Brand Champion of the Month - Brittany Gendron

Posted on April 17, 2018 by Emily Nunez | 0 Comments

This month we recognize Brittany Gendron's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Champion! 

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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Military, social mission

Brand Champion of the Month - Laura Suarez

Posted on March 28, 2018 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

Brand Champion of the Month

This month we recognize Laura Suarez's dedication and outstanding work as an S&P Brand Champion!

Luara Suarez

**This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.** 

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from, what is your background?

I was born in beautiful Southern California. I am currently pursuing a bachelors in International Business. My fiancé and I recently purchased our first home in La Mirada, CA  and are loving our lovely neighborhood! I have a passion for travel and love encouraging others to travel the world. My fiancé and I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit Europe in the past few years, as well as visit Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. We also traveled to Paris and London last year, and my fiancé proposed to me in my favorite city in the whole world. I was the first in my family to travel abroad and London was the first city I ever visited, now it holds an even more special place in my heart.

Luara Suarez

What is one thing on your bucket list you can’t wait to cross off and why?

It has been a dream of mine to visit Egypt! I was always fascinated with the culture and history while growing up. I always wanted to learn as much as I could.

What would be your theme song?

I Lived - by One Republic. The song holds such beautiful memories of all of my travels and the wonderful friends I've made throughout the years. It also reminds me to try and live my best life everyday, as well as encourage others to do the same.

Who would you love to interview and why?

If she were alive, I'd interview Selena Quintanilla. She was such a huge influence in the music industry during her time with us and even after. I think it would be interesting to ask what type of music she'd be writing now, and about what and with whom she’d be interested in collaborating with.

Do you work another job other than being a Brand Champion? Tell us about that position.  

At the moment I'm attending school and working as a Brand Champion.

How do you navigate being a Brand Champion with the other responsibilities you have in your daily life?

With moving, wedding planning and school, I try to incorporate talking about Sword & Plough via various social media platforms and conversations whenever possible. I love using my Blue Signature Tote on a daily basis and love starting conversations about the tote. While traveling I enjoy taking my Green Weekender bag and love taking pictures of them anywhere I go!

What inspired you to become a Brand Champion?

Ever since the first day I heard about it from COO Betsy Núñez, whom I'd met at a previous travel company we worked at together, I fell in love with the idea. Each of these products has a beautiful story and wonderful meaning. It’s a great feeling to know you are making a difference in the world by supporting a company that supports veteran employment, reduces waste, and not to mention, gives back 10% of profits to military initiatives.

Who are the veterans in your life? Why do they inspire you?

My cousin Alex Gutierrez recently became a Marine last year and our family is incredibly proud. He is such an inspiration for becoming the first ever member of our family to join the military.

What were your impressions of the military community before becoming a Brand Champion? How has that changed or evolved for you?

I wasn't really involved in the military community before I was a Brand Champion. Sword & Plough has strengthened my civil-military understanding, and I now know what the power of a purchase can do, and the importance of supporting small local businesses. I've also become more interested in talking to veterans about their stories while on duty, their life after serving in the military, and the challenges they face.

What motivates you?  

I'm constantly motivated by my wonderful fiancé, friends, and family, who are always so uplifting and inspire me to be a better version of myself. My fiancé is definitely my biggest motivator and inspiration. He not only wishes to be better himself but loves those around him to be better versions of themselves as well. There is nothing more selfless and beautiful in life than succeeding and wanting those around you to succeed as well. It's important to surround ourselves with positive people who reciprocate love and support. I'm blessed to be surrounded by kind and loving souls.

What have you learned from being a Brand Champion?

I've learned so much since becoming one of the first Brand Champions for the company. The most important lesson is the power of your purchase. We all buy things on a daily basis without sometimes even knowing the impact we have on the world with what we buy. I love being a part of a company that supports our veterans and is making a difference to reduce waste. Every time I buy a product from S&P, I know it's going towards making a difference in more than one way. The bags are also so stylish and durable; each bag is beautiful and unique in its own way.

What is your favorite Brand Champion giving partner and why?

My favorite giving partner is Purple Hearts Reunited, which has also been our newest with the launch of our Burgundy Wool Crossbody bag on Valentine's Day. Purple Hearts Reunited is a non-profit organization that returns lost or stolen military medals to veterans and military families at no cost. Through their work, Purple Hearts Reunited returns what is often the last tangible piece of a veteran to his or her family. With your purchase, you help fund the Purple Hearts Reunited service medal return ceremonies, which are an opportunity to share veterans' stories and honor their legacies.

