064: Sarah Ford, Founder of Ranch Road Boots

Welcome to Episode 064, with Sarah Ford Founder of Ranch Road Boots
About Sarah Ford:

Sarah Ford learned the meaning of hard work when her father hired her to be the janitor for his office at just 10 years old! She didn’t bristle at the work – instead, she expanded the business and ran a janitorial company, cleaning the bathrooms & offices for most of the tenants in the building until she was 17.

Instilled with fortitude and commitment to work at such a young age, Sarah has never taken the easy path in life. A Marine Corps Veteran, she’s served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

She then went on to Harvard Business School. She says she learned more on the battlefield than at HBS.

She founded Ranch Road Boots in 2012 with $60K she had saved from her previous jobs. Her boots were inspired by her grandfather, “Daddy Tom,” of San Angelo, TX. Her mission is to create leather goods with style & quality that can last forever.

She also gives back to the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund with every pair sold.

She waited until after becoming an entrepreneur to have her two daughters – she says if she could do it all over again, she would have had her children at a much younger age! She explained it to me like this: “Your life and career don’t get less complicated with time, and you can’t put it off until you retire when things slow down!”

She’s incredibly unique and offers an amazing perspective about various aspects of life, business and entrepreneurship.

Here is what we discussed on this episode:

  • How Sarah began her entrepreneurial journey (at a very young age)
  • Why Sarah chose to go to Harvard Business School, after serving two military tours in the Marines
  • What experiences from her youth inspired her to create a brand focused on quality
  • The reason Sarah and Ranch Road Boots donate to the Injured Marines Sempre Fi Fund
  • And so much more!
PRODUCTION CREDITS:

This Self Made Strategies Podcast is a SoftStix Productions LLC jawn.  This episode was produced, edited, and hosted by Tony Lopes, remotely in Philadelphia.  The Self Made Strategies Podcast is sponsored by Lopes Law LLC (www.LopesLawLLC.com).

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HERE IS THE TRANSCRIPT FOR EPISODE 061 OF THE SELF MADE STRATEGIES PODCAST:

Tony Lopes: [00:00:20] Welcome to another Special Edition, COVID-19, Episode of the Self Made Strategies Podcast. I am your host Tony Lopes and with me today is Sarah Ford, the founder of ranch road boots. Hey Sarah, how are you?

Sarah Ford: [00:00:37] I’m good. How are you doing here today?

Tony Lopes: [00:00:38] I’m great, thanks. Thanks for making the time to meet with us. As you can hear, Sarah is on the phone calling us from Palm Springs.

Beautiful weather out

Sarah Ford: [00:00:47] there. I would imagine it is. Blue sky is in sunny. Beautiful.

Tony Lopes: [00:00:50] Sarah, you founded ranch road boots in 2012 with the $60,000 that you had saved from previous jobs. Why don’t you tell us how you got started with ranch road boots and what inspired you to start the company.

Sarah Ford: [00:01:06] I will, I would love to talk about that. To be clear.    was not directly, I think like most entrepreneur, you kind of have  to live off. Okay.  Mmm. So I was that, that sort of provided the loss of income from quitting my day job, that sort of provided day to day living expenses and ranch road.

Inventory, um, which was a nice way to learn about . Uh, today we look like a very, very different company. We have the same name, very different. How funny. Yeah. Is what I originally started. But without having a lot of startups capital, that’s what I had they do.

Tony Lopes: [00:01:59] Now you said that the company looks a bit different.

Can you explain to us how it’s evolved from 2012 to now in the eight years that you’ve been running ranch road boots.

Sarah Ford: [00:02:09] Yes. Originally I was trying to kind of the, the , the cowboy, the ID, the time was where you could go on the Nike website, design your own makers. The design would live on the web, right. And other people could buy them.

So it was kind of a crowd  or shoe design mechanism. I had, I thought that I, okay. Do something similar with Western cowboy boots and that’s. That really bye. Instead of a , the whole business plan at the beginning decided to try to sell. And that would be  mean a lot on the back end. That would mean that I’d have a supplier and that I would have a way to immersion.

Um, from the beginning, kept it very professional from like an accounting standard  and a business standpoint. So I went through all the, the steps to treat it like, you know, the very real business that was okay. . What I originally started out doing did, they are like polar opposites cause we don’t sell custom boots.

Now we carry in stock. So we ship them to people much more like an eCommerce business. Then when I had originally started.

Tony Lopes: [00:03:18] And have you found that to be a better outlet and a better way to generate revenue for your organization than your original method or you know, did you prefer the original method but kind of had to change in a more of an e-commerce

Sarah Ford: [00:03:32] model?

I had to change it because there are, and now because boot makers and, Mmm, right. Really, I think of custom boot makers today as artists and you, you buy individual works of art from the artists and it’s not a very scalable business plan because of  the supply part of the equation. So, um, so really we had to do, okay.

There’s just not enough. Living boot makers today.  yeah. That’s why people have to your waitlist. I had a lot of,

Tony Lopes: [00:04:11] right, that makes sense. And so you talked about scalability. Was that one of the things you focused on from early on?

Sarah Ford: [00:04:17] Yes. And the thing that I think about today, yes. Scalability, the current team.

Well, what know? Well, at what point do you have to add new new people. Um, we try to say very lean at, you know, in the early stages of the business and outsource as much as . Awesome. Um, and so very much have that mindset. Right. Okay. We  so want to be prepared for these.  super lucky moments where all the sudden sales could take off or things that are out of your control and be prepared for that.

So I always think of in terms of, is our factory capable of scaling? Is our, you know, is our logistics system capable of scaling? Is their sales platform capable of scaling? Mmm. Just to be prepared for . Yeah, overnight success, which typically doesn’t happen, but if it does, you want to be ready.

Tony Lopes: [00:05:12] In that instance, what is your game plan?

If you do sort of go viral, so to speak, or you, you know, boom, and all of a sudden you’re, you’re doubling your revenue from one month to the next. What’s your game plan to react to that?

Sarah Ford: [00:05:26] Mmm, know I am kind of wrestling with it right now. If you have a moment where. A celebrity is eating your food and it just catches on overnight thing that that typically doesn’t happen, but if it does, it’s not heard of or happening.

We’re for sure. You know, working on moments like that that happen, I’m kind of torn today on whether to do pre-orders and to have people on waitlist or yes, email addresses and say, we’ll notify you when we’ve got it in  stock and then you can buy it. And honestly, I don’t have, Mmm. I right now, we just  do the email version, but a part of me, we don’t want to go ahead and make the sale and then to deliver the product on the back end.

Mmm. It’s okay. Much bigger a headache and it can turn into a customer service nightmare if you’re patients as a consumer doesn’t match with the timelines that the company’s promising. So, um, I’ve had experience with it in the past and we’ve handled it, but it is much bigger headache for the company and for the consumer.

Really.

Tony Lopes: [00:06:32] Right. That makes a lot of sense. And it’s obvious to me at least, that you spend a lot of time thinking about what your target audience is focused on and what they want to see from ranch road boots. So do you iterate some process that gets you customer feedback aside from your reviews? I, I see on your website you have 368 reviews, three 41 of that is five star reviews.

So you’re doing. Very, very, very well. Obviously you’re delivering on, in terms of quality, and people must be happy with the service as well, but is there another way that you’re making sure that you’re meeting your customer’s expectations?

Sarah Ford: [00:07:08] Yeah, I would say, I think we have  their reviews and their accidents can’t change it.

That’s funny. Oh, anyway. Yeah. And those are always did a bad reviews  no, not my mom.  okay. But yeah, we, we are, we don’t, so our customer service email, do people tell you what they want?  well, for example, yep. Option. Like a four or a three because it would just require all a lot more money invested in inventory.

But, um, Oh well, white calves and white are probably our most common requested. And so if we were to introduce, yeah, like if we have a   it’s an evergreen, BU we’re going to keep it forever and really doubled down on it. Go into whip. That’s just based off are feedback. Um. So also with, with fashion, I mean, we’re functional, but very much we have an eye towards aesthetics, fashion as well.

And, yep. You see what, okay, Mmm. People are gravitating.  is like fashion centers, like , LA  parents, New York,  and really it’s fun. The how men and women are that are nontraditional. Where’s . Are styling are, you know, our styling cowboy boots. Did you react to that a little bit?   clean classic, yeah. Designs. But at the same time, we want to  sprinkle in to each collection, um, that they, that’s interesting and fun for people that are very fashion focus as well.

Tony Lopes: [00:09:00] Right. That makes sense. And I am looking at your boots right now as we speak on the phone, uh, on this podcast, and they are gorgeous. They look stunning. Now you modeled this sort of based on, or at least inspired by your grandfather, daddy, Tom. Can you tell us a little bit about daddy Tom and how he led to the inspiration for these

Sarah Ford: [00:09:20] boots?

I was a young, my dad was the youngest of four kids. Okay, daddy, tell my momma Joel, and then I wasn’t the youngest of like all the grantees. Yes. Yeah. And growing up in San Angelo, Texas,  late seventies and eighties I had the unique opportunity that have, or a grandfather that at that time he had retired.

Finished his work as a cowboy. Then they moved, the family does that Angelo, and he went to work for the water department and he, that’s where he ultimately retired from, but he was by and large, retired . Okay. His Lizzie boy. But I hang out with them, you know, any young age for B. Okay. Yeah. Like, let’s see, 20 trying to remember the year he died, but I was, it was young alter my formative years.

I got to hang out with that like hilarious to be and always fun and always, you know, for a joke  to go by me, Hindi or whatever. I want to basically, and he didn’t have a lot of money, but whatever he had, he was happy to just give it away. Um, daddy. Dom was just always nice. I was a pretty intense kid as far as school and everything, and physical fitness and all that.

My father was as well. And so daddy Tom was always  for me. It was always . Okay. It’s kind of fun. Uh, which was nice. And so he, he also was a very legitimate cowboy horses for a living before he read water meters. And you was very good. Well, I working with horses and so, um,  love, even after that time of his life, he always loved to have a nice pair of  Hmm.

