Today we’d like to introduce you to Deonka Ruffin.
Deonka, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The inception of Bow Inertia started when I decided to use my creative expression to escape the horror that was taking place in my personal life as a result of domestic violence. I started making bow ties back in September 2016 as a way to express myself. By that time, I had been involved with my abuser for 11 years. At a time when I felt like my opinion didn’t matter and my voice was silenced, my bow ties gave me a voice. They allowed me to escape to a place of creativity and imagination, which allowed me to feel free – if only for a little while. However, I am no longer a victim, nor a survivor, I am what you call an Overcomer!
I made several bow ties a night, created a social media page for them and posted them for potential customers to show interest. I decided, once I was able to get the strength and the financials means to leave, I would, and I would then use my platform to help people going through things just like me. As a survivor of 13+ years of abuse at the hands of my ex-husband, I made it my personal mission in life to educate people about the signs of an abuser and resources available to help escape an abusive relationship.
In the Summer of 2017, I filed for divorce from my abuser and by the fall of 2017, I was collaborating with fashion and costume designer Midi Soliz, owner of Black Cross Clothing Line, for the RoosterTeeth Production Original Movie, Lazer Team 2. The main character “Woody” wore Bow Inertia Bow Ties throughout the film. That exposure led to opportunities to showcase my designs in some amazing fashion shows here in Austin such as the Leukemia Awareness Fashion show in December 2017 and the Beards and Bow Ties Fashion show in March 2018.
Along with designing and creating amazing bow ties for all occasions and all people, In mid 2018, I started a domestic violence awareness campaign called #ThisIsWhereIStart to encourage people (young, older, women, and men of all genders) to get out of abusive relationships by providing resources, and even information about my own personal experience to hopefully motivate them to leave dangerous situations before it is too late.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. I share those mistakes as a way to try and prevent the next person from having to experience the same. Instead of telling a story here, I decided to list the top 4 challenges I have faced (and still face) while running my business and some solutions I have incorporated to try and combat those.
My top 4 challenges and solutions are as follows:
- Time: I currently work full time three days a week (12-hour shifts) Mon. Tues, Wed and I focus on Bow Inertia the other four days a week, oftentimes working all night. I dream of the day I will be able to focus solely on Bow inertia but for now, I continue to sacrifice, be obedient and work with the time I have.
- Marketing: As the owner, designer, producer, web site designer and the face of Bow Inertia, I sometimes struggle with ways to market products and get people aware of new products. I love to create, and in all honesty, I wish I could focus solely on doing so, however, I wear many hats. I find it is a lot easier to plan ahead, come up with a strategy and execute. Having set days for specific actions have helped bring structure, for example: Monday you may send an email to your email list about what’s new. Tuesday, you may choose to create a weekly promotion and so forth and so on. Many people have advised me against doing it all on my own, and I not going to even sit here and pretend like it’s been easy, so I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. I also know from personal experience though, that when resources maybe limited but your dreams are limitless, you make sacrifices.
- Business Capital: Running my small business literally takes everything I have- physically, emotionally, and financially. I come up with designs, sketch them out, only to have to wait until I can afford to buy materials. It is not a problem once I have the product made, because once the item is posted, people will reach out to me directly or order directly from my site. I sacrifice because I know staying consistent will pay off in the long run.
- People: Having the right team is essential. People who are just as hungry and full of hustle as you are about making your dreams come true together. Find and surround yourself with people who will challenge you creatively, intellectually and who have something to lose. I’m going to say it louder for the people in the back SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE SOMETHING TO LOSE. What I mean by that is, surround yourself with people who have dreams of their own that align with the overall outcome you are hoping for.
If you don’t yet have a team or a partner, I would encourage a person to research and reach out to successful people in the industry they’re interested in getting involved in. (Their emails are usually located on their websites.) Ask to have a 30-minute phone call or a cup of coffee if you’re really bold to discuss how they got where they are today. If you send out 10 emails, you may get one or two responses. Those phone calls and cups of coffee are opportunities and you never know where they can take you, use them well.
Bow Inertia – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My designs are all handmade personally by me from the highest quality, environmentally friendly materials. My designs are unique and original and I am constantly looking for ways to challenge my innovation with new and exciting designs that go way beyond traditional bow tie neckwear.
As a way to completely separate Bow Inertia from any other bow tie company, and a away to try and gain instant recognition from the public, in March 2018 I created Bow Inertia’s SportsLuX Collection. The SportsLux Collection consists of designs I call DuffelBows, Bow Clutches, Bow Tie Fanny Packs and so much more. Since the introduction of Bow Inertia’s SportsLux Collection, brand awareness was increased significantly.
I believe what sets me apart is my innovation. I have never believed in limits and I push boundaries as far as I can conceptually, and then still, I push a little further. I have never believed in conforming to anyone’s standards so my designs are based on what I think looks cool at the time. I don’t design for one particular demographic of people, I design for everyone.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as a mind state. I am successful. I have overcome so much hurt, trauma and obstacles along the way, and I survived. My spirit was never crushed and I always knew that one day I would be in a position to help others. I made it out, and that is why I am successful.
Regarding my business, I have helped so many people in their struggle. Whether just by being a soundboard, providing resources or telling my own story. Once I was in a position to be able to actually make a difference in someone’s life, I believe I gained success.
Success to me is not about financial means. Success to me is the ability to use my voice, my platform and my story to help others and that gives me such a sense of fulfillment.
- Duffel Bows- from $69.99 to $79.99
- Fanny Bows and clutches $25.00 to $45.00
- Bow Ties: From $25.00 to $45.00
- Address: 1904 West Loop Unit C
Austin, TX 78758
- Website: www.bowinertia.com
- Phone: 5129196248
- Email: DIDI@BOWINERTIA.COM
- Instagram: @BowInertia
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/bowinertia
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheBowInertia
- Other: www.instagram.com/bowinertia
Photographers: Robert Trask, Vannessa Witt, Eric Coleman