What is your favorite Sword & Plough product?

This is a tough one...I have a couple of favorites. My favorite travel bag is The Weekender, I use it on every single trip whether domestic or international.

While exploring new cities, I use my Brown Wool Crossbody bag because it's light and stylish.

At home I use my Blue Signature Tote on a daily basis. It has so many pockets and holds so much. I'm usually that friend that carries band aids, tissues, cough drops or anything others might need in an emergency!

Luara Suarez


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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Military, social mission

Brand Champion of the Month - Tara Durkot

Posted on March 10, 2018 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

Brand Champion of the Month

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

Tara Durkot

**This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.** 

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from, what is your background?

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania but reside in New Jersey now with my family.  I attended college at University of South Carolina and did 4 years of ROTC before commissioning and serving in the Army.  I loved my time on Active Duty as a nurse but ultimately decided to resign my commission in order to be home with my son. I have been interested in Sword and Plough since my time in ROTC and loved having some of the products throughout my time in the Army and especially now that I am a veteran!  I am married to my husband, Brandon and have a son, Atlas, who is 9 months and another baby on the way and due this summer!

What is one thing on your bucket list you can’t wait to cross off and why?

Travel to New Zealand with my husband! We haven’t been able to travel as much as we would like and are now busy with our little family, but I can’t wait to take off one day with him and travel such a beautiful location as New Zealand.

What would be your theme song?

The Friends theme song, “I’ll Be There For You”.  As a daughter, sister, friend, wife and mom, I strive to always be there for those I love.  

Who would you love to interview and why?

I would love to interview Joanna and Chip Gaines because I love home renovations, woodworking and anything DIY.  I am also always impressed by large families and they are raising one! In my next life I want to be someone who flips houses and does renovations with a team of people.  I love the idea of rehabbing something or building something out of wood. For now, I love turning our new house into a home and am constantly working on new projects, furniture, Ikea hacks, and DIY ideas and love taking time to put towards that hobby of mine.

Do you work another job other than being a Brand Champion? Tell us about that position.

Yes! I am a full-time mom and stay home with my son.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done but also the most rewarding and fun.  It brings the term “full-time” job to life and keeps me busier than I ever could have imagined.  I love it and love being home with him and hope to continue to be able to do so. We are preparing for our second child due this summer, so I have some job security there.  I can’t imagine being busier but know I will be and am up for the challenge. There’s a lot of love, fun and laughter that comes from this job, so I feel very lucky!

Tara Durkot

How do you navigate being a Brand Champion with the other responsibilities you have in your daily life?

I try and give it dedicated time so that I don’t have to multitask while focusing on my S&P responsibilities.  My family supports the idea of me setting aside time to do emails, correspondence and tabling events as I desire.

What inspired you to become a Brand Champion?

I love being a veteran and supporting the military as well as other veterans.  I always thought this company stood out as a company with purpose and spot on mission.  When the opportunity arose to learn more and get involved, I jumped at the chance.

Tara Durkot

Who are the veterans in your life? Why do they inspire you?

The veterans in my life that inspire me are the ones I worked side by side with and patients I cared for when I served.  I learned so much from fellow ROTC classmates, instructors and eventually my nursing coworkers and patients. I never met such a hard working group of Army and Navy veterans as those I worked with on the wounded warrior floor at Walter Reed.  My patients were stronger and expected to manage and navigate more than anyone should have to, yet they did and pulled through despite catastrophic injuries and career setbacks. I will never forget them.

What were your impressions of the military community before becoming a Brand Champion? How has that changed or evolved for you?

Since becoming a Brand Champion it has only broadened my experience and opened my eyes to more of the need to support jobs for our veterans.  I think it is so important for companies to hire veterans and be recognized when veteran owned and run.

What motivates you?

My family motivates me. I love them and want to be the best wife and mom I can be for them.

What have you learned from being a Brand Champion?

I have learned so much about Sword and Plough and am so interested in how the company has grown to be so big and successful.  It is really amazing to see the team of veterans and military supporters do such an amazing job with Sword and Plough. I have learned that people not only want to support the veteran community, but they also love the products so much or love the products and then the fact that they are also supporting the veteran community.  It is a win-win, and people are always intrigued when you take the time to share details about the products and company.