And starch shirt and starch jeans or starched jeans or slacks and a really nice hat. And that was always like, that was, so he, he kind of put in a put in me at an early age of love for a nice pair of cowboy boots and they’re respected for them as well.

Tony Lopes: [00:11:28] Oh, that’s incredible. And so his giving nature, I guess is in part why you’ve chosen to give back to the injured Marine Semper fi fund.

I know you served and you’re a Marine Corps veteran. You served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. First and foremost, thank you so much for your service. That’s an incredible sacrifice that you’ve made for our freedoms. And we greatly appreciate that. What was that impart was daddy Tom’s sort of giving nature, as you said, part of the reason that you give back to the injured Marine Semper fi fund.

Sarah Ford: [00:12:01] Well, thank you. Um, I was, yes, probably right. Parents sample and then just  being around people on a base, I mean, daddy boiled meat, whatever, whatever he had. Mmm. They raised  children though  to be very generous as well. And my parents were a great example. Um, and so they always  they always . I always remember that.

And even when times were pretty tough, um, my dad was an entrepreneur and my mom was an educator when times would get like pretty lean, my parents still continued to give through those variants, um, as a, okay. After I got out of the Marine Corps. Mmm. Met my current husband,  I a lot of my neighbors  jobs with the number five find it.

I knew about the organization and I just felt like  with ranch road. If we didn’t, you know, we weren’t big enough to start our own charity.  I didn’t really feel like  that was necessary because number five bye. It’s doing such a good job. The money donated to them and really keeping their own overhead.

Very lean and I felt like, yeah, our business as well as far as trying to run a lean organization and deliver great value to our customers. So that’s why I chose  support. Okay. Charitable organization and I would say they also have American funds, so the money is donated, goes to all branches, veterans of all branches of the military.

They, I mean, if you’re in a bind that you can call them and they will, they will help you out. And I know that, I don’t know, but I know I have friends that are caseworkers. And just in generalities, you hear the cap of things that doesn’t per five fund does. And people get in. You know, everybody falls on hard times, but you.

You can call them and they really help people in their time of need very quickly.

Tony Lopes: [00:13:56] That’s wonderful. It’s really wonderful to hear that there’s an organization out there doing that for our veterans when they return. Um, so you also attended Harvard business school. Tell us a little bit about that experience.

First and foremost, why did you choose Harvard after serving in three tours of duty. You choose Harvard business school, what was the direction that you chose to go in while you were

Sarah Ford: [00:14:19] there? Aye. Bye. Three months before getting out of the Marine Corps, you apply to business school and I only had. Really time to properly for one, and I had to take the G mat study for it at that time.

So I applied to Harvard because I’d had a former boss from the Marine Corps go there and I started looking at them, their website after receiving a request for like a 300 , the. You know, review that. Yeah. There was like a closet first or second year. Did you have to send that out to your former subordinates and bosses?

Yep. Feedback. So he sent that, uh, looking at her business schools website and I was really energized.  this looks like fun. I mean, it looks great. Like, I mean, I just, I was just really blown away by it. Bye. Marketing aspect of it. Mmm. And so that’s why I have  right there. And I got  I got lucky. I think it’s  just you look at the odds of it, Amy shouldn’t really expect to get in.

And I felt very lucky that I got in and fortunate, I’m sure  my Marine Corps background as well. Um, so the Marine Corps really set me up for success in that without unbeknownst to me at the time. That for sure is right. Probably the reason I got in was because of my Marine Corps background. Um, and so

Harvard coming out of the Marine Corps. Go into her at the time I did.   bye bye duty Harvard business school, spending 18 months.     wonderful professors that they hire and all the case studies that you study, which is soft, is landing. Okay. I could have ever imagined coming out of the Marine Corps and I, um, I feel.

Very good. Fortunate. Yeah. I’ve had that experience to be able to do that versus leaving the Marine Corps and going into another. I know. Just straight into a job. Right. Then without that, you know, the transition time I think would have been a a bumpier transition.

Tony Lopes: [00:16:25] Right. That makes sense. And so, okay. You learn a lot about, I guess, running a business there.

Is that correct? I know you had seven years of experience, as we discussed from the age of 10 years to hold. You were a janitor for your father’s office, and you work that all the way. You turned it into an entrepreneurial venture and work that for seven years until you were 17. And then I guess you go to the military right after that?

Sarah Ford: [00:16:50] I did. I did not. I joined our, went to university of Texas  and even there it was like my dad was like, okay, what are you getting a job? So it was always okay. Yeah. Mmm, you, you go to school, but you also need a job. And it, no, it was the light a little bit light because school was obviously the first priority, but it was a waitress or a, um, or a did work study through university of Texas and graduated from university of Texas.

I worked for it software startup called trilogy. And I spent, um, and I think a year there before I  quit and doing the Marine Corps and . Mmm, I had, so it was, it was a pretty fast, you know, switch from college, the one job and into the Marine Corps in, at Harvard business school. And then I went to work for Boston consulting group, so when I, Oh, okay.

thinking about Harvard business. Cool.   more about like learning how to ask a lot of  questions and your questions probably are better than if you had all those cases. There’s nothing. The most successful entrepreneurs and businesses, people do not go to business school, but it’s if you do not need that for success at all.

Um, and it’s really, yeah, just on the job training where you learn the most, but Harvard does a wonderful job of it.  you’d ask like really good question.

Tony Lopes: [00:18:14] Very interesting. Now what happened at trilogy that made you want to leave after such a short period of time to go into the military? Just out of curiosity.

Sarah Ford: [00:18:23] So I was. Yes, I was. I love it. The, I started traveling  after college.  does backpacking around Europe and I bye. Yes, kind of God always works really hard at school. Try to do a good job. And then I got into my first job and my overwhelming feeling was like, this is it. This is what I’m supposed to do till when they are retire.

Like I just go to a job and  so   uh. Wrong with that. Me, them. It was a really fun one helping me to work for. Okay. Aye  did kind of longingly. I thought about, well, maybe I could do something more fun or adventure is like teach for America.  or . He actually, the peace Corps not teach for America was really interested in that or, and I was interested in maybe like moving to a cool town and teaching math or something like eighth grade math or, but the Marine Corps had always been   aye.

My conversation like growing up, because my father had been in the Marines before, I was  boring. And so I added, you know, the Marine Corps to that. When I was in Europe, I went to the Normandy beaches and learned a lot about them. Sacrifice. Does that happen there? Really? Okay. Okay. The military, um, and so I went to talk to a Marine Corps recruiter.

Yes. They’re very efficient. Yeah. If you show promise.

Yeah.

Tony Lopes: [00:20:04] Now you’re in ranch road boots. What would you say is the sort of secret sauce, the most important part of the business for you to your two ranch road boots success?

Sarah Ford: [00:20:16] Nope.

For ownership. Yeah. Uh, sometimes I think too, a test of who can stand up so long. Yes. Cause it’s really difficult day in, day out. It’s a lot of fun and I certainly enjoy much more of what I do than it is the part that I don’t love. They do. But when you’re starting a business from scratch, yes. Okay. Play  the entrepreneur has, so like, you know, just keep on going.

And I think that that is like the most important  because try a lot of . Okay. And a lot of it. A lot of things won’t work, and so you have to like figure out, okay, quickly adjust course, then try something. Nothing else. Oh, day in, day out as you’re trying to build a success for business. Mmm. That gets . That gets really like tiring and 42 now, so you’ll always have those.

That sense of like, this is going to turn into my wife. It’s working. I’m really, opportunity costs is pretty high. I could go, I could go do something else. And so I think the most important thing that I bring to the table is like tenacity. Mmm. And just the desire. Yeah. I have to build a success.

Tony Lopes: [00:21:27] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

And, but you did touch on marketing a little bit, which I guess you learned while after your stint at Harvard while you were at the consulting company, correct?

Sarah Ford: [00:21:37] Well, I worked at Boston consulting group. I’m not, I work as a VP of sales start up after I left. Well, think group, and before I joined or before I started my business.

Okay. Mmm. The marketing. I have a marketing director here at ranch road. Very good at what she does. And uh, that my strength, yes. Okay.  on the operation. Bye. And the hiring end, you know, for people that  that are better, I hire people that are better at, in their individual fields. And I’m not like, you know, we can work, collaborate on things.

But I hired them because they know more than me about this particular area. And I think marketing is one of those in that category. For me. Aye. I did logistics in the Marine Corps and I liked it.  problems. So the kind of the best of your thing? Yeah, the more deliberating I get. So I’m pretty good at like making decisions with 80% of the information.

This is all stuff that’s like. In the Marine Corps, and it’s also really applicable to running a business.

Tony Lopes: [00:22:43] That’s very interesting. And so would you say that that’s your, you said that’s your strength, is putting together teams and sort of high level operations. What would you say is one of your biggest weaknesses and how do you counteract that?

Sarah Ford: [00:22:57] That is not, that’s a hard answer, like a short list, but just trying to figure out which one.

So I’m impatient for one, and, uh. Not like, so I think impatient sometimes if you, you know, I’m like, yes, okay, we’re going to do that. We’re going to do it now. And instead of, okay, well where is it didn’t do the whole plan. I’m like, okay, we’re going to do everything right now. And Mmm.

Being like, okay, with it taking six months versus, okay, why is it going to take six months? This all done in a month. Okay. Sometimes there’s, um, there is. There’s a reason. Sometimes you should take the six month route versus trying to pile everything into one month. You’ll get better results. You’d be happier with the results at the end of six months.

I’m much more on the, okay, let’s get it all done right now.  she was saying it takes six months, like why can’t we do it and why? Um, it is not always the best way to do things.

Tony Lopes: [00:24:07] Right. Right. I understand that. I actually have relate to that a little bit because I’m very similar in that context. When I see a goal or an objective, I just want to shoot right for it and kind of worry about the obstacles and react as we go.

And a lot of times when you’re working with a team, it’s not so easy to do that. Right? So how do you deal with that when you, I would imagine that you’re a very competitive person. Obviously. You’ve. I’m succeeded at a high level in a lot of different arenas. So you also have a strong skillset. So how do you deal with people on your team or in your sort of people that you’re surrounded by when they say, Hey, we gotta take a step back and slow down.

