Margaret Blankenbaker is the founder of Sew Strong, a GRT run sewing company which produces some very unique products. In this podcast we interview her and learn how she found GORUCK, what her first event was like, and where Sew Strong came from.
Margaret is one of the nicest people we’ve ever met and we were so excited to get this scheduled. We can’t think of a better company to round out the month of November than Sew Strong.
Thanks so much for listening! If you missed any of our earlier episodes you can give them a listen right now. Hopefully you enjoyed the podcast and are excited about the next one. This is very new to us so we would appreciate it if you would cut us some slack as we work on perfecting our methodologies. Did you enjoy the podcast? We’d love a review on iTunes or even our Facebook Page! Didn’t enjoy it? Leave a comment here in the show notes and let us know what we can do better!
Brian: Today I’m chatting with Margaret, who is the founder of Sew Strong. Margaret is a fellow GRT and makes the incredibly popular patch tags and stash tags they’ve probably seen in the Tough group. How are you doing today, Margaret?
Margaret: I’m doing great, fine. Thank you so much for having me on. I love listening to your podcast, and so it’s a great honor to get beyond here and talk to you in person.
Brian: I’m so excited to have you on here. As you know as well, we have a lot of friends in common and everyone just has amazing things to say about you, so I’m incredibly excited that we’re able to talk and finally connect. Thank you for being on.
Margaret: Thank you for having me.
Brian: Before we get into Sew Strong, I want to talk a little bit about your involvement in GORUCK and the GORUCK Community. How did you stumble upon GORUCK?
Margaret: It’s kind of a funny story. In 2015, I had done my first 5k. My mother-in-law actually gave me a challenge, she was going to do the 5k and she said, “Do you want to go with me?” I said, “Sure.” I did. I trained for it and I did the 5k and I loved it and it was such an incredible experience to train for something and then do something physically hard.
Right around that time, I’ve always had a love for backpack. I love sewing them, I love buying them, and I was Googling slick black backpacks, and of course the GR1 came up because it’s very slick and very black and I thought, “This is the coolest backpack I had ever seen.” The pocket design and structure, I had never seen a backpack dealt like that before and it was so practical with really great materials and I fell in love with the backpack first.
Then after doing the 5k I had been looking for another event to do, and then after I found the backpack I found GORUCK have events as well, and so I kind of fell in love all at once with the whole world of the excellent peer that they have, but then also these really neat events that they did.
Brian: That’s awesome. That is really cool. You’ve found GORUCK through the backpacks and then you found the events. Did you sign up for an event right away?
Margaret: I did. When I was at the 5k, I was really blown away by how these different people from difference backgrounds would come together and do this hard physical — To me, was a hard physical thing, and the end they give you free bananas and free granola bars and get a t-shirt. It was like the coolest event. I couldn’t believe this even existed.
I have always loved watching Special Forces documentaries and special Operations documentaries. When I found the backpack and then I found these events and I thought, “Oh my goodness! This is going to be people coming together that have never met and they’re going to do this hard physical thing and you get to spend several hours with an American hero. This is awesome. I was so pumped about this event.
My first event I signed up for was a Light and they said, “If you can do the 5k, you can do a Light.” I signed up and I joined a gym for the first time and I started rucking and I just took like a $15 backpack from Walmart and filled it up with my husband’s barbell weight and started rucking everywhere Louisville I could go and started training for the event. It took about six months of training that I did. Yeah, the first event was the Light in October of 2015 with Cadre David.
Brian: That’s awesome. That is really, really cool. You trained for months up to the event. Your first event was a Light. Leading into that first event, did you get nervous at all or you’re just super pumped because it sounds like you’re amazingly excited about it?
