Brand Champion of the Month - Robbin Alex

Brand Champion of the Month

This month we recognize Robbin Alex's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Champion.

Robbin Alex 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I grew up a military brat….following my dad wherever the Navy took us. It was a great way to see the United States. I live in Papillion, NE.

Do you work another job in addition to Sword & Plough? If so, what job is that? What is it like to manage both responsibilities?

I retired from the military in 2017 after 30 years in the Army and Navy. I worked for the DoD as Chief of Quality Services at Ehrling Bergquist Clinic, retiring in September 2015. I don’t work another job, however, I volunteer my time to help fellow veterans and ensure no veteran is left behind. I have been volunteering as Omaha Chapter Captain for Team Red, White & Blue since May 2014 and started volunteering as a mentor for the Veteran Treatment Court (VTC) in January 2017.

I mentor two individuals once a week and go to court twice a month to represent them in front of the judge. Our mission is to reduce recidivism of those who served in the armed forces, are suffering from Mental Illness (PTSD and/or TBI), and are involved in the criminal court system. The ability to speak with fellow veterans who have “been there” offers the court participant an informal way to ask questions, solicit feedback & discuss how they are feeling about their situation. Mentors are court trained volunteers who have served in the military and are assigned by the VTC to work with veterans as they progress through the court system. The goal of the mentoring program is to offer a hand to a buddy who may have stumbled.

What made you decide to be a Sword & Plough Brand Champion? What is it about the products/brand you love?  

I read about S&P in a magazine article. Once I saw the product I went online and bought the Blue Mini Zip Top Tote. I was in love! I purchased the following products prior to becoming a Brand Champion: Camo Signature Zip Top Tote, Blue/Green Field Pack, Green Signature Rucksack, Grey Wool Cross Body-Brown leather.  

The company is veteran owned, I loved the mission, and when I saw they were looking for Brand Champions, I could not complete the form quick enough! I was missing something from my life since I left the military. I knew it would give me MCP (Mission, Challenge and Purpose). I love that the brand's items are repurposed for a purpose out of military surplus, that Sword & Plough is a veteran owned company, that they hire veterans, and that everything is AMERICAN made!! I fell in love with S&P from the moment I was introduced to it.

What has been the most rewarding experience of being a Sword & Plough Brand Champion?    

Showing the products to the community, discussing that they are repurposed for a purpose out military surplus, and talking about the mission. Talking about Betsy and Emily’s hard work to develop this company to build a bridge between the military and civilian community. I’m proud to tell everyone that these two brilliant entrepreneurs built it from the ground up.   

One of the hopes for the Community Brand Champions program is that each member will leverage their own entrepreneurial spirit. What creative ways have you employed to reach customers?  

I love carrying my Camo Signature Zip Top tote bag with me everywhere. It is a great conversation starter. For the holidays I have added items to make a mini kit to show other items we carry such as Sword & Plough story cards, the Grey Wool Crossbody bag, the Black Leather Zip Clutch, the Screen Printed Clutch, Got Your 6 pins, the Mini Key Fob, and my Sword & Plough business cards.

Can you please share what has been your favorite experience/memory working with a Sword & Plough customer?

I reconnected with an old friend on Facebook. We decided to meet for coffee and catch up. It has been 20+ years since we had last seen each other. We talked about our days in the military and as we were talking she noticed my Camo Signature Zip Top Tote bag and asked me about it. After showing her all the great reasons why I loved it and what it could be used for she was hooked. Shortly after we met she ordered her bag and loves it!

What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?

My Camo Signature Zip Top tote bag. It is so versatile! I carry it every day while doing my errands and shopping. It is great for travel with all the pockets, plus my laptop fits in it. In the summer it’s great for going to the pool with all items needed in one bag.

Are you a military spouse and/or a veteran? What is the most challenging aspect of being a military spouse and/or veteran? What is the most rewarding?

I am a military veteran who served in the Army and Navy for 30 years before retiring in 2007. The most challenging aspect of retiring was taking off the uniform. It was my identity for so long I didn’t really know who I was without the uniform. I had to invent myself as a civilian who is a veteran.

My spouse and I both served and other retired military servicemembers automatically recognize him as a veteran. When he tells them I served 30 years too (or I tell people) their reactions are “You’re a veteran?” I am still surprised. I know our country realizes there are women in our military, however, there is a stereotypical perception of what a female veteran looks like. Female veterans are from all walks of life, but we look just like everyone else.

What is something about being a military spouse and/or veteran you did not expect? 

When my dad was in the Navy the families were called dependents. I never understood that because my mom worked full time and took care of the house plus 4 kids and our grandmother when dad was deployed. I thought after he retired in 1974 and I joined the military it would have changed. However to this day family members are still referred to as dependents. Although through the years they have tried to change it to family members, old habits die hard. I have always believed they should be referred to as family members because you cannot be dependent on someone who is deployed. It takes a special kind of independence to do it all while they are gone! I always fought to remind staff why it is important to call them family members.

Tell us about the service members in your life and your connection to them.   

My husband Bill and I met when I was stationed at Ft Rucker, AL. I was an Army Nurse and he was in the Navy going through Naval Flight School in Pensacola, FL. I transferred to the Navy for love so my husband and I could be stationed together. We have been married for 23 ½ yrs. We figured out half of our marriage was spent separated because duty called. We knew when we married that it would not always be easy, however, we believed our love and support for each other would help us through everything. At times it was hard. Just like everyone else, you want to come first, however, we knew when we signed up it was going to be duty, honor and country with our love for each other.

I have a long history with military in my life. My dad was career Navy, my father-in-law was in the Navy, and both of my grandparents served in the military. Between everyone in my family, we have about 100 years military service.

What, if any, experience did you have that made you feel like the Brand Champion program was a good fit for you? What advice would you give to someone who is just starting as a Brand Champion or thinking about applying?

I am grateful for this opportunity to become a Veteran Brand Champion. Sword & Plough is a great brand and knowing that I am helping other veterans and the support from the whole team has made it a great fit. I have MCP (Mission Challenge and Purpose).

Go for the opportunities of a lifetime! Become a Brand Champion! You will never regret it. If you’re a new Brand Champion, reach out to other Brand Champions and ask questions or for guidance. We are all willing to share our experiences. Feel free to contact me anytime and I will share everything I can.

Robbin Alex - Team RWB 

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