How do you overcome your impatience or your propensity to just shoot from the hip?

Sarah Ford: [00:24:54] Your team is really important and so you know, if a person is , I’m still working with them and plan on still working with them. You have to really. Has self responsibility that people, and so that’s like . Yep. Probably, you know, just listening and saying, okay, I see it. I see this calendar.

Right. Mainly I trust you. And, um, I believe in you and I believe you’re right. Is that’s like, I mean, that’s what I do now.  get around that and some things are not so. Important. Some things are more important to do that with. There’s some things you can say, no, you’re right. You know, you do need to do it quicker and we can get this done faster.

Yeah. But I think dressing your team and trust to get giving people responsibility is . It is really critical and building a happy, happy place for people to work.

Tony Lopes: [00:25:58] Right. That makes sense. Do you rely more on data or on the actual people? I know you mentioned your team in there, but obviously a lot of businesses, especially when you’re looking at scaling and having gotten to Harvard business school, I would imagine you constantly try to aggregate and then analyze as much data about your business as you can, especially since you’re in the e-commerce realm.

So do you focus more so on data or your team and what’s the balance between the two.

Sarah Ford: [00:26:26] We, we look at data on it daily basis. Yeah. At the end of the day though, okay. You take the numbers, and you have to still go make decisions and go with your gut feeling a lot of times about things because there’s so many…

First of all, yeah. Data. Is that physically significant? You know, results and to test things and to test them often. Typically, that doesn’t come with a startup  much bigger company where you have that. So yes, we look at data, but at the end of the day, if, if super clear, okay, we’ve gone to one side, you have to go with your gut feeling about thanks and that you’re running the brand  and you got out.

Got it. Not, Mmm. Yeah. Everything. Aye

no worries. But at the end of the day, you have to use judgment to make all these decisions.

Tony Lopes: [00:27:31] That makes sense. That does make sense. Who inspires you as a leader

Sarah Ford: [00:27:36] and why? Alan Gray bill? Mmm. Was my awesome in the Marine Corps. He, and he was, um, I’m still friends with him today. And you’re  typically not know.

You’re not friends in the Marine Corps. When I was a Lieutenant and he was a captain, I wasn’t, yeah, you’re not friends, but you have respect for somebody. I genuinely like to him as a person by his office and listen, sit down, listen to him for 30 minutes is always an enjoyable thing. . The thing that, the reason I, why I really like working for him.

I mean she trusted  a lot and I always fell like. Look, I’m an overachiever. He treated me like, yes, and you’re not going to screw it up. Aw, I’m nervous about, he’s like, don’t screw it up. Oh, you’ll be fine.

I know, but I was like, Oh. He was always on my. Good rooting for us, but we were like,  we didn’t want to disappoint him at all. He just treated us like we were capable and knew, you know, he doesn’t, he treated me like . Yeah. I really appreciate that. And I enjoyed working for him so much. Mmm. And I, and I didn’t want to disappoint him and Oh, it is  rather than disappointing him.

But, um, I think he was also just enjoyable to be around. And. That is also very important for me. I get, I don’t, I will, I will absolutely work myself into the ground for somebody if, if they’re working harder than me. There is sometimes like really stressed, stressful to work for, you know, for a longevity and especially in a job  can.

Quit. Do something else like that. Right. Awesome. That’s not healthy for me, and I don’t, I think it’s healthy for a lot of people though. You can learn a lot from something like that. So I was just a really, I’m smart person and he was fun to be around and he trusted us. Yeah. And he gave us a lot of responses.

The ability.

Tony Lopes: [00:29:48] Interesting and you seem to have carried that forward. I mean, I hear it in what you’re saying about, you know, really focusing a lot on your team and on the people and making sure that they’re happy where they are and that they care about working for you. That’s really interesting. So that’s great to hear.

Now, what are the current biggest threats to your business?

Sarah Ford: [00:30:18] You know? So the hardest thing about, okay, about our business either has to get cashflow positive on it  very quickly, which is hard for a fashion brand. So we’re raising money and it is probably one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done deploying. Do I rack

fear? Because so many years, and it’s like, Oh my gosh, we have so many good things going on. So many good people working with us. Um, and I really believe we can be a really brand. Mmm. But if I rented a cashier, they all, it all ends very quickly and painfully, and it’s like a , you know, you were in an Adobe brick wall.

That’s where it always keeps me up at night.

Tony Lopes: [00:31:06] Right. That makes a lot of sense. And how much of your energy or time do you spend actually looking at other competitors and then sort of, you know, using that as a tool maybe to analyze yourself and your business and reacting to that.

Sarah Ford: [00:31:24] We look at? Um, yeah. You try to figure out what best, right?

Because those are by looking at companies that  perceive as successful, the problem is you don’t really know. Maybe they’re looking, you don’t figure out  make themselves better. So the danger and, yeah, just like mimicking each other. Is it, you’re probably not coming up with. The most like creative solutions, if that makes sense.

You look and say, Hey, I, you know, I like how I like how this is laid out. Makes sense. So that’s like a good way to like, you know, that’s just a good way to whatever it is. Mmm.   and so I, I for sure do that. I just, I, you know, pay attention to what people are doing. Correct. For example, there’s some companies right now   Mmm.

In any business that has inventory, especially in fashion, a lot of times you get caught. I have all the things, I don’t need an inventory, and none of the things I do need to buy more of that like quickly, you know? But it’s not quick. Okay. And then you’ve, you’ve got overstocked, and then all of a sudden those are selling, you know, you’re constantly trying to react that I’ve noticed, like some companies are doing labs on their website, whereas people can preorder and it’s a way to sort of test.

Yes, things out. And I think that’s good. And that w ranch road  do something like that. So just so we don’t have a bunch of inventory that we don’t know if people want, um, you know, if you can get smarter. Yeah. Like collective, if we can watch each other and all get smarter than that’s better. I mean, I think it’s like more efficient.

Yeah. Companies, I’ll get more efficient. So I look at, um. I know, uh, I looked at it may not be so healthy. Well, I look at how much money some of the companies are raising and they come out with  big splashy light, big numbers, and sometimes kind of, yeah. Yeah. So helpful for me because I can’t, Mmm. You know, I, all I can do is like trying, but I just, sometimes you look at it and you’re just like, yes, seems easy for them.

And I know it not, I know that that is not an  good way to look at it. Yeah. Okay. You wonder like, what, how come they’re able to raise $40 million? You know? And then sometimes like I look at, Oh, look at you, look at them. The fundraising side of things, and that’s probably not  the child they think to focus on, because the reality is like if our competitors are getting big for, especially with , correct.

Numerous shoe sales. Yeah. Um, that’s very helpful. Oh, for all. All of us. I think it grows.

Tony Lopes: [00:34:16] Right. That makes sense. And yeah, I mean, when you’re looking at, it’s almost like Instagram fame, right? Like a social media fame. If you’re looking at others and

Sarah Ford: [00:34:24] only see

Tony Lopes: [00:34:25] what they’re putting out externally anyways, right? If you’re looking at, Oh, they seem to be doing a lot in sales, but they may be a complete wreck on the inside, or they may have a lot of bad debt.

Right. Um, so

Sarah Ford: [00:34:36] it’s, it’s tough. Like the problems, the stressors come with them, get bigger, or the more zeros you tack onto the revenue. And so I know that they’re facing challenges and I know that   okay, thanks. It’s a huge company, so they never go away. And that’s why I have to remind myself. Yeah, we do turn into the.

$100 million a year company that I . I think we can, aye  I have to be comfortable with it. Not the things that happen to a business because they’re  just of  he you. And so I just, I’m always pretty conscious about thinking like, okay, like this. Yes. This stuff doesn’t go away, so you better. I do enjoy it. Mmm.

I think there’s different leaders do. That’s like another home Harvard business school learning was, it seems like the entrepreneurial way. Yes. Size of revenue because they get replaced as the CEO,

right.

Yeah.

Tony Lopes: [00:35:44] So you, you did mention that you’re fundraising, obviously. How much tougher is it to fundraise for a fashion business than another type of business?

Sarah Ford: [00:35:54] Okay. I have never tried to raise money for another company, but I think it’s harder because doesn’t have the allure of these. Like, I think they like unicorns, like some of the tech companies, um, or, or, um, maybe medical type company that doesn’t have this, this like, Hey, if it hits, because it’s like ginormous.

So I think it’s harder for that reason. It’s not as like, sexy. Of an investment, maybe

Yeah. Mmm. Right. A lot of people that are making the disease vision or not necessarily like, yeah. And to fashion themselves and so, Mmm. That is like, I think that’s harder and just the, I guess it’d be okay. Okay. Yes. Yeah. Cause I wanted, I think it’s like 2.3 or 2.5% of venture capital money goes, it’s a female businesses.

And I think a lot of women business owners are saying like, look, I’m trying to solve a problem, female. So a lot of the people that have the money are guys, and, and maybe you don’t understand that, okay, this is like a real opportunity, um,  because. Yes. Right.

Tony Lopes: [00:37:16] That makes a lot of sense. And thank you for bringing up the female empowerment perspective.

How do you feel? You’ve been in the military and now you pointed out very happily that you’re, you know, in the business realm, as an entrepreneur, as a female entrepreneur, and trying to generate revenue. Now your company does sell boots for men and women. Just to clarify, but nonetheless. You’re a female owned and operated business and founded business.

So do you find that, have you struggled in those predominantly male environments, and what are you finding today? Is it, you know, what, what are the best practices, so to speak, for other female entrepreneurs who may be listening to this episode, what advice would you give them.

Sarah Ford: [00:38:03] I did. I felt like being a female is as a positive thing in a large ease.

You bring a different perspective to the table. Um, that said, being a female is, that can be a little bit off awkward because  or the  if, if you’re one female out of a hundred, you stand out more. And so feel like right or wrong that like the things you do, if you screw up, it just gets  more eyeballs on you.

