Here’s how Rosie the Riveter inspired these military spouses

Mar 31, 2018
1 minute read
World War II photo


“Keeps a sharp look out for sabotage, Sitting up there on the fuselage, That little frail can do, more than…
"Keeps a sharp look out for sabotage,

Sitting up there on the fuselage,

That little frail can do, more than a male can do-

Rosie (brrrrrrr) the Riveter."

Thus go the early lyrics for the wildly popular song "Rosie the Riveter." Written in 1943, writers Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb forever immortalized J. Howard Miller's now famous 1942 poster of Rosie the Riveter.

Also read: The 8 most famous US military recruiting posters of World War II

The recruiting poster, commissioned by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, featured Rosie the Riveter, in her blue shirt and red bandana, flexing under the words "We Can Do It."

In 1943, Norman Rockwell would have his version of Rosie, sitting and eating a sandwich, holding a riveting gun — her feet resting on a dirty Mein Kampf poster — published by the "Saturday Evening Post."

Norman Rockwell illustration

Those two images would go on to symbolize the impact of women during World War 2, and on the aviation community as a whole.

In 1943, a stunning 65 percent of the workforce in the U.S. aviation industry were women. Prior to the war? Just 1 percent of the industry was comprised of women.

Though they made up the majority of the workforce, women in the aviation industry made just 50 percent of what men in the same positions made.

Related: 34 things military spouses wish they knew sooner

Today, Rosie is still impacting the military community, as showcased by the company R.Riveter.

R.Riveter, a U.S. company that makes hand bags, was officially launched in 2011 by Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley.

The two Army spouses, struggling under the weight of an unemployment rate 4 times the national average and pay discrepancies somewhere near 38 percent, decided to make the problem work for them instead of against them.

Embodying the spirit of the original Riveters, Cruse and Bradley pooled their limited resources, purchased a sewing machine and some leather, and they set out to impact the military spouse community in a way that had not quite caught on with the military spouse community yet: entrepreneurship and mobile income that did not rely on multi-level-sales techniques.

Despite having no idea how to sew, moving multiple times — to different duty stations in different states — and many telling the women that their idea couldn't succeed, the two women took an idea, a sewing machine, and a cold attic, and they grew it beyond their wildest expectations.

Appearing on Shark Tank in 2016, Cruse and Bradley took R.Riveter, which by then included military spouses around the country sewing and putting together their one of a kind, signature handbags, and partnered with billionaire Mark Cuban.

SHARK TANK – "Episode 719" – Veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs enlist the Sharks' investment.

That year, they saw unprecedented company growth of 735 percent — and overall — in just 6 years, R.Riveter went from an idea to Shark Tank — to one of the fastest growing companies in America.

More: These entrepreneurs survived Shark Tank and share their secrets with vets

Today, R.Riveter is still the company it started as: an experiment in providing mobile, flexible income for military spouses. Or in their words, a company who is "redefining norms."

Katie Foley is a freelance writer and an independent author. She is a work from home mom to three crazy elementary kids and wife to an active duty U.S. Marine. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.