Sponsored by Ruger
First of all, for readers who may not know, how and why did you decide to start GWG?
My best friend, Norissa Harman, who is also the co-founder of GWG, had a vision. Her husband used to bring home t-shirts that would have things like flaming bucks on them, and had a really small junior fit. She felt she could build a better product. I was the business mind so I said, “I’ll invest for a year and help.” I wrote a check for $2500. That was in November of 2008.
We were in Norissa’s garage, like many businesses start out. She had an embroidery machine and would embroider our GWG logo onto hats and shirts and I would do the rhine-studding. It was super popular back then! We started working with a local screen printing company, but it was very expensive. We tried to outsource here in the US, but got turned down in Los Angeles because the word ‘guns’ is in our name.
In January of 2009, we went to our first trade show. It was a gun show in Reno and Norissa thought we’d be lucky if we made $100 there because it was so slow and very male dominated, but we ended up having the best weekend ever. At that event we were told we should check out the Scheels store (which we had never heard of) and that was our big start. We dropped off a plastic bag with a handwritten note and some of our samples inside. We had to teach ourselves about import/export, because we couldn’t get anyone here to support us with our name being “Girls with Guns.”
How did you connect with Ruger? What was the defining factor that made you make the decision to do so?
As we began to do more and more in the gun industry and going to shows, we started connecting with a variety of people. About seven or eight years ago we were invited to Gunsite [Academy] where Ruger was hosting an event for women and we connected with Ruger’s social media manager.
About a year later, Emanuel Kapp, fondly known as Kappie, reached out to us and he wanted to film us traveling and hunting. We approached Ruger to ask if they would sponsor the show, which aired on the Sportsman’s Channel. We started our relationship with Ruger through that experience and it’s been amazing!
What has been the most exciting and/or surprising thing about the partnership?
How down-to-earth everyone is. They want our feedback. They genuinely care about their customers and it shows. They’re just normal people like us, but they’re the number one firearms company in the industry! It has been such an incredible opportunity for Norissa and myself. It’s amazing just how humble and giving the people at Ruger are. They support us in all our causes. They even put GWG apparel on their website. It’s like this network of family. That is the most surprising thing from such a big company. We have had dinner multiple times with the entire crew. It’s a tight-knit family. When my daughter was born, they even bought her a Ruger blanket and onesies of different sizes to fit her.
What are you looking for in the future from the partnership?
All the new guns! I am a gun girl through-and-through and they excite me. They come out with so much cool new stuff. This past year it was the Max 9; it’s one of the best concealed carry guns on the market. They always have new guns coming into the marketplace and they’re always innovating. Guns are what I get excited about, always.