And I didn’t, I really didn’t like it.  yup.  I’m a female Marine who cares. Like I’m, I’m a Marine and that was important and I needed  do a good job as a Lieutenant.  you know, being a good leader to my Marines and not. Care whether I was a male or female, and that was always like really how I was raised. I talked to my dad a little bit before he passed away about just the challenges of racing, but he was like, no, wait.

He didn’t entertain. Oh, it’s female or male. He’s just like, well, maybe they just don’t like your business, you know?

Oh yeah. Very blunt about it. And. That is a good   to take as well, because I can’t change, there’s stuff like overnight, it’s not going to change at the time trying to raise this money. So yeah, if I, if I just get too focused on, Oh, okay know I’m a woman, that’s why they’re not invested. Absolutely useless and counterproductive to what I’m trying to do.

And, um. Instead, I’m more, I, I am more of a  Oh, aware of it. Yeah. Then I used to be and I  okay. That if I can, yep. Okay. Yup. Positive data points  good. And maybe help somebody else. So like normalize it is, I think of it like people are breaking these barriers on the mile that you never could have imagined if someone does it and then all of a sudden somebody come along after you is like done, makes it easier for the next person.

I think that that’s why somebody like. Barriers in our minds are good  breakthrough to pave the way for other people. And I do appreciate, even though I don’t like to focus so much on  that I’m female owned. I do appreciate that people  some investors are specifically looking to support. Female businesses and I, I think that that’s good.

I probably used to whatever they’re more resistant to, but I mean, it’s probably true that the more good examples of data points, the more people, yeah. Whether it’s female owned or minority owned businesses, that makes it easier for the, the kid who’s maybe sitting in third grade grade right now to do it one day when they’re older.

And I think that’s good. Perfect for us in that diversity, high levels and businesses. Some other

Tony Lopes: [00:41:04] female entrepreneurs might say that there are still a lot of misogyny from men in the entrepreneurial realm. What advice would you give to those female entrepreneurs to overcome those situations? .

Sarah Ford: [00:41:21] I don’t, I totally disagree with it.

I know. And whether it’s right, you know, intentional or unintentional on my personal belief, Berkeley, unintentional. Um, I will say I’ve had by far and away more supportive and, and I wouldn’t be here today without   yeah, true. Leaders and mentors.  get me where I am today.

less than 5% of people. I felt like that though, were working against me. Okay. I’m also  you kind of, for me, like the advice of the  is focusing on doing a good job and ignore it. Ignore it.   call it out. Absolutely. Uh, very direct.  somebody that you feel like is, it’s trying to kind of covertly work against you.

Mmm. Yeah.  maybe bullies are best just confronted right face to face.

Tony Lopes: [00:42:19] What one message would you give to other leaders to help them succeed as you have?

Sarah Ford: [00:42:25] Yeah, I find it. Um, okay. I find a lot of people get on like an idea, especially they don’t want someone to ’em.  deal their ideas. I don’t want to talk about it, but I really think that it’s good.

okay. Did share and defined a group that you can share with or you know, people, you know, on a different  perspective. It was on things instead of just trying to sit on something. Sure. Perfect plan or perfect solution and go for it. Um, I really liked  let’s talk through things. Yeah. Especially difficult situations to talk through with people.

I’ve heard the advice. I think the woman who started Spanx. And for her though, that when she had her business was like. They sent form, it was better to kind of not talk about it, cause there may have been too many people to tell you never going to work. Mmm. So certainly there’s that aspect. Yeah. But for me, I felt like I get, I get it.

I come to a better solution faster if I share with . Okay. And obviously with what she said. They admire, like share with people that are . They kind of were very supportive of what you’re trying to do and aren’t just going to tell you it’s not going to work.

Tony Lopes: [00:43:40] That’s a good point. So when you’re opening up those lines of communication, do you set certain rules and fail safes, so to speak, to prevent yourself from encouraging, yes.

Men and women, yes. People so to speak.

Sarah Ford: [00:43:55] Mmm. No, I mean, I mean, I’d probably, I am probably air on the overshare. Ah, and when people, I do sometimes, like for example, like my sister, I drove  sometimes  if I already have my decision made up, I won’t ask  her because if she does like the opposite, it’s like there’s certain people in your life, you really have a hard time doing.

Not what they told you to do. She’s five years older than me and I have a problem with that with,

for example, I want her opinion and I don’t do it. Okay. Okay.  you get to hear about it. Okay. Oh, that’s

Tony Lopes: [00:44:38] great. What is a hustle story from early on in your entrepreneurial journey that led you to where you are today?

Sarah Ford: [00:44:46] Oh, God. Um, we, um, I feel like that’s, Mmm. And every aspect of our  business. I mean, taking Bootle  like I took these older horse trailers and like a 1974 oars trailer and borrowed, then boyfriend’s like truck and drove drug it all over like Arizona

It measure, get in front of people and I was doing like, okay, like, um, where you go buy produce like on Sundays, like the farmer’s market that I was doing craft shows like I was going anywhere and just like, and sometimes I would use like. Pull it up and do a town like this. Sit there and it’d be like crickets, right?

Oh no. I was just trying, I was like trying, including, you know, dragging around a horse trailer. I’m all over. I took it to California. I mean, I took it everywhere to just try to get our brand out there and back on that. And I’m like, Oh my God. I’ve tried to then one in Houston and before we had enough inventory.

So left would be in the one in Houston and the right move would be the one in Austin. And I, I still think is a good idea. Okay. I felt like it was like a showroom, say like, Hey, try him on. Yeah. and then we’ll ship. So like lug it home and okay. And we were closed like over half the time because of like inclement weather.

Cause were, they weren’t. Climate controlled, so it just, I felt like it was like a good idea, but in reality I was just like, objet go for it. Sitting there, no one was willing to stop. No, a hundred degree heat.

Tony Lopes: [00:46:35] not even with the promise that the other one would fit just as well when it got back. That’s great. Well, you learn early on, right? That’s part of the growing pains, so to speak.

Sarah Ford: [00:46:48] I know, and I was looking at like no vote or trunk club, or they’re doing these showrooms where they were doing that exactly.

When a much more elevated way. Before I hired like Valor marketing director, I was doing everything like, Oh,  pull up to daycare to pick up my daughter. Okay, we got to do an Instagram post today. But went out, you know, after I heard her, I was like banned from touching it. The gram. So I was always like doing everything good.

And it was looking like to homemade.

Tony Lopes: [00:47:25] I think that’s just kind of inherent with any entrepreneurial journey. Am I right? At some point it starts somewhere first and foremost, right? So when we see

Sarah Ford: [00:47:34] raise money first, I mean, you could take your business plan and go raise it money and do it big, but I think we would have burn through.

A lot more cash. Right. Doing it that way.  it’s hard to raise money though while you’re in the middle of a business. I think it’s easier when things are going like gangbusters or when they’re, uh, in its idea stage and I just was always there to lose somebody else because it’s funny. And so I did, I didn’t feel comfortable doing that back then.

you know, with the, with the  with a healthy product, cash, you can kind of. That’s the right. Tell him like early on. But you also try things if you try him in bigger ways.

Tony Lopes: [00:48:18] Well, but also the common adage is to try to bootstrap, right? So that you can make the most that you can from the beginning. So quite frankly, a lot of entrepreneurs, probably a very high percentage.

Do. Charge into the breach, so to speak, pardon the pun, without any sort of support from investors or funding aside from friends and family maybe, or their own savings like you did. Right? So you can’t be blamed for trying to, uh, to bootstrap and to do everything at least early on. But you’re right for it too.

Escalate to another level. And to become scalable, you have to sort of invest in your team and you really start to, you have to find people that have strategic advantages that at least fill in your weaknesses. Correct.

Sarah Ford: [00:49:09] Right? Yes, for sure. And you can hit, you hit the limit, but actually on a direct, again, to our business on what you can boot strap, because you customer acquisition cost is very expensive.

Doubling in revenue, you have to double your inventory and do you have to pre buy that? So it’s not a wholesale relationship. Other retailers buying it. So yes, there’s some limits on it, especially with . It’s expensive to carry versus sale, like a sock. Mmm. So. There’s some limits to bootstrapping that mentality.

I would love, as we continue to grow, keep that mentality in the company and how, Mmm. I have people that work what the company benefit from that. So is a company, you know, like I know there’s ways to set up businesses where everybody can share that works, but then in the profitability of it, so everybody’s willing to, Mmm.

Mmm. So, you know, just make sure the. Like if you, you know, if you don’t need to waste a piece of paper and always please the paper, that kind of mentality. Yeah, they benefit from it too. That would be wonderful to instill in a bigger company.

Tony Lopes: [00:50:13] What are you looking at in terms of your 90 day goals and then let’s say your 10 or 15 year goals.

Sarah Ford: [00:50:22] Yeah. We’ll make it a week cause I like to do things fast.

Well, yeah. Right now we’re in the middle of developing fall collection photo shoots. Happening, we’re trying to get ahead of, yes, the food come screaming in from Spain the day before we need them. Um, so I work with, uh, wonderful people that now help me with kind of line development and ordering. They say, Hey, we do this.

Here’s the calendar. Here’s when you have to do things in a year. And all these people come from like very strong, but where backgrounds, Mmm. I’ve been doing it for decades and so, yeah. Where we are, I’m like  literally in the next day. Yeah, a week or two weeks, we’re working on fall samples were shooting, spraying, which we’re going to launch like a couple of weeks after.

And so just pulling all of that off. Plus my husband’s retiring from the Marine Corps next Friday. Wow.

Tony Lopes: [00:51:22] You have a lot going on.

Sarah Ford: [00:51:28] Yeah. Or I’m in the middle of moving, moving from 29 palms, California to San Angelo, Texas.

Tony Lopes: [00:51:35] wow. Wow. Very interesting. Very interesting. Cool. And so what can we expect to see from ranch road boots in the next, say. Five years, 10 years. What w where would you like to see the business?

Sarah Ford: [00:51:48] I think we can be in 80 to a hundred million dollar a year business that timeframe.