Tara Durkot

What is your favorite Brand Champion giving partner and why?

Team Rubicon is my favorite giving partner because it is a veteran non-profit organization that I love and have been amazed by.  The concept and mission behind Team Rubicon is so impressive. They stay very busy with the number of natural disasters happening across the country and world. They deploy to those locations to provide relief efforts and to help others.  Their teams deploy with the type of effort that veterans especially embody -- the desire to take care of others.

What is your favorite Sword & Plough product?

The Sword & Plough Signature Tote is my favorite, and I carry with me everyday as I use it as my diaper bag!  It comes with me everywhere and is the perfect bag for everyday use as well as travel and so much more. I love it!

Tara Durkot 


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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Veteran Owned

Brand Champion of the Month - Jennifer Flickinger

Posted on February 03, 2018 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

Brand Champion of the Month

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

Jennifer Flickinger

**This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.** 

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

I grew up in Washington in a town famous for its daffodil bulb fields. It really is beautiful there with the mountains and trees. I also lived in California for several years and really miss being able to drive to the beach.

But, I’ve spent the last 15 years making my home in Minnesota with my husband and our kids. I beg them every winter to move somewhere warmer but this is their home.

What three words would describe you and why?

A tad unorganized although I pretend I am not. I put things “away” all the time only I can never remember where “away” is. It drives my family crazy. I don’t like clutter, even if it is important clutter, so I tend hide the clutter and then it’s a lost cause trying to find it.

I don’t know a way to describe this - maybe good natured? I can take a joke, but also like to dish out some sarcasm. Life is better with a funny narrative. I don’t mind laughing at myself, as long as I can laugh with someone.

Learner. I will never stop. I waited until I had 2 kids in diapers, an elementary aged child, and a full time job, to finish my BS and Masters degrees. I love learning about new things, different cultures, religions, and people. I get on a topic and read up on it and then move on to the next.

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 work full time for a medical company, I volunteer several hours a month, and I have 3 kids who keep me incredibly busy. S&P doesn’t feel like a “responsibility” because it is easy to share a good story.

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

I loved the look of the bags and the message behind them hit home to me. My husband was (and always will be) a Marine and he has spent the past 6 years serving in the Army National Guard. Instead of being annoyed by some questions he and I have been asked, I realized it was more about lack of awareness. If the military is confusing to me, I can only imagine how confusing it is to people who have no ties to military life. The products speak for themselves, but they also open up a dialogue about what it means to serve, in whatever capacity that may be. The products are high quality and functional while still cool to look at. I love knowing that each product helps employ veterans, that they are made in the USA, and that we give back to organizations who help veterans even further.

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

Hearing stories from older generation veterans, or children/grandchildren of older generation veterans, are always my favorite. Growing up with my own grandpa’s story of being a POW and surviving has always been a tremendous source of pride for our family. I love getting to see that pride in others when they tell their family hero’s story.

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 am truly an introvert, so approaching people and initiating the conversation is not my favorite thing to do. If someone comments on something I am wearing or carrying, I am happy to share. If someone brings up the military or veterans or jobs, I am happy to talk about S & P. I mostly use social media platforms to share our products and mission. I find it to be easy and fast, and the introvert in me can be completely outgoing in an online post. I would be more uncomfortable interacting face to face.

Who is the most interesting veteran you know and why?

My husband will want me to say him! But there are so many veterans in our family and we are so proud of each of them, I can’t pick just one.

Sword & Plough recently announced their Giving Partners. What Giving Partner is your favorite and why?

All of the Giving Partners are doing such tremendous work, but as a dog lover and an owner of a rescue dog, I really love Pets for Vets. Pets for Vets gives second chances to shelter dogs, matching them with veterans, saving both the veteran and the dog. The increasing research that supports the use of dogs as therapy animals is awesome and I love supporting their cause.

What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?

My personal favorite is the blue mini tote. It’s the perfect size for me to carry my laptop, my smaller handbag, several files, sunglasses and a ton of other “stuff” I tend to carry around daily. I love the material and hardware. I am so hard on my bags, and this one has stood up to all the abuse I put it through. I also love that the blue fabric is used to make American flags.

