Oklahoma City woman’s creations make organizing your stuff easy and fun
By Linda Miller Fashion Editor
PHOTO BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN
What started as a request from a friend to help her get organized has turned into a thriving business for Ruth Holcomb and a stylish way for other women to keep their stuff together.
The Carrier was Holcomb’s answer for her soccer mom friend who wanted something similar to her child’s toy organizer to keep order in the car, a tote of sorts to hold everything from magazines and snacks to a bottle of water and cell phone. And toys, of course.
Other women took notice, and soon Holcomb was whipping up more and more of the totes in her Oklahoma City home. She made 100 and took them to a show in New Orleans, then to Affair of the Heart in Oklahoma City.
With business increasing, Holcomb knew she either had to put a cap on it and continue making each piece herself or find a manufacturer that could handle large volume. Two years ago, manufacturing moved to Mexico, then last year to China.
The move to China allowed Holcomb to introduce other pieces under the RuthMichael Inc. name, including a wristlet, tote bag, Bible and organizer covers, diaper bag and caddy, handbags and laptop sleeve. She offers 13 different pieces in seven different patterns, with more to come.
The best-seller continues to be The Carrier, along with the hipster bag.
“When I first started showing it to people … my thought was, I can’t believe it hasn’t been thought of before,” she said.
The Carrier was designed to keep women organized in their car, she said. The tote could be taken in at the end of the day, emptied and reloaded.
Its handiness, though, made it perfect for crafters, teachers and any woman who filled her handbag or car with the stuff she needed or wanted to get through the day. It immediately eliminated clutter, holding everything for life on the go.
“Women who have bought it, love it,” she said.
The Carrier, selling for $80, has been likened to having a personal assistant with handles.
It makes sense that Holcomb’s friend would seek her help for an organizational product. Though RuthMichael Inc. was formed in March 2007, Holcomb has created custom window treatments for interior designers for years, so she knows her way around a sewing machine. She also designed and sewed patch purses before The Carrier came along.
For an organizational product, she knew flimsy wouldn’t work. She made The Carrier sturdy — stiff sides, wooden bottom, metal feet and plenty of pockets — but also stylish. She relies on sophisticated patterns and rich colors, usually mixing at least two. The best-selling pattern is what she calls Blue Maison, a tempting combination of brown scrolls on a luscious French blue fabric.
Her collection is available at several showrooms across the country, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio. By June, she hopes to have it in showrooms in every region so every retailer in the U.S. will have access, she said.
This spring, she introduced a hanging cosmetic case and a three-pack of cosmetic cases. For fall, she’ll introduce a bedding collection.
The business involves her husband and their three children. Each month, she ships about 20 to 30 wholesale orders. She also has a Web site, www. ruthmichael.com, and items can be ordered on amazon.com.
“I feel like God has given this to me,” she said. “He provided this opportunity for us.”
The Carrier, a tote to help keep women organized, was designed by Ruth Holcomb of Oklahoma City. It is large enough to carry a book and magazine, water bottle, snacks, toys, tissues, iPod, cell phone and more. The Carrier is available in several prints and colors.
Date:Feb 24, 2008;