Margaret: I was really, really excited. I get like uber-duber excited, like almost to an annoying degree before an event. I come in just like so excited, but I was nervous. I tried to read every book I could find on Amazon or on Reddit or wherever people were recommending on mental toughness. I may not be physically strongest at the event, but I know I need to learn how to not quit. That’s the beauty of training for a GORUCK event, that there’s the physical training, but then there’s the mental toughness training. I just did a lot of visualization, and while I was rucking I would be thinking about how do you not quit and how do you something harder physically than what you did yesterday and you do that today to push yourself even further.
The more I read and researched, the more I kind of started to realize that these amazing, not only Special Forces soldiers or Special Operations soldiers or elite soldiers or Navy SEALs, one of the things that was a common thread in these books on mental toughness that I red was visualizing the end game or the end goal. I would visualize the end of the Light and I knew if I had a gift to give the cadre at the end, I would be able to finish the event. Found a sewer, so I quilted a gun clinging mat. It’s like a regular quilt of honor, but it was like a mini one, and I wanted to thank him for his service. This was I had something to give at the end of the event. I know I had to finish so I could give him this gift and thank him for serving our country. That training really helped me lead up to the event and give me courage to — It’s not only to show up, but to do it and join the team and be a part of the team.
Brian: That’s awesome. That’s both a really nice thing to do and it’s just such a smart idea to have some — Because you spent so much time making it and if you had quit you wouldn’t have been able to present it. It’s a good way to buy-in.
Margaret: Yes, exactly.
Brian: You completed the Light, I take it, and presented the quilt to the cadre. Did you have a good time at the Light?
Margaret: Oh my goodness! It was so amazing. It was such a blast. It was all the fun I had had at a 5k but on the steroids. The first — I’m so glad I have done this mental toughness training and thinking through and just deciding, “I’m not going to quit,” because within the first 10 minutes my body was physically ready. It was so much harder than what I had thought of and what I had expected.
Cadre David is such an excellent human, but as a cadre, he is so intense and kind of scary. His theme was to do zoo animals, and so we were doing, as you can imagine, bear crawls and crab walks and we had to pretend to be snakes and put our rucks on our backs and slither through the grass. The first 10 minutes was just so intense and it felt like an hour, but it was amazing. Even in the middle of the physical difficulty of doing it and feeling like, “I don’t think I can breathe anymore. I don’t know if I can take another step.”
Our team came together, and there are several GRTs that had done many events that were there that just kind of showed us what to do and how to come together, and that’s what I love about GORUCK events, is you can take a group of people that have never met or that comes from very different beliefs or walks of life and backgrounds; military or civilian, and through adversity and carrying really heavy things and doing really hard things while you’re chaffing, you bond with these other people and you form a team and there’s something really special about that that I think GORUCK is kind of dialed into. That’s what the cadre did so well at each of the events. Yes, it was a total blast and I loved it so much.
Brian: That’s awesome, and it’s so true. It’s one of the reasons why I keep coming back time and time again to events is it’s just amazing to me all the new people there who are willing to sign up for something like this. It’s an amazing community.
[0:10:15.5] Brian: You completed the GORUCK Light. Did you want to sign up for another event right away or were you pretty burnt out from all the physical aspects of that?
[0:10:25.7] Margaret: You know what? If there has been another event that night, I rather would have been at that night. I was so excited and fell in love with this whole new community and the concept of pushing yourself beyond what you could do physically. Even within that 10 minutes when I felt like I couldn’t physically go on, I was like, “I’m going to do this the rest of my life. These are the coolest events I’ve ever been a part of.” I was ready to sign up for another one.
Brian: Oh my gosh! I love it. I love it. You have signed up for another event after that one?
Margaret: I did. Yes. I did my Christmas present. I got so excited about the event. I told everybody about the events. My husband laughed because he said — I told people about GORUCK, about as much as I told them about Visa. He said I was like evangelizing for GORUCK, “Oh! You guys need to try this event, and this is so cool.”