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

I met my husband shortly after his honorable discharge from the Marines. We met at work. Don’t tell him this, but I honestly hadn’t paid much attention to him until 9/11 happened. We were at a work meeting, watching the news unfold on the big screen in the conference room. He suddenly left. Later, I found out it was to go make sure his info was all up to date, in case he needed to be pulled back up. I didn’t realize at the time that he was in his 4 years inactive period after discharge, where he could be pulled back up.

He did not end up serving again during that time, but he later enlisted in the National Guard, where he has served the last 6 years.

I am incredibly proud of his service, and the service of all the veterans in our family.

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?

Go for it. If you love the product and the mission, it’s easy to share the story. Although we are spread out all over country, the home office does a great job making sure we all feel like we are integral to the momentum of the company. Everyone is willing to help and share.


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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Military, Veteran, Veteran Owned Business

Brand Champion of the Month - Megan Zelinski

Posted on December 29, 2017 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

Brand Champion of the Month

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

Megan Zelinski

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

I grew up on a farm near Ann Arbor, Michigan. I attended Northern Michigan University for their zoology program, and it was there I met my husband, Simon. The Upper Peninsula is also where we adopted our 5-year-old Pitador, Bentley. He brings so much happiness into my life. After graduating from NMU in 2013, we got stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. There, I worked at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in the Rocky Shores/Tundra area. Currently, we are stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and will be transitioning to Fort Bragg, North Carolina within the month!

What three words would describe you and why?

Hard-working: My Father instilled a hard work ethic in me at an early age. I define my goals, and find the challenges rewarding. One of my favorite aspects of being a Brand Champion is the initiative afforded to me to be successful.

Passionate: Animal science has always been my thing. Working at Point Defiance Zoo has been a life changing experience for me. I am so thankful for the knowledge I gained in marine mammal conservation and husbandry. I would do anything for those animals and I will forever be teaching others what we can do to help out our planet.

Thoughtful: I have always been empathetic towards others and I enjoy listening to what they have to say. I believe everyone has the right to their own opinions.

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

Currently, I work at an animal hospital as a Veterinarian Assistant. I have also spent time over the past few months volunteering at the Endangered Wolf Center near St. Louis, Missouri. Managing both requires a lot of planning and time management but I enjoy the variety!

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

I first heard about Sword and Plough on the NBC news. Immediately, I knew I had to be a part of such an amazing organization that not only empowers veteran employment but repurposes material! I absolutely adore the environmental impact of reducing waste and our carbon footprint on the world.

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

It is most rewarding to see how people respond to our mission and how it relates to their life. I’ve had many people share their military experiences as well as those who explain what they do in their lives to repurpose or conserve. It’s all about seeing faces light up and knowing that people will tell others about Sword and Plough’s mission. Communicating ways we can make a positive change is imperative.

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?

Whenever I am out and about, I always have my wool crossbody; people love hearing what it’s made of. In addition, I make sure to carry my business cards with me, so that it’s easy for others to go online later and see all of our products.

Who is the most interesting veteran you know and why?

My grandfather is the most interesting veteran I know. He was born in 1918 and grew up with 10 siblings. I admire him because he has always had strong principles. He taught me that in life it’s important to work hard and always be honest. His laugh is contagious, and he tells the best stories. Most importantly, I love the kind of partner he has been to my grandmother 75+ years.

Sword & Plough recently announced their Giving Partners. What Giving Partner is your favorite and why?

My favorite giving partner is Paws for Vets (bet you didn’t see that one coming). Canines add a quantifiable degree of quality and purpose to the lives of the humans they share their lives with. You can never truly have a bad day when you come home to a dog. Training shelter dogs to assist veterans as they make their way through the world, is an honorable mission.

What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?

Currently, the signature zip top tote bag is my absolute favorite product! You could fit your whole house in it if you wanted to. It’s durable and versatile; ideal for any adventure!

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

Harold, my grandfather served in the Army during WWII as a technician 5th class in the Pacific Coastal Frontier Defense under the Western Defense Command.

Simon, my husband is a prior service medic, currently an Army captain with 9 years in service.

Rudy, my brother-in-law spent 4 years active duty in Fort Lewis and is now a Sergeant in the Michigan Army National Guard while completing his business degree at Northern Michigan University.

George, my brother-in-law is a specialist with 3 years currently stationed in Germany.

