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Cameron Cruse and Lisa Bradley Founders of R.Riveter
Credit: Courtesy R.Riveter

R.Riveter cofounder Cameron Cruse says it started with a quarter-life crisis. "We found ourselves, like many military spouses do, out in the middle of nowhere with not a whole lot of job opportunities," says Cruse, who lives in Southern Pines, North Carolina. "We realized that it was within our power to change that—not only for ourselves but for other military spouses too." For many, notes cofounder Lisa Bradley, life in the military means relocating every two to three years, and it's difficult for military spouses to find work that moves with them.

So Cruse and Bradley put their heads together and created R.Riveter (rriveter.com), a handbag and home-goods brand that offers meaningful employment for military spouses. It works as a virtual assembly line: "Riveters" across the country are sent raw materials to cut and sew into pieces of the handbags; then they send those elements to be assembled into finished products at facilities in North Carolina and Florida. Each piece of every handbag is stamped with an employee's Riveter number; customers can look up these numbers and read the stories of the people who together made their bags. "

Every day, when we woke up and watched our husbands go off to work, we were incredibly proud of what they were doing for our country and who they were," says Bradley. "Although we were along with them in these sacrifices, restarting our lives every time we moved with our families, we wanted to provide a platform where military spouses can know that they're serving their country too."