For Christmas, he gave me the gift of a Tough the next April, which was so special to get to do with my husband and for us to train together and to ruck together and do the event, complete the event together. Cadre Aaron was our cadre, and he was amazing, incredibly learned so many lessons. I love that each event that you go to, even if you do multiple events with the same cadre, but each event and each cadre give you such a different set of lessons and perspectives and you come away growing in a whole new area you didn’t even know existed. Like with Cadre David, his big lessons were perception, action and will. With Cadre Aaron, John and I were at a whole new other set of lessons of appreciating the sacrifice of soldiers that lay down their lives and learning how to truly honor them and how to push past what you literally think you can’t go on, you can go two more lies carrying someone on your back. That was our next event.
Then the other event that I had done was last October, the Buffalo Trace event here in Louisville, and I’ve suckered my best friend into signing up for the event and we did it and we had Cadre Jeffrey and Cadre Danny Stokes were the cadre there, and that one was really a fun event too.
Brian: That’s awesome. I love how you can sign up for the same event, another GORUCK Tough, but just based on the cadre that shows up, it can be an entirely different event. I think that’s one of the amazing things that keep people coming back again and again.
Margaret: Yeah, absolutely.
Brian: Your husband bought you a GORUCK Tough entry for Christmas. That’s correct?
Brian: That’s amazing. He did that event with you.
Margaret: Yes, he did.
Brian: Was that his first event?
Margaret: It was, and we both always spent time watching Special Operations documentaries together and reading biographies together of American heroes. He saw how much fun I had for the event and how much fun I had rucking and I said, “Hey, listen, you’ve got a backpack, let’s just get out and ruck together.”
It really does something for your marriage where you get out and take a walk with yourself and things kind of that maybe are intense at home can kind of dissipate when you’re out and you’ve got weight in your backpack and you’re walking all over our nation and pushing the limits of what you think you can do together.
I think GORUCK is great for marriages. If you have spouse that is willing, go for it, find an event. To me, it was the most romantic gift, because it was something we could do together and that was really precious. On top of that, he got me a GR1, which I mean that was amazing, because I got to have the actual ruck in the event too. It was really special.
Brian: That is awesome. What a wonderful gift. This episode will be airing in November, so people will be looking for gifts for their spouses. As Margaret has said, a GORUCK Tough event is a good gift.
Margaret: Yes, agreed. Agreed.
Brian: That’s amazing. Let’s move in to Sew Strong a little bit if you’re ready. When did you decide to start Sew Strong?
Margaret: We officially started with the name of our company, Sew Strong, in the fall of 2016, a little over a year ago. Yeah, fall of 2016 is when we officially started.
Brian: That’s awesome, and it sounds like you’ve been sewing for a decent amount of time before that.
Margaret: Yes, I’ve been sewing for about six years now. I think it’s six or six and a half years now. I love sewing. It was a hobby I’ve had into kind of later in life. The sweet lady at our church who’s been a mentor for me for many years taught a sewing class and I said, “I’ve never done that before.” My mom was a beautiful seamstress, and her mother was a seamstress, and so I thought, “This would be a great opportunity to try this out,” and I did. I got behind the sewing machine and just — Oh my goodness! It was like two friends meeting for the first time. I loved it. I love taking a pile of fabric, cutting it up into pieces and then making something, especially a gift for someone else that will touch their heart that you took the time to make it. I just thought that was really special, and so I’ve loved sewing now for about six years.
Brian: That’s amazing. What was the first thing that you sewed that you were proud of?
Margaret: The very first thing I made was a Christmas stockings, and I made one for my mom and one for my girls and one for my dog. That was really special to make, because our dog didn’t have a Christmas stocking, and this way he was able to have his own. That was the very first thing that I made.
Brian: That is wonderful. Then I guess following up on that, what is the most interesting or possibly different thing that you’ve sewn?
Margaret: Well, the most different thing, I can’t tell you yet, because it’s one of our new products that’s going to come out in 2018 that is super-duper cool. You’ll have to stay tuned for that. Could I tell you one of my favorite things that I’ve sewn?