Frances, my sister-in-law is a Private First Class serving in the Michigan Army National Guard while getting her degree in nursing at Northern Michigan University.

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?

Honestly, this has been a whole new experience for me which has made it exciting. I feel blessed to be able to represent a company that has such inspiring team members and a positive mission. I would advise those who might be thinking of joining our family to reach out for inspiration. The whole team is always willing to help!

Megan Zelinski


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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Military, Veteran, Veteran Owned Business

Brand Champion of the Month - Teresa Straley

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

Brand Champion of the Month

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

Teresa Straley 

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

I was born and raised in Chambersburg, PA. I still live in the area and raised all three of my children here.

What three words would describe you and why?

Talented - My friends always tell me I have a very crafty side as well as a great fashion sense. I guess I just know what I like. It’s my way of expressing myself.

Hard working - I was a single mom for most of my children’s lives. I’ve always worked full time, and have had a side job for a good many years. As I watch my children grow into adulthood, I think that is one of the best qualities I have passed on to them.

Dedicated - I give everything I do my all. And if I set my mind to do something, I’m gonna do it.

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

I work full time as a Marketer for a Senior Living Community. It’s a job that I absolutely love!  We have about 160 seniors that live here, from Independent to advanced Dementia. They make my job 100% fulfilling.

I guess I’ve always been good at time management because I’ve had to be. With my children grown, it gives me a little more flexibility to dedicate to Sword & Plough. And I think if you are passionate about something, you can make it work.

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

My oldest graduated from high school last year. I’ve been trying to find a good match for me to give back. I’ve been most interested in something related to the military, as I come from a military family, and especially after my oldest joined the Air Force. When I saw Emily and Betsy on The Today Show in the spring, I think I knew I found my match. I did some research and loved what I saw.

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

I did an event at an Armory a few weeks ago in Carlisle, PA. I guess seeing all the active duty service men and women, and meeting some of their spouses, seeing their interest in what we stand for and what we do, that hit home. My father, brothers, grandfather, son….all of them share an unbreakable bond. That’s what is rewarding for me.

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 carry the product with me at all times.  I actually attached a wristlet strap to my crossbody and carry it as my wallet.

I am in a lot of Vendor groups on Facebook so that has enabled me to find a lot of local events.

Who is the most interesting veteran you know and why?

Well of course I have to say my son Coltin. His choice to join the Air Force wasn’t something that he had planned through life, so when it happened, I think his father and I were a little shocked. But as in everything he does, he put complete effort into it. He served 6 months in Honor Guard, probably one of the things I am most proud of. He did a year tour at Kunsan AFB in Korea. He’s only been out for about 3 months and has already passed his Florida real estate test and gotten a job as a Realtor. This is such a testament to the transition from military to civilian workforce. He is also now classified as disabled, but he doesn’t let that slow him down. He takes life by the horns and continues to push forward and succeed.

What veteran cause do you care about the most and why?

Disabled Veterans. My son’s disabilities are minimal. We were very fortunate that he never saw combat. When I sit and watch real life war movies on TV, the thought of what those soldiers and their families have had to endure...my heart just aches for them. We as Americans need to offer more support, and be thankful every day for others’ sacrifices for our freedom.

What Sword & Plough product is your favorite and why?

My favorite today, which will be my next purchase, is the Camo Zip Top Tote. My coworker just bought the one out of my kit and I admit, I’m jealous.

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

As I mentioned, I come from a military family. Aside from my son, my dad is a Vet and my brothers were both in the military. My grandfather was a POW on a war train, contracted TB and passed away when my mother was a toddler. I can’t imagine how hard life was in the 40’s for my grandmother to be a single mother with two babies to raise.  

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 think all of my life experiences make S&P a great fit. Not only my connection to most branches of the service through family and friends, but my 25 years of Direct Sales gives me the edge on marketing our brand.  

The best advice I can give is let your own experiences show through your passion. I’ve always said, I’m not a sales person. What I sell is what I believe in. Sword & Plough has the potential to continue to do amazing things while supporting our Armed Forces and service members.


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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Brand Champion Program, Military, social mission, Veteran

Brand Champion of the Month - Robbin Alex

Posted on October 27, 2017 by Sword & Plough | 0 Comments

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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Posted in Brand Champion, Brand Champion of the Month, Military, Veteran

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