Um, not easily, but that’s not like  I don’t feel like crazy when I’m saying that. Mmm. There’s no reason why we can’t. And people love to buy from our brand. They like, yeah. The transparency that we offer, I think more interesting. Um, and I think we’ll, I know we’ll continue to put out a great product and, and appeal to this.

Okay. Millennial female shopper and continue to provide. Yeah. We for sure, when I continue to grow in men. Mmm. But our focus is. Like, what am I focus is and what I believe the market will, will take an hour going about it and the people that I’m working with on a team, I think we can be a really big core brand.

Tony Lopes: [00:52:41] That’s wonderful. Wonderful. So if people want to check out. Your company. They can obviously go to ranch road, boots.com how can people get in contact with you if they want to reach you directly?

Sarah Ford: [00:52:55] Email the support, email address and then the personal messages to be, go through that and get it shuttled off to me too.

Tony Lopes: [00:53:02] Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Sarah. I think this was a really informative episode and I hope you’ve had fun. It was great to have you on the show, and we look forward to all of the exciting things that ranch road boots has in store for us in the next decade

Sarah Ford: [00:53:16] or so.

You’re listening to an all new episode of self may strategies visit self-made strategies.com for new episodes, information about our guests and a whole lot more.

Tony Lopes: [00:53:53] Welcome to a brand new episode of the self-made strategies podcast. I’m your host Tony Lopes, and with me today is Sarah Ford, the founder of ranch road boots. Hey Sarah, how are you?

Sarah Ford: [00:54:07] I’m good. How are you doing today?

Tony Lopes: [00:54:09] I’m great, thanks. Thanks for making the time to meet with us. As you can hear, Sarah is on the phone calling us from Palm Springs.

Beautiful weather out there. I would imagine

Sarah Ford: [00:54:18] it is. Blue sky is in sunny. Beautiful. Sarah, you founded

Tony Lopes: [00:54:22] ranch road boots in 2012 with the $60,000 that you had saved from previous jobs. Why don’t you tell us how you got started with ranch road boots and what inspired you to start the

Sarah Ford: [00:54:35] company. I will, I would love it.

Talk about that to be clear.   no, directly. I think like most entrepreneur, you kind of have to live. Okay.  Mmm. So I was  provided  the loss of income from quitting my day job, sort of  the day to day living expenses for me and ranch road. Yes. In its original form. We were not selling . Mmm. We were selling custom boots, so I didn’t have the needs for, okay.

Bunch of them. Inventory, um, which was a nice way to learn about . Yeah. Uh huh. Today we look like a very, very different company. We have the same name. Very different. Yeah. How funny. Yeah. That’s what I originally started. But without having a lot of startup capital. Yeah.  they do.

Tony Lopes: [00:55:30] Now you said that the company looks a bit different.

Can you explain to us how it’s evolved from 2012 to now in the eight years that you’ve been running wrench road

Sarah Ford: [00:55:38] boots. Yes. Originally I was trying  to kind of the, yeah, the cowboy, right? The ID  I’m was where you could go on the Nike website. Design makers. The design would live on the web, right. And other people could buy him.

So it was kind of a crowd or shoe design mechanism I had, I thought that I could do something similar with Western cowboy boots, and that’s. That really bye. You know, instead of a , the whole business plan at the beginning decided to try to sell 50 pair of . Hmm. And that was be mean a lot on the back end.

That would mean that I’d have a supplier and that I would have a way to have customers. Um, from the beginning, kept it very professional from like an accounting standard  and a business standpoint. So I went through all the , the steps to treat it like, you know, the very real business it was. Okay. . What I originally started out doing did they, or like polar opposite, cause we don’t, well custom boots now we carry instructors.

So we ship them to people much more like an eCommerce business. Then when I had originally started.

Tony Lopes: [00:56:48] And have you found that to be a better outlet and a better way to generate revenue for your organization than your original method or you know, did you prefer the original method but kind of had to change in a more of an e-commerce model?

Sarah Ford: [00:57:03] I had to change it because there are, and now boot makers and, Mmm. Right. Really, I think of custom boot makers today as artists and you, you buy individual works of art from the artists and it’s not a very scalable business plan because of . Okay. Okay.  part of the equation. So, um, so really we had to do, okay.

There’s just  not enough. Living boot makers today. Yeah. That’s why people have  to your waitlist I a lot of, okay.

Tony Lopes: [00:57:41] Right. That makes sense. And so you talked about scalability. Was that one of the things you focused on from early on?

Sarah Ford: [00:57:48] Yes. And the thing that I think about the day. Okay. Scalability. The current team know well, at what point do you have to add new new people.

Um, we try to say very lean at, you know, in the early stages of the business and outsource as much as . Awesome. Um, and so very much have that mindset. Right. Okay.  so want to be prepared for these. Super lucky moment. It’s where all the sudden sales could take off or  things that are out of your control and be prepared for that.

So I always   in terms of is our factory capable of scaling? Is our, uh, you know, is our logistics system capable of scaling? Is their sales platform capable of scaling? Mmm. Just to be prepared for . Yeah, overnight success, which typically doesn’t happen. Do you want to be ready?

Tony Lopes: [00:58:43] in that instance, what is your game plan?

If you do sort of go viral, so to speak, or you, you know, boom, and all of a sudden you’re, you’re doubling your revenue from one month to the next. What’s your game plan to react to that?

Sarah Ford: [00:58:57] Mmm, know I am kind of wrestling with it right now. If you have a moment where. A celebrity is heating your food and it just catches on overnight thing that that typically doesn’t happen, but if it does not heard of or happening.

Yep. Or for sure. You know, working on moments like that that happen, I’m kind of torn today on whether to do pre-orders and to have people on waitlist or  email addresses.  they will notify you when we’ve got it in  and then you can buy it. And honestly, I don’t have, Mmm. Right now, we just  do the email version, but a part of me, we don’t want to go ahead and make it.

Okay, Dale, and then to deliver the product on the back end, it’s blood much bigger, a headache, and it can turn into a customer service nightmare if you’re excepting patients as a consumer doesn’t match with the timelines that the company’s promising. So, um, I’ve had it variants with it in the past and we’ve handled it, but it is much bigger headaches for the company and for the consumer.

Really.

Tony Lopes: [01:00:02] Right. That makes a lot of sense. And it’s obvious to me at least, that you spend a lot of time thinking about what your target audience is focused on and what they want to see from ranch road boots. So do you iterate some process that gets you customer feedback aside from your reviews? I, I see on your website you have 368 reviews, three 41 of that is five star reviews.

So you’re doing. Very, very, very well. Obviously you’re delivering on in terms of quality, and people must be happy with the service as well, but is there another way that you’re making sure that you’re meeting your customer’s expectations?

Sarah Ford: [01:00:39] Yeah, I think we have to.

Oh, anyway. Yeah. And those are always innovated reviews.  no, not my mom.  Mmm, okay. But yeah, we, we are, we don’t, so our customer service email, do people tell you what they want?  well, for example, wide option. Yeah. Like a four or a three because it would just require all a lot more money invested in inventory.

But, um, Oh, we’ll wipe calves and white. There probably are common requested. Okay. So if we were to introduce, yeah, like if we have a    it’s an evergreen, BU we’re going to keep it forever and really doubled down on it. Go and do whip. Did that’s just say sauce. Murphy feedback. Um. So also with, with fashion, I mean, we’re functional, but very much we have an eye towards, okay.

Fashion as well. And, yep. You see what, okay, Mmm. People are gravitating . There is like fashion centers, LA parents, New York,  and really it’s fun. The how men and women are that are nontraditional. Where’s . Are styling  you know, our styling cowboy boots.  did he react to that a little bit?   clean classic design.

But at the same time, we want to sprinkle in to each collection, um, that they, that’s interesting and fun for people that are very fashion focus. Well,

Tony Lopes: [01:02:31] right. That makes sense. And I am looking at your boots right now as we speak on the phone, uh, on this podcast. And they are gorgeous. They look stunning. Now you modeled this sort of based on, or at least inspired by your grandfather daddy, Tom.

Can you tell us a little bit about daddy Tom and how he led to the inspiration for these

Sarah Ford: [01:02:51] boots? I was the, yeah, my dad was the youngest four kids. Okay, daddy, tell my momma Joel, and then I wasn’t the youngest. Yes. And it growing up in San Angelo, Texas,  late seventies and eighties I had the unique opportunity that have, or a grandfather that at that time he had retired.

Finished his work as a cowboy. Then they moved, the family does it Angelo, and he went to work for the water department and he, that’s where he ultimately retired from, but he was by and large, retired . Okay. You know, his lazy boy, but I hang out with, yeah, a young age for me. Okay. Yeah. Like, let’s see, 20 trying to remember the year he died, but I was, that was young alter my formative years.

I got to hang out with that like hilarious to be and always fun and always, you know, for a joke or to go by me, Hindi or , whatever I want to basically. And he didn’t have a lot of money, but whatever he had, he was happy too. Just give it away. Um, daddy Dom was just always a nice, like I was a pretty intensive kid as far as school and everything and physical fitness and all that.

Um, my father was as well. And so daddy Tom was always for me. It was always a . Okay. It’s kind of fun. Uh, which was nice. And so he, he also was a very legitimate cowboy horses for a living before he read water meters. And you was very good. Good. Okay. Well, I working with horses and so, um,  love, even after that time of his life, he always loved to have a nice pair of , sorry, shirt and starch jeans or starched jeans or slacks and a really nice hat.

And that was always like, that was, so he, he kind of put in a put in me at an early age of love for a nice pair of cowboy boots and they’re respected for them as well.

Tony Lopes: [01:04:58] Oh, that’s incredible. And so his giving nature, I guess is in part why you’ve chosen to give back to the injured Marine Semper fi fund. I know you served and you’re a Marine Corps veteran.

You served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. First and foremost, thank you so much for your service. That’s an incredible sacrifice that you’ve made for our freedoms. And we greatly appreciate that. What was that impart was daddy Tom sort of giving nature, as you said, part of the reason that you give back to the injured Marine Semper fi fund.

Sarah Ford: [01:05:32] Thank you. Yes. Right? Yeah.