Margaret: Okay. One of my favorites was the quilt of honor that I made for one of the cadre last year, and it was so special to make. It was a large American flag and I was able to get the members of — It was for Cadre Aaron. I was able to contact him and get the names of the men on his ODA team in Special Forces and embroider their names along the outside of a flag. One of the members on his team had passed way, been killed in the line of duty. He’d been in Special Forces and then he became a law enforcement officer. It was such an honor to literally lift my machine, sew their names into the fabric and pray for them and pray for their families. You can do research on their names and find out who they were and the lives that they — The one soldier that passed away, the life that he lived and the legacy he left behind and literally stitching every 50 star on there. It was just an incredible experience and such an honor to spend that much time with Old Glory and red, white and blue fabric everywhere. I just have the national anthem on repeat and every version you kind of ever imagine while I was sewing it and it was such a patriotic experience. Then it’s really neat, the Cleveland area rucking crew. Do you know Brian Singland out in Cleveland?
Brian: He and Molon Labe CrossFit out there, they were amazing, and I was able to mail the quilt to them and they were able to present it to Cadre Aaron for me, and that was last year that we did that. That was my most favorite thing that I got to sew.
Margaret: That’s incredible. What a story. That’s amazing. I can definitely see why that’s the favorite thing you’ve made. Moving into Sew Strong, what was the first product that you made?
Brian: The first product we made was kind of even before Sew Strong was even formed. After the first Light I did, I was so pumped about this patch. The patch, even though it was just a piece of fabric with some Velcro on it, it represented so much to me. The memory of the event, the training that went into the event and the cadre, Cadre David, and all the lessons that he taught and all these new friends that I got to meet and several of them I’m still friends of today.
This patch I loved so much, and I didn’t have a GORUCK bag at the time, and so I wanted a way to carry this patch around with me and just show it to everybody I could show it too. I went to Home Depot and got some Velcro and I was like, “I’m going to make myself a key fob out of Velcro so I can carry this thing around. I did and I got a grommet set and put a grommet in it and that’s what the original patch tag was, where it came from.
We started with the patch tags and if I used it, I thought, “Oh! This would be a great gift for someone.” When I do events, especially if it’s a smaller event, I like to buy gifts for all the participants or make gifts. So the first event, I made bookmarks for everyone. For the Tough, I wanted to make these what they didn’t know would be a patch tag, but would eventually become a patch tag. I made a whole bunch of them and gave them out at the events. I told three GRT, Tina Streeter. She is an amazing human, one of the strongest one that I know. I had sent her a picture of these and she said, “Oh! Margaret, you need to sell those on Ruck Mall.” I thought, “Oh, no. I just make them for gifts for people.” She really encouraged me to start selling them. I’ve put them on Ruck Mall and I thought, “Oh, probably just of couple of people will buy them.”
They started flying like hot cakes, and I found myself all of a sudden sewing every free minute I got and we were able to get — I’d set up vise a in my garage so I grind the grommets in and not hammer them all in by hand, but to grind them in with a vise.
That’s where our first product came from, was the patch tag, and we have the patch tag before we even had Sew Strong.
Margaret: That’s awesome. Did the first patch tag, that kind of give you the idea then to start Sew Strong? It did. Once we started selling them a lot on Ruck Mall, I kind of started thinking, “You know what? This could be really neat to have a small business.” I’ve been looking for something to do kind of on the side to just have a well-supplemental income, just something on the side, a hobby that I love, and it kind of fell into place with the patch tag selling them and so many people wanting them all over the country and I thought, “Well, maybe we can start a business. I’ve never done that before.”
