America is a wonderful place, it is known as a land of opportunities. However, there is a cost to the freedom that we have. The cost is mostly borne by our brave soldiers who fight for the country, and even laying down their lives for it. However, it isn’t easy to stay away from family and not knowing whether you will ever see them again. The same goes for the family. This is what Military Apparel Company is all about. It is about helping the families to cope with the circumstances. They do this by converting the uniforms into various items, which the families can proudly wear to remind them of the sacrifices. The story gets even more interesting when this company is actually run by a person who landed on the shores 11 years ago in search of a new start and a better life.
So, join us, as we interview Eve Baum from MilitaryApparelCompany.com about her journey from being a single mother to launching her own business, and in the process achieving the American Dream.
When did you formally launch the business?
The business was launched back in September 2005.
What was the inspiration behind it?
At the early age of 5, I began sewing and creating, a passion shared through my grandmother and upon which I later chose to build a career. However, things became clear as Maj. Dan Carroll of the United States Army requested that I convert his uniforms into handbags and accessories as gifts for his mother and sister. I gladly and speedily designed two handbags and two change purses using the fabric, patches and buttons; and the results were phenomenal. This is how Military Apparel Company came to be.
Incidentally, I also met and fell in love with a truly special soldier, Sergeant Jeremy Baum, during this assignment, completing my American dream of having a business and a family.
Establishing a supply chain and reaching out to customers is one of the most difficult things for a startup. And in your case, people are likely to have a high degree of emotional attachment. How has the process been for you both as a company and personally?
Our creations serve as a personal, constant reminder of loved ones that have just returned, are presently serving, or have sacrificed their lives defending our country. We do this by creating custom, meaningful bags and accessories crafted from personal military uniforms while giving back to the Military and their families.
Here are some of my favorite testimonials:
“What’s there not to say? Military Apparel Company makes the best quality items and constructs beautifully handmade custom creations for all military members. It’s the top-of-its-class business for military themed accessories.” Jason
“The camo bears and military blankets are perfect!!!! Tears streaming down my face as my little girl hugs her teddy and quilt made from her daddy’s uniforms. Please pass my love and gratitude to your team!!” Aimee
Networking is important in the business world, but especially for startups. Has it helped you develop as an entrepreneur?
Networking has played an essential part, initially without even my knowing about it.
When I moved to the United States 11 years ago, I found that I had a talent for making handbags. I started giving them out as gifts to my friends. A close friend hosted a party for her friends to come and see/buy my handbags. Selling a bag for the first time made me ecstatic! The next few people who bought bags spread the word to family, friends, and strangers. Word of mouth was my only source of marketing initially.
Actually, I hadn’t even noticed I had a business. That is, until a news reporter called in hopes of interviewing me! That was my first real publicity, and from there, my business took off into Maeva Design to my current business, Military Apparel Company. We were featured on Fox and Friends in NYC and that took our business from local to national even international. We also had the chance to be featured in People Magazine and many other news outlets over the years. It is great to build new customers and also build a reputation.
Social media is essential for increasing outreach. Has it played an important part for Military Apparel Company?
Word of mouth does a big part in marketing my business for me. But there is another part? I use social media a lot: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, Amazon, Twitter, and of course, my website. I also send out newsletter-emails to subscribers. I offer great customer service. I don’t take my customers for granted, and I now call lots of my customers dear friends- because they are!
What are your plans for the future? Will you be expanding further?
I am in the process of designing a new Spring Collection and I am very excited about it. I am also working on a side non-profit project called Battle Buddy Key chains. I am so thrilled about this partnership with a USAF vet. We will be focusing on what works and offering new and different things to keep our customers coming back to us.
Lastly, there are many entrepreneurs out there who are struggling to bring their products to the market. What advice do you have for them?
Our mission is to change the world one creation at the time. We provide more than a product. Product focused companies die in today’s world. You must care- truly care. And be good enough to make it transpire on social media. Read the testimony section of our website to see how we have impacted our customers’ life. My customers feel like they are part of a family and they are. From driving 4 hours to go and help a Fallen Hero’s wife and her daughter to move after her husband’s death to listening to another Fallen Hero’s wife telling me her story all evening on the live chat on our website… This is why I am so passionate about my mission: my company. We offer products but we care about the stories.
My advice to Starting Entrepreneurs is to focus on one specific dream. Go for it with all your heart. Fuel your business with what makes your heart tick. Be passionate. Work extremely hard. Most importantly treat your customers like GOLD. All great opportunities have been referred to us by existing over-the-moon happy customers, including being featured in People Magazine. You must be willing to be flexible. If your plan A doesn’t work, re-adjust and follow plan B. Shoot for the stars. And remember you will be calling all the good shots (which is amazingly rewarding), but you will be calling the bad shots as well (but rest assure that you will have the satisfaction to say you followed your dream and tried hard!)