This time I talk with Candace Larson who owns Rustic Nation Outfitters. I’ve known Candace for several years now through social media. She’s the real deal in that she doesn’t give up and she has a huge heart and that translates to her business.
Tell us how the company got started, how long you’ve been in business?
Back in 2015 I signed up as a distributor for a rustic shop while sitting at hotel in Savanna Georgia, while waiting for my daughter to get ready for her college freshmen orientation. It was free to join and I thought, “hey, I could make extra money selling clothes and help pay for the hefty tuition bill that was about ready to roll in.”
Within a few months I had a team of six women under me and was collecting cash on their sales as well. As I started to expand with my marketing and networking reach my sales volume was continually rising….when suddenly I hit a massive hurtle of returns, complaints, random price increases, and other issues; all of which I had no control over. I quickly realized that the corporate business was in trouble and I had a decision to make. I either had to jump ship or build my own; one that I could control.
Without thought I closed down Sassy’s Rustic and applied for my wholesale license. Within four months I had numerous vendors, a new website, and the new name of, “Rustic Nation Outfitters.”
What is your mission statement or goal, and philosophy behind the company?
Mission Statement/Goal: Affordable Pricing for everyone!
This is why our plus sizes will NEVER be a different price than non-plus. We would rather lose the difference on our side, even though we paid a tad more at wholesale. Why? Because how can we say we are treating you like family and yet charge you more for having curves?!? We are wanting to break the double standards that the fashion industry has set. While we understand that plus sizes uses more fabric, it still doesn’t sit well with us that stores charge significantly more for plus size, because they are making more than enough for their non-plus sizes to off set the difference. For example….sometimes we pay $2-4 more at wholesale per piece, but we will not pass that on to the buyer because we make it up in other places. Now some would say this is a horrible business decision but it goes against our philosophy. Plus, when God tells you do something, then you do it and you don’t ask questions.
Western wear is expensive and not everyone has the deep pockets to stay up with the costly trends. Our goal is to change that! Now while we can’t mark everything below retail, you can bet your sassy donkey we marked it as low as we could. We are committed to providing the highest quality at the lowest prices we can, while staying in business.
It’s funny how I started this business to make extra money but now God is using it to help people afford clothing that they otherwise couldn’t, so needless to say, making a large profit is no longer my motivation, or reasoning, or goal to stay in business.
Treat all customers like family….why, because it is a proven fact that family gets the VIP treatment. It’s natural for our subconscious to go above and beyond for family members or people we care about over strangers.
This is why we take the time to truly get to know our social media followers. As a matter of fact, when someone follows us, we send them a personal message welcoming them to the family and we ensure we know their real name; and not just their social media one. IG is where we connect the most because the platform allows us to like, comment, and engage with our followers better than other social media sites.
This is why we are able to take the extra steps to ensure that we engage with at least two different followers a day by liking their posts and or commenting, if their profile is in public view. This practice has helped us keep our returns down to Zero for the last six months; because now we recognize when someone, accidentally or unknowingly, orders the wrong size. Had we not of taken the taken the time to connect and learn more about our customers, then we would have never been able to recognize a buyers name and know when the size ordered is wrong. In cases like this, we pause the fulfillment process and reach out to the buyer and start a dialogue to ensure we send the right product the fist time.
In closing, every item we send out is prayed over, wrapped like a gift, and includes a personal handwritten thank you note that welcomes them to the RNO Family; some also include scriptures, encouragement, and or etc. All of our packages are hand addressed because it feels more personal. I know at some point we won’t be able to keep up with this practice, as our daily sales continue to grow, but for now it’s about every little detail to let the RNO Family member know we truly care.
We also pray for our RNO Family members daily and for those who have utilized our anonymous prayer request tab on the website.
What types of clothing do you carry?
We have it all really. We have Traditional Western, Boho Chic, Gypsy, Rodeo Wear, and Farm Style.
What are some of your favorite plus size pieces for riding and why?
Hands down it would be our Bullet Blues Bombshell Jeans. They are made in the USA which means they will last. Most jeans nowadays are extremely thin and wear in the seat rather quickly. One of our Ambassadors, has worn hers for over a year at dang near every barrel race and they have yet to breakdown in the seat or inner thigh which are the two hot spots for can chasers. They are durable and yet giving in the places that a rider would need.
Also, can I please disclose that I absolutely HATE the term plus size??? I don’t understand why the industry is separating women into categories! Women are beautiful and we come in all shapes and sizes. I have battled using this term on our website but have found that it is necessary because otherwise our products wouldn’t be found in any google searches. However, I want it on record that I despise it!
Do your plus size clothes run smaller or larger?
This is a loaded question because every brand of clothing runs differently, which is something we are trying to change. Any item not manufactured in the USA will be a hit or miss, which is why we try our best to only buy USA made products. Which takes us back to the price war lol. Anything made over seas is cheaper wholesale and yet sold at high market prices….which is nuts!
What new items are you looking at carrying?
We are really excited to have Kimes Ranch Apparel soon! We landed an account awhile back but couldn’t find a way to resale their gear at reasonable prices, until now.
We are doing our best to get Grace In La, however, we have to buy a full run which is about 4K out of pocket! The only way we can make this worth the risk is to sale them at market value and even then nothing is guaranteed.
We are talking to a designer in LA right now who is apart of the LA Fashion District. If things go according to plan then we might have an exclusive jean made in LA that is targeted to riders of all sizes and under $60 a pair retail!
We also are treasure hunting for new jewelry designers. Our inventory is low right now for a reason. We don’t want to buy everything that is trendy anymore, we want to be the shop where you can get a piece that is unique and yet fashionably acceptable, if that makes sense. This is why we have the Consignment Barn Of Handmade and one of a kind pieces. I think women want jewelry that no one else has and yet they want to pay responsible prices for said unique pieces. We are doing our best make that happen.
We are also going to start looking for models to represent our clothing brand/style in sizes 14 on up. This is a little ways in the future, but it is something we are starting to prepare for now.
Brand Ambassador & Rodeo fan Cheryl