So I went to the library and got books on how to start a business and watched a lot of YouTube videos and that’s where we started the actual business. The name comes from — Sew Strong comes from a bible verse in Proverbs where it talks about, describing a woman and what a strong woman looks like. It’s Proverbs chapter 31, and it says, “She makes her arms strong for her tasks.” I really think that that’s a picture of womanhood, and especially motherhood as well, that often times we aren’t naturally strong enough for what we need to do, but we have to make ourselves strong. For me, a lot of my strength comes from God and from my faith, but also from doing really hard, physical things and having wonderful people around me that push me to do strong things. Since I love to sew, Sew Strong was born, and that’s where the name came from.
Brian: I love it. That’s just such a wonderful history behind the name. That is really cool.
Margaret: Thank you.
Brian: It sounds like the reception to your initial product was pretty awesome from the community.
Margaret: Oh, yes. If you were to pick a customer-base, I’m so thankful to Jason McCarthy for starting GORUCK for so many reasons, but also because he has kind of made this catalyst of a way that all these amazing people, GRTs, can come together and interact with each other. They’re the best customers ever. They’re very straight-shooting. They’ll tell you what they like, what they don’t like and they’re, for the most part that I’ve met, almost all of them have been very honest and very encouraging and very supportive. Not only do they buy your products, but then they go tell three other people, “Hey, you need to go buy this.” It’s a great community of people that love to work hard and do hard things and just will literally give you the shirt off their back to help you. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have the best customers in the world, is the majority of the people who buy them. They were very supportive in the beginning.
Brian: That is awesome. I’d have to agree. The GRT community is the best community. It might be because I’m part of it and you’re part of it, but —
Margaret: I’ll take it.
Brian: Yeah, it’s just been so wonderful talking with all these different GRT on the podcast and just interacting on Facebook, Twitter, just everywhere. It’s really hard to find a GRT that’s a bad person. It’s been great.
Margaret: I agree. Brian, I will say that you have been a huge part of making this community really special just with not only with All Day Ruckoff. The neat thing is you have the aspect of the AARs, after action reviews, and so many people that are new to this community are new to special events or specific events. They can go on and read, “Okay. Here’s what it was like. Here’s what happened and here is how someone train for it.” You have training programs and right gear that go with your ruck. Now that you have this amazing ruck, you can get cool gear to go with it. I think you’ve really started something special that not only brings the community together, but the cool thing is now with the podcast, and that’s why I’m such a geek about your podcast. I love listening whenever they come out. It’s so neat to get to go inside the organization, inside of headquarters, who’s there, what they like, and then they get to hear the description of different events that I have never done before that I would never think to do, but after the podcast I think, “Oh! I did sign up. That’s awesome.”
Brian: Thank you. I’m smiling so much right now. Thank you so much for that. It’s been just an absolute blast starting the podcast and talking to all these people that generally wouldn’t have a reason to call them and talk to them. it’s been really fun. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying it. That makes me really happy.
You started out with the patch tag and that did awesome. Your next product was the stash tag.
Margaret: Yes. This one has a really cool story too. After we did the patch tags and they were selling well, Cadre Aaron had actually contacted me and said, “Hey, I would love for a way to carry my patches but also have a conceal pocket, put cash or a key or just a small compartment. Could you design one for me?” I was like, “Absolutely. Anything for you.”
We worked together to kind of design a little prototype of a pocket inside of a stash tag that’s closed with a hook and lid closure and it’s just the right size for cash or a key or bobby pins. I personally keep my store cards, like your gas cars and your grocery cards. I keep mine in there.
Anyway, when he first came with this idea, I was like, “Oh, great. Sure. I’m make you a couple.” I made him some, mail them off. Didn’t really think much more about it. A couple of months later, Logan from Rogue Dynamics contacted me and said, “Hey, these would be really great with a pocket.” I said, “Well, funny you mentioned that. We’ve got — Check out this design.”
We started contacted back and forth and he wanted to get his logo, which is so cool. Rogue Dynamics has an awesome logo with the socks. He said, “Well, I’ll order some from you if you can embroider my logo on them. I was like, “Okay.”
