THE STORY BEHIND THE BRAND
Olivia + Ruby is a testament to creative perseverance and flexibility. From earliest memory I have always wanted to own my own business. Graced with creative talent and an insatiable curiosity for learning new things, I started with fashion illustration as a child and progressed to sewing then hat making then art then graphic design then home furnishings then jewelry then apothecary formulating. All the while designing, making, and selling within my network of family & friends.
Olivia + Ruby was originally born out of my love for vintage style especially the fashion from the 1930s to 1960s. The collection originally included only hats, fascinators, and accessories but I expanded it in 2015 to include small batch apothecary goods after a favorite over-the-counter lotion changed their formula and no longer did the job. I did what every creative entrepreneur did – I made my own! Today O+R includes body creams, body butters, soaps, & balms.
Both the stories of my Grandmother Olivia and the Proverbs 31 women let me know that I’m following the path of numerous creative, enterprising women before me who used their God-given talents and abilities to improve the lives of those around them.
Born June 1917, Olivia Lee Morris was my maternal grandmother who was both creative and entrepreneurial. She was born with one leg shorter than the other one so she tipped when she walked but she did not allow this to hinder her. She was the only one of her nine siblings to graduate from Carver High School in Brownsville, TN.
Upon her marriage, Olivia and Arthur moved to Memphis where they became faithful members of Lane Avenue Church of God in Christ. Arthur was later ordained as an Elder and he was known for being a praying man. He was a man of deep faith who prayed that his children’s children would be blessed. Although he died long before seeing any of his grand-daughters born, his prayers are still impacting us today.
After Arthur’s death on New Years’ Day 1963, Olivia became the sole support for her three daughters. Formerly a homemaker, Olivia worked in the school cafeteria, prepared taxes, and did sewing to support her family. Later that year, she moved her family to LeMoyne Gardens public housing to ensure that the meager insurance settlement would stretch as far as possible. She invested part of the money in helping her oldest daughter Thelma, my mother, graduate from LeMoyne-Owen College enabling her to become a teacher.
In 1974 Olivia, now a grandmother, began selling candy. Known affectionately as the “Candy Lady”, kids from all over the community would come to her house to buy Pickles, Lemon Heads, Freeze Cups, one-cent cookies, and all types of treats.
With tenacity and a deep faith in God, Olivia was able to save $10,000 and was able to purchase her first home at age 63. She is but one example of an entrepreneurial women who inspire me today.
The name Ruby is from the un-named woman spoken of in Proverbs 31 of the bible. She was a wife and a mother, but it’s often overlooked that she was also an entrepreneur who managed several businesses and invested in real estate. This woman is even more notable because she was doing so at a time (700 BC) when most women were restricted to the sphere of the home. This woman invested in real estate (vs 16), she was involved in retail trade (vs 18), and she produced handmade goods and sold them (vs 24).
Tonya | Olivia’s Granddaughter