He’s a raised children though  to be very generous as well. And my parents were a great example. Um, and so they always . They always . I always remember that. And even when times were pretty tough, um, my dad was an entrepreneur and my mom was an educator when times would get like pretty lean, my parents still continue to give through those various, um, as a, okay.

I, after I got out of the Marine Corps. Mmm. Met my current husband,  I a lot of my neighbors  jobs. Number five I did. I knew about the organization. I just felt like  with ranch road. If we didn’t, you know, we weren’t big enough to start our own charity.  I didn’t really feel like that was necessary because number five, right.

the money donated to them and really keeping their own overhead. Very lean and I felt like, yeah, our business as well as far as trying to run a lean organization and delivery great value to our customers. So that’s why I chose  charitable organization. And I would say they also have American funds. So the money is donated, goes to all branches, veterans of all branches of the military.

They, I mean, if you’re in a bind that you can call them and they will, they will help you out. And I know that, I don’t know, but I know I have friends that are caseworkers in generalities. You hear the cap of things that doesn’t for five fund does. And people get in. You know, everybody falls on hard times, but you

Very quickly.

Tony Lopes: [01:07:27] That’s wonderful. It’s really wonderful to hear that there’s an organization out there doing that for our veterans when they return. Mmm. So you also attended Harvard business school. Tell us a little bit about that experience. First and foremost, why did you choose Harvard after serving in three tours of duty, you choose Harvard business school.

What was the direction that you chose to go and while you were there.

Sarah Ford: [01:07:51] Aye. I have  to one the school, because I had  three months. I decided three months before getting out of the Marine Corps that I want to do to apply to business school, and I only had really time to properly  for one, and I had to take the G mat study for it at that time.

So I applied to Harvard because I’d had awesome from the Marine Corps go there and I started looking at them, their website after receiving a request.    . You know, review that. Yeah. There was like a closet first or second year of Harvard. Yep. To send that out to your former subordinates and bosses. Yep.

Feedback. So he sent that to us when I started looking at her business schools website and I was  really energized.  this looks like fun. I mean, it looks great. Yeah. I mean, I just, I was just really blown away by it. Yeah. Bye marketing. Okay. Of it. Mmm. And so that’s why I have right there. And I got  see, I got lucky.

I think it’s  just the, you look at the odds of it emission, really expect to get in. And I felt very lucky that I got in and  fortunate, I’m sure  my Marine Corps background as well. Mmm. So the Marine Corps really set me up for success in that without unbeknownst to me at the time, for sure. Right. Probably the reason I got in was because of my Marine Corps background.

Um, and so . Harvard coming out of the Marine Corps. Go into our, at the time I did that time was   bye bye. Okay. Duty Harvard business school. Spending 18 months there was . Okay.   wonderful professors that they hire in all the case studies that you study, which is sauces landing. Okay. I could have ever imagined coming out of the Marine  and I, um, I feel.

Very fortunate. Yeah. I’ve had that experience. Okay. To be able to do that versus leaving the Marine Corps and going into another. I know. Just straight into a job. Right.  okay. You know, transition time I think would have been a a bumpier transition.

Tony Lopes: [01:09:56] Right. That makes sense. And so, okay. You learn a lot about, I guess, running a business there.

Is that correct? I know you had seven years of experience, as we discussed from the age of 10 years old, you were a janitor for your father’s office,

Sarah Ford: [01:10:10] and you work that all

Tony Lopes: [01:10:11] the way. You turned it into an entrepreneurial venture and work that for seven years until you were 17. I guess you go to the military right after that?

Sarah Ford: [01:10:20] I did. I did not. I joined our, went to university of Texas  and even there it was like my dad was like, okay, what are you getting a job? So it was always okay. Yeah. Mmm, you, you go to school, but you also need a job. And it, no, it was the light a little bit light because school was obviously the first priority, but I wasn’t, it was a waitress or a

Um, or a word. It works that either university of Texas and graduated  university of Texas. I worked for it software startup called trilogy. And I  um, and I think a year there before I  quit and joined the Marine Corps . Mmm, I had, yes. So it was, it was a pretty fast, yeah. Switch from college. The one job, and this is the Marine Corps in at Harvard business school.

And then I went to work for Boston, both in group. So when I, okay.  thing about Harvard business. Cool.   more about like learning how to ask a lot of  questions and your questions probably are better than what  if you had all those cases, there’s nothing. The most successful entrepreneurs and businesses, people do not go to business school, right?

If you do not need that for success at all. Um, and it’s really just on the job training where you learn the most. But Harvard does a wonderful job of teaching. You’d ask like, really good question.

Tony Lopes: [01:11:44] Very interesting. Now, what happened at trilogy that made you want to leave after such a short period of time to go into the military?

Just out of curiosity.

Sarah Ford: [01:11:54] So I was. Yes, I was, I loved the, I started traveling  after college.  does backpacking around Europe and I  yes.  kind of, God always works really hard at school. Try to do a good job. And then I got into my first job and my overwhelming feeling was like, this is it. Like, this is what, when they are retire, like I just go to a job and  so   uh.

Wrong with that, like me, them, it was a really fun how to work for. Okay. Aye did. I did kind of longingly. I thought about, well, maybe I could do something more fun or adventure is like, teach for America  or  Mmm. He actually, the peace Corps not teach for America was really interested in that or, and I was interested in maybe like moving to a cooler down and teaching math or something like eighth grade math or, but the Marine Corps had always been   aye.

My conversation like growing up, because my father had been in the Marines before, I was  orange and so I added, you know, the Marine Corps to that. When I was in Europe, I went to the Normandy beaches and learned a lot about them. Sacrifice. Does that happen there? Really like a kind of a, okay. Okay. The military.

Um, and so I went to talk to a Marine Corps recruiter and they’re very efficient. You if you show promise.

Yeah.

Tony Lopes: [01:13:35] Now you’re in ranch road boots. What would you say is the sort of secret sauce, the most important part of the business for you to your two ranch road boots success?

Sarah Ford: [01:13:46] Nope.

Partnership. Yeah. Huh. Sometimes I think, yes. A test of who can stand up so long. Yes. Because it’s really difficult day in, day out. It’s a lot of fun and I certainly enjoy much more of what I do than it is the parts that I don’t love  to do. But when you’re starting a business from scratch, yes. Okay.   the entrepreneur has  you know, just keep on going.

And I think that that is like the most important  because try a lot of . Okay. And a lot of them. A lot of things won’t work, and so you have to like figure out, okay, quickly, of course, then try something. Nothing else day in, day out as you’re trying to build a success business. Mmm. Negative. That gets really like tiring and 42 now.

So you always have those. Sense of like, this is gonna turn into my wife, it’s working. I’m really, opportunity cost is pretty high. I could go, I could go do something else. And so I think the most important thing that I bring to the table is like  tenacity. Mmm. And just the desire. Yeah, I have, but to build a success.

Tony Lopes: [01:14:57] Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And, but you did touch on marketing a little bit, which I guess you learned while after your stint at Harvard while you were at the consulting

Sarah Ford: [01:15:07] company, correct? Well, I worked at Boston consulting group. I’m not, I work as a VP of sales start up after I left, both in group and before I joined or before I started my business.

Mmm. The marketing. I have a marketing director here at ranch road. Very good at what she does.  yes. Uh, I  that my strength. Yes. Okay.  on the operation. Bye. And the hiring end, you know, for people that  that are better, I hire people that are better at, in their individual fields. And I’m not like  you know, we work, collaborate on, thanks.

But I hired them because they know more than me about this particular area, and I think marketing is one of those in that category. For me. Aye. I did logistics in the Marine Corps and I liked it.  problems are kind of the messier things, yet the more get   pretty good at like making decisions with 80% of the information.

This is all stuff that’s like. Day in day out in the Marine Corps. And it’s also really applicable to running a business as well. That’s very

Tony Lopes: [01:16:14] interesting. And so would you say that that’s your, you said that’s your strength, is putting together teams and sort of high level operations. What would you say is one of your biggest weaknesses and how do you counteract

Sarah Ford: [01:16:26] that?

Hmm. That is not, that’s out. That’s a hard answer. Like a short list, but just trying to figure out which one.

No. Aye. Yeah. Mmm. Mmm.  for it. So I’m impatient for one and. Not like, so I think impatient sometimes if you, you know, I’m like, yes. Okay, we’re going to do that. We’re going to do it now, and instead of, okay, well where is it fit into the whole plan? I’m like, okay, we’re going to do everything right now.  Mmm.

Being like, okay, with it taking six months versus, okay, okay. Why is it going to take this months is all done in a month. Sometimes there’s there. There’s a reason sometimes you should take the six month route versus trying to pile everything into one month. You’ll get better results. You’d be happier with the results at the end of six months.

I’m much more on the, okay, let’s get it all done right now. Okay. You’re saying it takes six months, like why can’t we do it and why? Um, it is not always the best way to do things.

Tony Lopes: [01:17:37] Right. Right. I understand that. I actually ever relate to that a little bit because I’m very similar in that context. When I see a goal or an objective, I just want to shoot right for it and kind of worry about the obstacles and react as we go.

And a lot of times when you’re working with a team, it’s not so easy to do that. Right? So how do you deal with that when you, I would imagine that you’re a very competitive person. Obviously. You’ve. I’m succeeded at a high level in a lot of different arenas. So you also have a strong skillset. So how do you deal with people on your team or in your sort of people that you’re surrounded by when they say, Hey, we got to take a step back and slow down.

How do you overcome your impatience or your propensity to just shoot from the hip?

Sarah Ford: [01:18:30] Not your subordinates team is really important and yeah, so you know, if a person is  I’m still working with them and plan on still working with them.  you have to really. How self responsibility to people. And so that’s like . Yep. Probably, you know, just listening and saying, okay, I see it. I see this calendar.

Right. Mainly I trust you and, um, I believe in you and I believe that you’re right. Is, that’s like, I mean, that’s.  what I do now.  get around that and some things are not so okay. Ordinance. You know, some things are more important to do that with. There’s some things you can say, no, you’re right. You know, you do need to do it quicker and we can get this done faster.