He doesn’t know this, so I guess after he listens to the podcast, he will. I have never embroidered anything in my life and I thought, ‘Well, I really want him to buy these tags.” I just went around every shop in Louisville I could find that had embroider machines and said, “Will this machine sew on Velcro? Will this machine sew on Velcro?” Finally, I found a shop that had a machine that would work and I got on YouTue and learned real quick on how to embroider and started embroidering stash tags, what would become the stash tags. We got the Rogue Dynamics logo on them.
Then another company that Logan connected me with, a guy named Mike and he has grayman industry and he’s got a really cool thing going on. His goal is to really push — Kind of there’s a stigma and a stereotype around the term gray man and what people think that means. He has a passion to really help people understand to be aware of their surroundings and be open to helping other people and being hyper aware of what’s around you so you can help people and prevent bad things from happening but also protecting your family.
Anyway, I got connected with him and got his — He has a really cool logo. You got his logo on some stash tags, and through Logan, that really was a catalyst to really take Sew Strong in a different way. It’s like I really want this to become a full-time business for us where we grow and we make custom Velcro products for people. That’s where the stash tag came from and now we have them. We just put them up in our shop for sale, the plain one, last week.
Brian: That’s awesome. Logan is an amazing guy. I have talked to him for years and finally was able to connect with him the beginning of this year down in Vegas at Shot Show and it was great to meet him in person. He is so awesome. If he’s listening, thank you Logan for all that you do for everything with Rogue Dynamics and for helping out Sew Strong.
Margaret: Absolutely. Yes a big shout out and thank you to Logan. What he did? He just kind of — This is what I found with a lot of GRTs and this is why I love having a small business and working with other GRT small businesses, is that they will just take you under their wing and say, “Here’s what I’ve learned. Here’s what I recommend.”
A lot of the business world is cutthroat and very — You kind of have to watch your back. I think you should always be aware, but Logan just absolutely was such a help in every way in every step of this process, and that he said, “Anything I can do to help you, just let me know.” He’s very humble. Yes. He and his wife are great. They’re a great couple and do a great job with Rogue Dynamics.
Brian: That’s awesome. That’s definitely something I really like about this community is I feel like you can be really open what you’re planning on doing and people aren’t going to try and steal your stuff. That’s great.
Brian: I noticed that you’re now selling, in addition to the patch tag and the stash tag, you’re selling Honor Guard patches on your website. Is Honor Guard an important program to you?
Margaret: Yes, so very much. I get so excited talking about this. I’ve realized last year when we first launched, so many people came to me and said, “Hey, do you sell patches, or can you connect me with someone that sells patches?”
I knew that when we were going to re-launch our website, I wanted to have some kind of patch tag for sale that people could buy a patch tag or a stash tag and have some patches to go with it. I didn’t want just any old patch. I really wanted something that would be meaningful to people and that would help promote gratitude. I have been looking for a patch that said thank you for long time. I would see a couple come up on Ruck Small. I said, “Oh, that’s great,” and I’d buy some and I’d give them out to people.
Then Kevin Maestri from Knotted Cord, he actually connected me with Chris from Honor Guard and said, “Hey, there’s this guy doing these really cool thank you patches. You need to check them out.” I checked out the patch, I ordered one, and they were so well-made. The embroidery is beautiful. It’s really quality work, teal tight embroidery. I love it. It was good quality. It came with a thank you card and it just came really well-packaged, and Chris has done a very good job of just making it to be really special that you’re proud of to get out to people.
The minute I found these patches, I thought, “This is what I’ve been looking for.” I got in touch with Chris and said, “Hey, do you think we could sell this on our website? I love to help promote gratitude.” I think our communities, we have so much freedom in this country. I know there’s a lot of heat a lot of terrible things going on, but at the end of the day, if you compare America to so many other countries in the world, we have it so amazingly good here. That’s thanks to our soldiers and our first responders and our law enforcement officers and firemen, so many people that put their lives on the line everyday so that we can do these great things, like pursuing Sew Strong, and living with freedom.
