Mom Boss Interview: Anna Zornosa - Founder & CEO of Ruby Ribbon

Happy Wednesday, Mamas! I woke up this morning at 4:30 excited to get up and get to work (which, if you know me and my night owl ways, is a pretty big deal), as we have a BIG interview in store for today!

Side Hustle Moms: Meet the ultimate boss babe, Anna Zornosa.

As per her bio on Ruby Ribbon, Anna Zornosa's career has included leadership positions at startups, as well as large public companies. She founded Ruby Ribbon in 2011 after being inspired to create a unique everyday shapewear apparel company, whose products are only available through social commerce. She serves as an Advisor to several other startups including: Trulioo.com, Motista, Inc, Glam.com, and Chloe & Isabel. Previously, she served as EVP of the Cobalt Group, Vice President, Yahoo!, Chief Marketing Officer, Knight Ridder Digital, and CEO, Topica, Inc. She has both a Masters and Bachelor's degrees from the University of Wisconsin, and lives in Burlingame, CA with her family.

It isn't every day that I get to chat with the CEO of a Silicon Valley company, so better believe that I took full advantage and thought long and hard about what to ask! Without further ado, here is the fabulous Anna:

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It is such an honor to be speaking with you today, Anna! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Before founding Ruby Ribbon, I spent 20 years working in Internet services companies both big and small. Career highlights include roles as a vice president at Yahoo! and the chief marketing officer for the digital division of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain.

In 2011, the last company I was part of sold to the ADP Corporation.

At that point, I considered many options, including retirement, but was inspired to create a shapewear company that doesn’t force women to choose between comfort or style.

In your own words, just what is Ruby Ribbon?

Ruby Ribbon is a body-shaping and bra-alternative apparel company. Not only does Ruby Ribbon differentiate itself with its wire-free, variable compression product line, the company sells its apparel products directly to consumers using a nationwide network of technology-empowered independent stylists.

Ruby Ribbon offers bras, camisoles, shapers and more that are made by women and for women. Its innovative products reflect the company’s response to the changing needs of American women, addressing both the need for real support while providing comfort and style.

Did you know that over the past 20 years, the average bra size has increased from a 34B to a 34DD? At the same time, in part due to the pain under wires inflict on more endowed women, market share for sports bras has increased – but sports bras have the undesired side effect of compressing and flattening a woman's breasts.

Enter Ruby Ribbon, which has created wire-free products that offer both support and style, as well as variable compression that’s slimming and smoothing. Not only is variable compression more flattering, it is also much more comfortable (uniform compression, which most competitive products feature, is too constricting and just doesn’t work with a woman’s curves).

More specifically, our shapewear technology and construction solve a number of common body challenges, such as: smoothing your core, shaping your legs, leaning out your hips, and lifting your bust.

How did you come up with the idea for Ruby Ribbon? How did you know where to even begin in building a clothing company?

My “aha moment” came when I escaped to the ladies room in the middle of a social event to throw my ugly and uncomfortable shapewear item in the trash and noticed several other women had done the same thing.

Coming from the world of media and Internet, I had no idea how to build a clothing company, but I was motivated when I grasped the market potential and need. Ruby Ribbon started as a crazy idea in my living room in Burlingame, California in 2012 and today we're a nationwide company. It’s been quite a journey!

What did the beginning stages of Ruby Ribbon look like and how did you scale it to the size it is today?

Ruby Ribbon entered the market in Q4 2012 and I seed funded the company myself early on because I so firmly believed in our mission and product.

We began our national expansion in 2014 after fine-tuning product, defining stylist training and compensation, and ensuring scalable operations in markets. This was at the start of the gig economy boom and capitalized on the desire of women to find a side hustle.

We later raised raised more than $11M from investors Trinity Ventures, Mohr Davidow Partners and DBL Partners and our network of stylists who focus on social selling really helped us achieve viral, word of mouth customer growth.

Just what is a Stylist and what made you decide to use this model for selling?

Today, virtually all of Ruby Ribbon’s business is conducted through independent stylists who work their business part-time or full-time and always flexibly as they juggle competing priorities.

We have more than 2,600 stylists nationally, who invest $250 in exchange for product samples and the ability to be paid commission on sales (and can purchase additional samples using a stylist discount).

The company supports the stylists with sophisticated web-based training programs—which it calls Ruby Ribbon Academy— as well technology tools including their own personalized e-commerce sites, templates for CRM-marketing, and training to conduct sales in-person and via online events.

Our stylists sell the garments through at-home parties in order to ensure our customers are in a comfortable and intimate setting where they can speak freely about their bodies and the product fit. 

Stylist sales commissions range from 20% to 40% and the average sales event has sales of $850. Some women make over six figures, and it is their full-time job. Other women sell Ruby Ribbon to supplement part-time jobs or in addition to their roles as stay-at-home moms.

