> uh-huh.

    >> that's great. and what kind of success yhave you seen? i think it's your anniversary, is that --

    >> correct.

    >> how's business been?

    >> the response has been phenomenal. i think everyone can connect with our riveter, on some facet, whether materials we use in the handbags or helping military spouses. we're trying to redefine what it means to be american handmade.

    >> if someone is the home is watching can they buy the bags not only to support the troops but because they think they're good looking bags? is that a good reason to buy?

    >> it's an ornate reason to buy.

    >> you didn't know when you saw it.

    >> i had no idea. we were having dinner. i saw this bag on her. i thought, wow that is good looking. and was shocked to hear the whole story about it and just -- i said, you got to be kidding me. this is right in my wheelhouse, up my alley. let's get these girls on. absolutely love what you do. we love the bags. go to ourriveter.com. contribute to a good cause. get a great looking handbag. support military spouses and military wives. and lisa , cameron , thanks so much for being here.

    >> thank you so much for having us. this is an amazing opportunity for us.

    >> oh, it's our pleasure.

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