I really want to thank them as much as we can in every opportunity. Sometimes I always found when I would say thank you for your service to someone, I really wanted to give them something to take with them so that they could be reminded later on not just that someone said thank you, but that someone really cared and that they are appreciated. When they have dark and hard days, they can pull that patch out and say, “Oh, yeah. Someone does care.”
This was such a great fit. Great partnership to team with Honor Guard and really help them promote what they’re doing of thanking law enforcement officers and fire fighters and military personnel. There’s so many other people in the community, and Chris — Actually, Honor Guard, they have many other patches and the three that we have on our website. You’ll have to go to Honor Guard’s Facebook page and check out what they have going on. Yes, I was so excited to be able to be able to offer those on our website.
Brian: That’s amazing. For those who are listening and don’t know about Honor Guard, do you want to explain what the patches look like and what you’re supposed to do with them?
Margaret: Yes. The thank you patches, they’re all the thin like. If you think of the thin blue line for law enforcement officers, it’s a black patch with a thin blue line on it and it’s just simply says in white embroidery thank you on it. When you order one, it comes with a thank you card that says, “Thank you for your service, your sacrifice and your strength.”
It’s just a really neat way of giving a thank you gift to someone that also it can go on a patch tag or a stash tag that you can give to them and they can then carry it on their keys. Yes. Honor Guard first started by Chris who was a corrections officer in California. He has started — People don’t realize, he had been a firefighter, he had been a first responder, EMS. He’s done the full gamut, and now he’s a correction’s officer. He just found that there’s so many people that just never appreciated. He felt like he wanted to be appreciate in his job, but there’s not a lot of people out there thanking someone. He saw other people in his job that were not being appreciated and he said, “I’m going to change that. I’m going to start thanking people.”
He started designing patches and he actually ended up going across the country, kind of like Jason McCarthy did when he first started GORUCK. Chris went across the country just giving out these thank you patches as many as he could. Now, Honor Guard is an organization that tries to encourage and care for and thank the families of the first responders, the military and law enforcement officers and also thank the actual people as well.
Brian: That’s amazing. It’s such a cool program and it’s such a cool idea. I know at least at some of the events that I’ve been at, some of the GORUCK events, I’ve seen people with the thank you patches handing them out throughout the event. It’s a really awesome idea. If you’re listening and you like the sound of that, you should definitely check out Honor Guard.
Margaret: Absolutely. Two, especially GORUCK events, a lot of times, especially in Tough, the overnight, you’ll run into law enforcement officers or a cadre will connect with local fire departments. It’s a great idea to get a bunch of patches and have them ready. Two, people are always asking, “What are you guys doing? What is GORUCK?” Put a little GORUCK card in there and you can pass out thank you and tell them about GORUCK and just really be out there doing the good work.
Brian: That’s perfect. That is awesome, and that is such a good idea. What’s next in store for Sew Strong?
Margaret: Next, we’re going to be focusing on our products. We have two or three different products that we’re hoping to release and that we’re going to be releasing in 2018. This year, I used to make all of the tags by hand and then doing the grommets myself and hand-sewing everything. Then because of Logan and his awesome support, I ended up sewing so much or sewing about 60 hours a week in addition to — We also homeschool our three girls, and so I’m a homeschool home. Then we’ve got caring for the home and being a wife and everything else and I found that my time was really strapped.
Through some amazing travel squad GRTs, I was able to get connected with a small GRT manufacturer in Seattle of all places. I love Washington. Now, we manufacture all of our tags. Because of that, I’m able to have the time to develop new products on work on the research and development side of things and run the business side of things, and that has freed me up to be able to plan several new products that we have coming out. I’m excited. I think people are going to really like them.