What makes Ruby Ribbon different from other clothing companies like Lu La Roe or Cabi?

One key differentiator is that Ruby Ribbon requires a minimal investment from stylists. Unlike the Lu La roe wholesale model which requires its sales consultants to purchase and manage a very large inventory, a Ruby Ribbon stylists can very successfully sell our line with only a few samples on-hand. We also have a product that women both need and love and require multiples of: our wire free support Cami.

Can you walk us through a day in your shoes?

When you start a company, you take on much more than a new job. It’s truly a lifestyle. I’m very hands-on and love to have a personal relationship with our Stylists and customers. I’m not the type of CEO who is locked in an ivory tower – I’m in it with our Stylists day-in-day-out.

Typically, I start my day answering emails over coffee and breakfast. I’ll usually have a call with East Coast teammates in the morning. When I’m not on the road, I’m at the office, meeting with my team, looking at sales figures, planning and reacting to what is going on with our Stylists. A couple days a week I also do an opportunity call with potential new Stylists. I love to meet them and answer their questions about Ruby Ribbon.

Can you give advice to any moms out there dreaming of launching their own company?

My advice to other aspiring “mompreneurs”—and women in general—is to wake up every day and say, “Today I will have more confidence.”  I really believe that confidence is a woman’s most beautiful accessory because when you have confidence everything else comes easier and looks better! I also suggest surrounding yourself with great people whose expertise and skill sets will augment your own.

What has been your proudest moment since launching Ruby Ribbon?

There are many! We have had 60 months of consistent growth and now have a presence in all 50 states. We’ve sold more than 500,000 camisoles and empowered 2,600 women to earn incomes. These milestones all show me that we’ve had a tangible impact on a lot of women’s lives and that makes me very proud.

So amazing, right?! To learn more about Anna, Ruby Ribbon, or becoming a Stylist, please visit Ruby Ribbon's website, Facebook, and Instagram

Make Learning Fun with ABCMouse (Plus a Special Discount)

Please Note: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small kickback -- which, if I am being honest, will go back into growing the site -- if you sign up via any of the links. Thank you for supporting the Side Hustle Mom mission!

For many school-age kids, summer vacation is here, which goes hand-in-hand with being outside 24/7, playing with friends, and the dreaded summer slide ("the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year"). While I am constantly reading to, crafting with, and taking taking my boys (ages 4 and 18 months) on little educational field trips around town, I still worry about my oldest losing his newfound writing skills over break, which is where the science behind ABCMouse comes in handy.

If you have a toddler or young child who has watched PBS Kids, Sprout, Disney, or Nickelodeon in the last year, there is a good chance that you are familiar with advertisements for an online, early learning academy called ABCMouse. Like most commercials and advertisements, I didn’t give this program a second thought… After all, how great could this online learning program be? Aren’t there a million others? What makes this one in particular so special?

Fellow parents: I cannot rave about this program enough.

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Starting from the time he was one, my husband and I were constantly working with our oldest on numbers and letters, so he was starting to get it/point to most of them on command, but adding ABCMouse into the mix after he turned two took it above and beyond! 

By creating fun games that go more in-depth than most parents think to go (there is an entire series on each letter, number, color, shape, etc.), ABCmouse is creating a safe and enjoyable learning experience for children and parents alike.

One of my favorite things about ABCmouse is their way of teaching through song — isn’t it amazing how much easier things are to remember when set to music? When I was in kindergarten, we learned a song about the continents that has always stuck with me, and now my two-year-old is learning catchy tune about the sound each letter makes, as well as classic children’s songs (I’m a Little Tea PotFive Little Monkeys, etc.). Another plus to using the program? It is a fantastic bribing tool! (“Jax, do you want to do ABCmouse? Okay, we can do it as soon as you take a bath!”)

Moms and dads: I truly cannot recommend this program enough. It’s affordable, educational, reinforces what you’re already teaching, and is a perfect way to either jump start your child’s education or keep it up during these hot summer months! 

Ready to start ABCMouse? Right now they are offering Side Hustle Mom readers one month FREE or 2 years for only $99 (a 49% savings)! Click here to get started. 

Mom Boss Interview: Nancy Miracle from Miracle Farms

I am so so excited about today's mom boss, not only because she is one of the hardest working and most talented people I know, but because she is my mother-in-law as well :P If you know my "Mamma Nancy," you know she does it all: Farming, crafting, selling, flipping, AND working full-time at a school... she is seriously AMAZING (and she puts 100% into everything she does). I can go on and on about this fabulous woman, but I will let her tell you the rest:

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Nancy, can you please tell our readers who haven't had the pleasure to meet you more about you?