Okay. But I think your team and trust to get giving people responsibility is . Yeah.  really critical and building a happy, happy place for people to work.

Tony Lopes: [01:19:29] Right. That makes sense. Do you rely more on data or on the actual people? I know you mentioned your team in there, but obviously a lot of businesses, especially when you’re looking at scaling and having gotten to Harvard business school, I would imagine you constantly try to aggregate and then analyze as much data about your business as you can, especially since you’re in the eCommerce realm.

So do you focus more so on data or your team and what’s the balance between the

Sarah Ford: [01:19:55] two. We look at data on it daily basis. Yeah. At the end of the day though, okay. He takes the number hers  you have to still go. You have to still make decisions and go with your gut feeling a lot of times about things because there’s so many

First of all, yeah. Data physically significant. Okay. Results and to test things and to test them often. Typically, that doesn’t come with a startup much bigger company where you have that. So yes, we look at data, but at the end of the day, if it’s not super clear, okay, we’ve gone to one  you have to go with your gut feeling about  thanks.

And that you’re running France and you’ve got . Got it. No. Mmm. Everything. Aye.

No worries. But at the end of the day, you have to use judgment to make all these decisions.

Tony Lopes: [01:21:02] That makes sense. That does make sense. Who inspires you as a leader

Sarah Ford: [01:21:07] and why? Alan Gray bill? Mmm.  was my  awesome in the Marine Corps. He, and he was, um, I’m still friends with  today. And you’re  typically not, you know, you’re not friends in the Marine Corps.

When I was a Lieutenant and he was a captain, I wasn’t, yeah, you’re not friends, but you have respect for somebody. And I genuinely like to him as a person by his office and listen, sit down, listen to him for 30 minutes is always an enjoyable thing. Mmm. The thing that, the reason I like, I really like working for him.

I mean she trusted a lot and I always fell like. Look, I’m an overachiever. He treated me like . Yes, and you’re not going to screw it up. Aw, I’m nervous about this. And he’s like, don’t screw it up. Oh, you’ll be fine,

Larry. I know, but I was like, Oh, like he was always on my. Good rooting for us, but we were like, we didn’t want to disappoint him at all. He just treated us like we were capable and knew, you know, he doesn’t, he treated me like, yeah, I really appreciate that. And I enjoyed working him so much. Okay. And I, and I didn’t want to disappoint him and Oh, it is  rather than disappointing him.

Yeah. But, um, I think he was also enjoyable to be around. And. That is also very important for me.  yes. I don’t, I will. I will absolutely, you know, work myself into the ground for somebody if, if they’re working harder than me. And there’s some times really stressed, stressful to work for. Okay. You know, for a longevity and especially in a job

Quit do something else. Right. Awesome. That’s not healthy for me, and I don’t, I think it’s healthy for a lot of people, although you can learn a lot from it personally like that. So I was just a really, I’m smart person and he was fun to be around and he trusted us. Yeah. And he gave us a lot of responsibility.

Tony Lopes: [01:23:18] Interesting and you seem to have carried that forward. I mean, I hear it in what you’re saying about, you know, really focusing a lot on your team and on the people and making sure that they’re happy where they are and that they care about working for you. That’s really interesting. So that’s, that’s great to hear.

Now, what are the current biggest threats to your business?

Sarah Ford: [01:23:44] Okay.

You know, the hardest thing about okay, about our business either has to get cashflow positive on it quickly, which is hard for a fashion brand starting. And so we’re raising money and it is probably one of the most stressful things I’ve ever done deploying. Do I rash

fear because Nope.  so many years, and it’s like, Oh my gosh, we have so many good  going on. So many good people working with us. Um, and I really believe we can be a really brand. Mmm. But if I rented a cash and they all, it all ends very quickly and painfully, and it’s like a, you know, you were in an Adobe brick wall.

That’s where it always keeps me up at night.

Tony Lopes: [01:24:37] Right. That makes a lot of sense. And how much of your energy or time do you spend actually looking at other competitors and then sort of, you know, using that as a tool maybe to analyze yourself and your business and reacting to that. We

Sarah Ford: [01:24:55] look at? Um, yeah. You try to figure out what best, right.

As the czar by looking at it companies perceive as successful. The problem is you don’t really know. Maybe they’re looking, you know, figure out how it make themselves better. So the danger, yeah, just like mimicking each other. Is that it? You’re probably not coming up with. The most like creative solutions, if that makes sense.

Aye. You look and say, Hey, I, you know, I like, I like how this is laid out. Makes sense. So that’s like a good way to like, that’s just a good way to do whatever it is. Mmm. Okay.  and so  I for sure do that. I just, I, you know, pay attention to what people are doing. For example, there’s some companies right now   Mmm.

In any business that has inventory, especially in fashion, a lot of times you get caught. I have all the things I do, no need an inventory, and none of the things I do need buy more of that like quickly, you know? But it’s not quick in her boots. Okay. And then you, you’ve got overstocked, and then all of a sudden those are selling.

Yes. You know, you’re constantly trying to react that I’ve noticed, like some companies are doing labs on their website, whereas people can preorder it the way it is sort of. Yes, things out. And I think that’s good. And that w ranch road  do something like that. So we just, so we don’t have a bunch of inventory that we don’t know if people want, um, you know, if you can get smarter.

Yeah. Like collective, if we can watch each other and all get smarter than that’s better. I mean, I think it’s like more efficient. Yeah. Companies, I’ll get more efficient. Thank you. So I look at, um. I know, uh, I  yes. May not be so healthy. Well, I look at how much money some other companies are raising and they come out with

Yes. Big splashy light. Big numbers. And sometimes, yeah. Yeah. Oh, hello. Well, for me, I can’t, Mmm. You know, I, all I can do is like trying, but I just, sometimes you look at it and you’re just like, yes, seems easy for them. And I know it not, I know that that is not an  good way to look at it. You wonder like, what?

How come they’re able to raise $40 million? You know? And then sometimes like, I look, Oh, look at you, look at them. The fundraising side of things, and that’s probably not  the child they think to focus on, because the reality is like if our competitors are getting  big for, especially with , correct. Numerous shoe sales, that’s, um, that’s very helpful overall.

All of us, I think it grows.

Yeah.

Tony Lopes: [01:27:46] Right. That makes sense. And yeah, I mean, when you’re looking at, it’s almost like Instagram fame, right? Like a social media fame. If you’re looking at others

Sarah Ford: [01:27:55] and only see what they’re

Tony Lopes: [01:27:56] putting out externally anyways, right. If you’re looking at, Oh, they seem to be doing a lot in sales, but they may be a complete wreck on the inside, or they may have a lot of bad debt.

Right.

Sarah Ford: [01:28:08] Yes. Like the problem. Okay. Yep. Bigger. The more zeros you tack onto the revenue. And so I know that they’re facing challenges and I know that  okay, thanks. It’s a huge company, so they never go away. And that’s why I have to remind myself  we do turn into the . $100 million a year company that I think we   aye.

yeah. I have to be comfortable with it. That’s the thing that happened to a business because  just kind of  can you, and so I just, I’m always pretty conscious about thinking like, okay, like this. Yes. This stuff doesn’t go away. I do enjoy it. Mmm. I think there’s different leaders do. That’s like another home.

full learning was, it seems like the entrepreneurial way. Yes. Shown the door after a certain size of revenue because they get replaced as the CEO. Okay. That

Tony Lopes: [01:29:10] makes sense,

Sarah Ford: [01:29:10] right. The joke. Mmm. Yup.

Tony Lopes: [01:29:15] So you, you did mention that you’re fundraising, obviously. How much tougher is it to fundraise for a fashion business than another type of business?

Sarah Ford: [01:29:25] Okay. So, I mean, I have never tried to raise money for another tech. Okay.  I think it’s harder because  doesn’t have the allure of these. Like, I think they like unicorns, like some of the techs companies or, or, um, maybe medical type companies that doesn’t have this, like, Hey, if it hits ginormous. So I think it’s harder for them.

That reason. It’s not as like, sexy. Of an investment, maybe  thing is . Yeah. Mmm. Right. A lot of people that are making the disease vision or not necessarily like, yeah. And to fashion themselves and so, Mmm. That is like, I think that’s harder and just the, I guess . Okay. Okay. Yes. Okay. Cause I wanted that thing.

It’s like 2.3 or 2.5% of venture capital money goes. So a female businesses, and I think a lot of women business owners are saying like, look, I’m trying to solve a problem, female. So a lot of the people that have the money are guys and, and maybe don’t understand that. Okay, this is like a real opportunity.

Um,  . Yes. Right. That makes

Tony Lopes: [01:30:47] a lot of sense. And thank you for bringing up the female empowerment perspective. How do you feel? You’ve been in the military and now you pointed out very aptly that you’re, you know, in the business realm as an entrepreneur, as a female entrepreneur, and trying to generate revenue.

Now your company does sell boots for men and women. Just to clarify, but nonetheless. You’re a female owned and operated business and founded business. So do you find that, have you struggled in those predominantly male environments, and what are you finding today? Is it, you know, what, what are the best practices, so to speak, for other female entrepreneurs who may be listening to this episode, what advice would you give

Sarah Ford: [01:31:30] them.

I did. So why being a female is as a positive thing in a large ease, you bring a different perspective to the table. Um, that said, being a female is, that can be a little bit off awkward because  or the  if, if you’re one female out of a hundred, you stand out more. And so I feel like right or wrong, the things you do, if you screw up, it just gets more eyeballs on you.

And I didn’t, I really didn’t like it.  yep. I’m a female Marine who cares? Like I’m, I’m a Marine and that was important and I needed  do a good job. And then  you know, being a good leader to my Marines and not. Care whether I was a male or female. That was always like really how I was raised.  my dad a little bit, he passed away about just the challenges of racing, but he was like, no, wait, you didn’t entertain.

Oh, it’s female or male. He’s like, well, maybe they just don’t like your business, you know?

