The spirit of Rosie the Riveter, the iconic World War II female worker, is part of the inspiration behind a new company created by two military wives. Jenny Felsen and Kate Marsh Lord, both married to Airmen, own The Rosie Project – a graphic t-shirt business with military-focused messaging. T hey used a combination of prior work experience, unique strengths, and the grit they say is displayed within today’s military spouse to get started.
“At The Rosie Project, we know that in our modern military lifestyle, we are all Rosie. We may not work in shipyards or factories, but we support the military every single day by virtue of being milspouses and milkids,” Marsh Lord said.
The duo met in 2005 while stationed at Spangdahlen Air Force Base. The military eventually took them in separate directions, but the friendship remained. Individually they had each ran small businesses, Marsh Lord had a popular mom blog and Felsen made embroidered clothes for kids. Sometime over a year ago, they began discussing the idea of co-owning a business but decided the timing wasn’t right. Last fall, the online company became a reality.
“The motivation … was always to create a unique set of shirts that speak to the military community with the goal of donating to a military charity,” she said. “We both love and buy graphic tees for us and our kids, but we thought there was a void in the market for shirts that really reflect our taste and the modern military family.”
The apparel they sell is made with the military consumer in mind using the products to share a message. Examples include tees with themes for military children, homecoming, and deployments. The Rosie Project also includes customers in the design process, hosting a contest in May. The winning design, Don’t Count the Days, Make the Days Count, is currently available for purchase online.
Another component of the company is its commitment to supporting the work of others. Currently, a portion of profits goes directly to the American Widow Project – a non-profit organization providing peer-to-peer support for military widows grieving the loss of a spouse in the armed forces.
Similarly, after the recent mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Tampa, The Rosie Project designed a “Love Conquers All” t-shirt and raised over $1,000 in four days for the victims’ fund.
On the Other Side of the World
As most entrepreneurs will admit, no amount of research can prepare business owners for the day-to-day issues that can arise. Marsh Lord, who is currently in Japan, and Felsen, who lives in Georgia, have the added challenge of operating The Rosie Project from separate geographic locations. Thankfully, technology and Facebook allows them to still have ‘face-to-face’ meetings and connecting virtually on a continued basis.
Ripping Up the Resume
Entrepreneurship has become a common path for current military spouses because of its portability. Marsh Lord said it is a natural fit because it adapts to most situations that come with military life.
“A traditional career is really difficult for those of us who follow our husband’s military career and move every couple years,” she said. “The military lifestyle makes us uniquely qualified for successful entrepreneurship– we’re flexible, innovative, creative and up to almost any challenge. Creating a business where we are our own bosses means we have built in room for PCS moves, TDY stress, and forgiveness during day-to-day challenges.”
It has been less than a year since The Rosie Project first opened up shop, but it is filling a niche with few competitors filling the space. The reaction to-date makes them optimistic for what’s ahead.
“We felt strongly that we could offer something unique to families like ours and it’s been really rewarding to see the positive response,” Marsh Lord said. “We’re so grateful and humbled that our friends– and, of course, total strangers– spend their hard earned money on our shirts.”
The Rosie Project has setup a special discount code for Military OneClick readers: save 10% when you enter MOC10 at checkout; good until August 15, 2016.