I am 55 years old and have worked for South Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative for the past 5 years. Basically I travel to 15 South Central Schools and help Special Ed students find jobs and get them job experience. I love my job but I do look forward to my summers when I can stay home and pursue my own interests such as working with my animals and canning and whatever else I decide to make. This year I am expanding my interests to making lotions, exfoliating lotions, bath bombs, candles and play dough for the kids.  

You have worn many hats over the years in terms of your careers, so can you tell us a little bit of what types of jobs you have had since you began working?

I've had many jobs over the years from fast food to banking to beauty products to Home Improvement to womens clothing, novelty and para.  I often held two and for a while 3 jobs at the same time.

I grew up on a  farm up in North Dakota and never really appreciated how wonderful it truly was until after I moved off when I graduated from high school.  I've lived in town since I was 18.  I've been a "city girl" from then until about 4 years ago. I never thought I would ever live on a farm again, but I always thought it would be nice to lie in the country on a little "Hobby Farm", but still have our regular jobs in town.

Fast forward to when you met your (now) husband a few years ago... you made a pretty big change by moving from the city to the country! Did you know from the start that you were going to start a side business from your new farm?

I met Russell on line about 6 years ago.  He also lived in town and works as a mechanic.  He had lived on a farm as a kid and also wanted a place out in the country.  So when I decided to move 2 hours away from my home to go live with and marry Russell, shortly after, we found a place in the country and decided to buy it.

When I say you do it all, I mean you do. it. all. For those of our readers who may not know you in real life, what all do you make and sell from your farm?

When we moved to the country I had no idea at the time that I would get so involved in gardening canning and especially my animals.  Honestly, Russell is more of the gardener, but like he says, I sure do like to sell it at the Farmer's Market.  I however, really enjoy my animals.  We started out with a few baby chicks that Russell surprised me with and put them in a small building that was already there and built them a pen.  It didn't take long and my few chicks and one house and pen turned into 9!  Before I knew it I had over 150 chickens!  I had ducks, geese and turkeys for a while but decided to just stick with chickens.

Once the word got out that I had chickens the egg orders started coming in!  So the first thing off my farm that I started selling were my eggs. 

I have 6 different breeds of chickens that I incubate their eggs and then sell them at a poultry auction that's held once a month.  From chickens we quickly went to pigs, cows and goats!  Along with several cats, two German Shepard dogs and one boarder collie.  Oh, and I can't forget my peacocks Romeo and Juliet!

How do you sell your products? Do you do anything online or is it all in person?

The first year out at our farm we noticed tons of sand plums growing.  And I decided I wanted to try and make sand plum jelly.  That was a big hit, so then I tried watermelon jelly and that too did very well.  Once the garden started producing I started selling at the Farmer's Market.  My produce, jellies and salsa, which I make from my own home grown vegetables, sold so well that I now sell at two different Farmer's Markets once a week.  This year I decided to try a few other things.

If you had to choose one of your side businesses as your favorite, which would it be?

I love making things and it's very rewarding when I can sell it to people who really enjoy it and also make a little profit from it! I'm always coming up with different things to make.  (Oh, I can't forget my zucchini bread made from my home grown zucchini and pumpkin bread made from my home made pumpkins!)  I also make signs  etc. from pallets

Can I say on here that I am also making home made wine and beer?  The beer I haven't quite mastered yet but the apple wine is the best!!  Of course I can't sell that but my family members sure like it when Christmas comes around!

In closing, I have to give kudos to my wonderful husband who is my biggest supporter! He encourages me in everything I do!  No matter how outrageous it seams he says "Whatever you want. If it makes you happy, why not?"

Here Are The 10 Best Freebies for Mother’s Day

Sunday is Mother’s Day, which means it is time to treat your moms, grandmas, aunts, sisters, friends, and other important women in your life to something extra special! If you do not have the funds this year to treat mom, don’t panic, for countless businesses are pulling out the stops to help you celebrate the special women in your life, via these 10 Mother’s Day freebies:

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TCBY: FREE 6 oz. cup or cone of froyo

Shoney’s: FREE slice of strawberry pie

Kneaders: FREE French toast

Ruth’s Chris Steak House: FREE $25 dining card at participating locations

Long John Silver’s: Buy one platter, get one FREE

Pilot Flying J: FREE cup of hot or iced coffee (any size)

Wienerschnitzel: FREE chili dog, small fry, and drink

LaMar’s Donuts and Coffee: FREE donut and small coffee

Bass Pro Shops: FREE 4x6 family photo (plus, the first 100 families will also receive a free accessories bag and neoprene sunglasses case!)

Hooters: FREE entree from special Mother’s Day menu

Do you know of any other Mother's Day freebies? Let us know in the comments!