Oh yeah. Very blunt about it. And. That is a good   to take as well, because I can’t change, there’s stuff like overnight, it’s not going to change at the time trying to raise this money. So yeah, if I, if I just get  too focused on, Oh, okay. Know I’m a woman. That’s why they’re not investing. Absolutely useless and counterproductive.

Go to what I’m trying to do. And, um.  but I’m more, I am more of a, Oh, aware of it. Yes. Then I used to be and I . Okay. That if I can. Okay. Yup. Positive. Yeah. Data points.  good. And maybe help somebody else. So like normalize it is, I think of it like people are breaking these barriers on the mile that you never could have imagined does it, and then all of a sudden somebody come along after you is like and done.

It makes it easier for the next person. I think that that’s why somebody like. Barriers in our minds are good. Just breakthrough to pave the way for other people, and I do appreciate, even though I don’t like it to focus  so much on  female owned. I do appreciate it. Okay. Okay. Some investors are specifically looking to support.

Female businesses.   I think that that’s good.  I probably used to, whatever they’re more resistive mean. It’s probably true that the more good examples of data, the more people, yeah. Whether it’s female owned or minority owned businesses, that makes it easier for the, the kid who’s maybe sitting in third grade grade right now to do it one day when they’re older.

And I think that’s good. Perfect for us in dab that diversity high levels and businesses make sense.

Tony Lopes: [01:34:33] Some other female entrepreneurs might say that there are still a lot of misogyny from men in the entrepreneurial realm. What advice would you give to those female entrepreneurs to overcome those situations?

Sarah Ford: [01:34:51] I don’t, I totally disagree with it, that I know. And whether it’s  right. You know, intentional or unintentional on my personal belief, Berkeley, unintentional. Um, I will say I’ve had by far and away more supportive and, and I wouldn’t be here today without .  yeah. Cheerleaders and mentors.  get me where I am today.

less than 5% of people. I felt like that though, were working against me. I’m also just . Yeah. For me, like the advice of the is focusing on doing a good job, it  call it out. Absolutely. Uh, very direct. Somebody that you feel like is, it’s trying to kind of covertly work against you. Mmm. Yeah. Maybe bullies are best just confronted right face to face.

What one

Tony Lopes: [01:35:50] message would you give to other leaders to help them succeed?

Sarah Ford: [01:35:57] I find it right. I find a lot of people  good on like an idea. They don’t want someone.  deal their ideas. I don’t want to talk about it, but I really think that it’s good.   okay. It share and defined a group that you can share with or   people get a lot of different  perspective.

It was on things. Instead of just trying to sit on something. Okay, perfect plan or perfect solution and go for it. Um, I really liked  let’s talk through things, especially in difficult situations, like to talk through with people. I’ve heard the advice. Yeah. I think the woman, okay. Mounted a Spanx, and for her though, when she had her business was like

They sent form, it was better to kind of not talk about it cause there may have been people to tell, you know, never going to work. Mmm. So, so certainly there’s that aspect. But for me, I felt like, I guess I get it, I come to a better solution faster if I share with . Okay. And obviously what she said.

Tony Lopes: [01:37:10] That’s a good point. So when you’re opening up those lines of communication, do you set certain rules and fail-safes so to speak, to prevent yourself from encouraging? Yes. Men and women, yes. People, so to speak.

Sarah Ford: [01:37:27] No, I mean, I mean, I’d probably, I am probably a year on the overshare. Uh, okay. And when people, I do sometimes, for example, like my sister, I drove sometimes.

Yeah.  if I already have my decision made up, I won’t ask  her because if she does like the opposite, it’s like there’s certain people in your life, you really have a hard time doing. Not what they told you to do. She’s five years older than me and I have a problem with that with, so,

for example, I want her opinion and I don’t do it. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. You get to hear about it. Okay.

Tony Lopes: [01:38:08] Oh, that’s great. What is a hustle story from early on in your entrepreneurial journey that led you to where you are today?

Sarah Ford: [01:38:17] Oh God. Um, we, um, I feel like that’s, yeah. Mmm. In every aspect.  business. I mean, taking boots, villains.

Like I took these older horse trailers and like a 1974 ORs trailer and borrowed. Nice. Then boyfriend’s like truck and drove drug it all over like Arizona  two. It measure, get in front of people and I was doing like, okay, like, um, where you go buy produce like on Sundays, like the farmer’s market, I was doing craft shows like I was going anywhere and just like, and sometimes I would use like.

Pull it up and do a town like this  there and it would be like crickets. Okay. Oh, trying, I was like trying, including, you know, dragging around a horse trailer. I’m all over it to get to California. I mean, I took it everywhere to just try to get our brand out there and now look back on that. And I’m like, Oh my God.

I’ve tried to then one in Houston and before we had enough inventory. I.  would be in the one in Houston and the who would be the one in Austin and I, I still think is a good idea.

I felt like it was like a showroom, say like, Hey, try them on. Yeah.  and then we’ll ship  so like lug it home and okay. And we were closed like over half at the time because it was like uncle bellwether cause there were, they weren’t. Climate controlled? No. It just, I felt like it was like a good idea, but in reality I have go for it.

No one was willing to stop. No, a hundred degree heat

Tony Lopes: [01:40:06] not even with the promise that the other one would fit just as well when it got back. That’s great. Well, you learn early on, right. That’s part of the growing pains, so to speak.

Sarah Ford: [01:40:18] I know, and I was looking at like, but no votes was doing better. They’re doing these showrooms or they were doing that. Exactly.

when a much more elevated way. Before I hired like Valor marketing director, I was doing everything like, Oh,  pull up to daycare to pick up my daughter. Okay, we got to do an Instagram post today. Awesome. But when out, you know, after I heard her, I was like banned from touching it the ground. So I was always like doing everything.

Thanks. Oh good. And it was looking like to homemade. Yeah, early on.

Tony Lopes: [01:40:55] I think that’s just kind of inherent with any entrepreneurial journey. Am I right? At some point it starts somewhere, first and foremost, right? So when we see

Sarah Ford: [01:41:04] raise money first, take your business plan and go raise it money and do it big. I think we would have burn through.

A lot more cash. Right. Doing it that way. It’s hard to raise money though while you’re in the middle of a business. I think it’s easier when things are going like gangbusters or when they’re, uh, and it’s Ivy ideas date. Sure. And I just was always there to lose somebody else’s funny. And so I did. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that back then.

you know, with the, with the , with a healthy product, cash, you can kind of.

Tony Lopes: [01:41:48] Well, but also the common adage is to try to bootstrap, right? So that you can make the most that you can from the beginning. So quite frankly, a lot of entrepreneurs, probably a very high percentage. Do. Charging of the breach, so to speak, pardon the pun, without any sort of support from investors or funding aside from friends and family maybe, or their own savings like you did.

Right. So you can’t be blamed for trying to, uh, to bootstrap and to do everything at least early on. But you’re right for it too. Escalate to another level. And to become scalable, you have to sort of invest in your team and you really start to, you have to find people that have strategic advantages that at least fill in your weaknesses.

Correct.

Sarah Ford: [01:42:39] Right? Yes, for sure. And you can hit, you hit to limit, especially on a direct, again, to our business on what you can boot strap because okay, you customer acquisition cost is very expensive. Doubling in revenue, double your emphasis. Sorry. And do you have to pre buy that? So it’s not a wholesale relationship, retailers buying it.

So yes, there’s some limits on it, especially with  to carry versus say like a sock. Mmm. So. There’s some limits of bootstrapping that mentality. I would love as we continue to grow, to keep that mentality in the company and how, Mmm. I have people that work  he’d benefit from that. So is a company, no. Like I know there’s ways to set up businesses where everybody can share that works, but then in the profitability of it, so everybody’s willing to, Mmm.

Mmm.  make sure the.

That kind of mentality.

Tony Lopes: [01:43:44] What are you looking at in terms of your 90 day goals, and then let’s say your 10 or 15 year goals.

Sarah Ford: [01:43:52] Yeah. We’ll make it a week. Cool. Cause I like to do things fast.

Yeah. Right now we’re in the middle of developing fall collection photo shoots. Happening, we’re trying to get ahead of, yes, the boots come screaming in from Spain the day before we need them. Um, so I work with, uh, wonderful people that now help me with kind of line development and ordering. They say, Hey, we do, this is the calendar.

Here’s when you have to do things in a year. And all these people come from like very strong, but where backgrounds, Mmm. I’ve been doing it for decades. Okay. Where we are, I’m like literally in the next, yeah, a week or two weeks we’re working on all samples were shooting, spraying, which we’re going to launch like a couple of weeks after.

And so just pulling all of that off. Plus my husband’s retiring.

Tony Lopes: [01:44:53] Wow. You

Sarah Ford: [01:44:53] have a lot going on.

Yes. Or I’m in the middle of moving, moving from 29 palms, California to San Angelo, Texas.

Tony Lopes: [01:45:06] wow. Wow. Very interesting. Very interesting. Cool. And so what can we expect to see from ranch road boots in the next, say. Five years, 10 years. What w where would you like to see the business?

Sarah Ford: [01:45:18] I think we can be an 80 to $100 million a year business that timeframe.

Um, not easily, but that’s not like  I don’t feel like crazy what I’m saying that Mmm. There’s no reason why we can’t and people love to buy from Marcus brand daylight and you know, the transparency that we offer. Right. I think more interesting. Um, and I think we’ll, I know we’ll continue to put out a great product and, and appeal to this.

Okay. Millennial female shopper and continue to provide, you know, we for sure when I continue to grow in men, Mmm. But our focus is.  what am I focus is and what I believe the market will, will take an hour going about it and the people that I’m working with on it. I think we can be a really big  for brand.

Tony Lopes: [01:46:11] That’s wonderful. Wonderful. So if people want to check out. Your company. They can obviously go to ranch road, boots.com how can people get in contact with you if they want to reach you directly?

Sarah Ford: [01:46:25] Email the support email address and any personal messages. Go through that and get it shuttled off to me too.

Tony Lopes: [01:46:33] Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Sarah. I think this was a really informative episode and I hope you’ve had fun. It was great to have you on the show, and we look forward to all of the exciting things that ranch road boots has in store for us in the next decade or so.