Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse: The Professional Perks of Being a Military Wife

January 15 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Moving is No Fun

One of my acquaintances is a military wife and small business owner…with four kids under the age of 10. I wonder how she does it. After all, being a military wife often means you accept change that’s out of your control, like moving around frequently, and leaving family and friends behind. A military wife will have days where she feels like a single parent, days full of worry, days full of missed anniversaries and birthdays and milestones. Some women say being a military wife pushes them to be more independent, to appreciate small moments, to cultivate strength they never thought was possible.


Part of that moving around bit isn’t just difficult because you have to make your five-piece sectional fit in a third-floor apartment. Military wives fight for paternity leave and childcare, and they deal with financial burdens. Moving is hard on women because, in case you didn’t know, trying to find a job as a military wife is tough, particularly when your resume is littered with a dozen six-month gigs. The average unemployment rate for this demographic is more than 4 times higher than the average in the United States.

WOMEN TO WATCH: Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse, Co-founders of R.Riveter

Life as a military wife has always been hard, but it appears there’s no better time than now to be part of this community. With online resources that help you build a community of like-minded women and social media keeping you connected with friends you’ve made all over the world, there’s a lot to be thankful for in 2019. Another perk? Flexible employment for military wives, courtesy of the website R.Riveter. Today’s Women to Watch, Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse, formed R.Riveter after becoming friends when both of their husbands were stationed in Georgia.

Lisa grew up in a small Rocky Mountain town and then went on to study business and entrepreneurship in grad school. Then, she fell in love. Over the course of six years, Lisa and her Army husband called four duty stations home. Her co-founder Cameron also has a Master’s, only in Architecture. That background has given Cameron a penchant for creative design.

And so, these smarties combined their ideas to form R.Riveter, a curated marketplace that employs nearly two dozen military wives who work both in the storefront and warehouse, as well as remotely. From trade shows to word of mouth, the public responded to the bags R.Riveter employees made. Not only that, but military wives responded to the flexible opportunity: so much so that 1,000 people are now on the waitlist to join the biz.

While the two women started it in 2011, R.Riveter didn’t turn into a full-time career until they created a Kickstarter campaign to fund it and pitched it on the popular show Shark Tank. They started by each investing their own $2,000, selling five bags to make 10 bags, and then 10 to make 20.

The wives they employ who work remotely usually just need a sewing machine to make items, like R.Riveter’s signature black canvas and leather backpacks, totes and purses. Need proof that this company’s made by women and for women? I introduce you to their belt bag, a stylish mix of handbag and fanny pack that’s both sophisticated and convenient.

We, as a society, tend to underestimate women. We underestimate being a wife. Lisa and Cameron prove that you can be in love and still be self-sufficient; you can follow your husband’s career and still pursue your own.

Are you interested in getting your feet wet in the startup world, too? Check out Cameron Cruse’s four tips for the bootstrapping entrepreneur by clicking here or, if you’re listening via podcast, head over to!


Cameron Cruse said:

"Maybe go out and learn more, try more, risk more, do more. It hasn't failed me yet."

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