Brian: I’m very excited to see what they are. That is so awesome that you’re able to — You kind of hand that portion of, because 60 hours a week of sewing on top on everything else that you’ve going on; homeschooling and being a mom, there’s no way that you’d be able to continue to innovate Sew Strong and come up with new products. You would have no time to think about it. You’d be spending all of your waking hours sewing.
Margaret: Yes. Yes. I did it for a while. That was hard. Have you heard the phrase when people say I’ll sleep when I’m dead?
Margaret: It was kind of like that for a while, but it’s funny because running a small business, I was talking to someone about this the other day. When you’re an entrepreneur or you have a small business, you work ridiculous hours, but at the same time you’ll love it. You’ll love every minute of it. It was really nice to be able to hand off that big portion of it and I was able to go back to making quilts of honor again and the ton that I do so is sewing new things and new ideas. That’s exciting to get to do.
Brian: That is exciting. That’s awesome. I’m sure you didn’t have nearly as much time for the fun projects, because after spending 60 hours a week sewing the patch tags, you probably didn’t want to spend another 10 hours sewing something else. You’d rather get a few hours of sleep.
Margaret: Yeah. I think my family was kind of glad to have mama back too. We really love homeschooling. It’s been a great fit for our family, and so I think I was a nicer teacher when I didn’t have to sew 60 hours a week anymore too.
Brian: I’m sure. We’ve been spending a lot of time talking the patch tags and the stash tags and those Honor Guard patches. Where can people find all of your products?
Margaret: On our website, our website is wwe.sewstrong.net, and sew is spelled like sewing, S-E-W S-T-R-O-N-G.net, and you can find all the patches there. You can find links to Honor Guard’s website, if you want to go check out what they have going on. Then we have all of our patch tags and stash tags and we even have bundles where you can get all three patches and patch tags to go with them. You can find all that on our website.
Brian: Perfect. For those listening, if you can’t remember sewstrong.net, just check the show notes and I’ll definitely have links in there to everything.
Margaret: Awesome. Thank you.
Brian: Before we go, are there any shout outs you want to give?
Margaret: Yes. I have two. The first one is for the whole GRT community. I wanted to share a tailor to that quote with everyone, because we’re such a great community and we’re a mass of people that like doing hard things. Would you mind if I shared a quick quote?
Brian: Please do.
Margaret: Okay. This is so perfect for GRTs. Petty Roosevelt said, “A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heard and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness if the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage. For us, it’s the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.”
Brian: That’s perfect.
Margaret: It’s a great GRT quote.
Margaret: I love it. That’s really helped me in some harder times. I go back to that.
Brian: That is awesome. That is a perfect quote.
Margaret: The second shout out, it’s actually for my husband, John. This summer, my husband joined the Army and he, as of next Wednesday, by the time this airs, he will probably already have graduated. He is graduating from basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I just want say, babe, I’m so proud of you. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you again, and we love you and we support you and we can’t wait. We can’t wait to reconnect. I know that the GRT community is praying for you and backing you and you have an army behind you and we love you.
Brian: That’s awesome. I’m so excited for you.
Margaret: Thank you so much.
Brian: Of course. Margaret, thank you so much for taking all these time out of your day. I know you’re very busy. You have a lot going on, but it’s just been so fun to finally connect and talk, because I’ve heard just so much about you and I’m glad that we’re finally able to do this. Thank you.
Margaret: Thank you, Brian. Thanks for all you do for the community. You bring people together and you really bring forth the GORUCK — Kind of bring together the headquarters and then the GRTs. I remember when I first find GORUCK just scouring the web and Reddit and every website and reading every article Jason wrote on the GORUCK page. What I love is that the new GRTs coming in can find your podcast and learn so much more than the information that’s readily available because of what you’re doing. Thank you for having me and thank you so much for all you do for the community.
Brian: Thank you. That really means a lot. That means a lot. Take care, Margaret. Thank you again and have just a wonderful rest of your day, and I’m super excited that this coming Wednesday you’ll get to see your husband.
Margaret: Thank you so much.