2015 40 Under 40 Honoree: Arianna Russell
Bodacious Cases LLC
Monday, March 23, 2015 10:32 AM
Arianna Russell founded two companies, has been featured on the national news, landed as a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made contest and met FUBU founder Daymond John of “Shark Tank” fame.
Education: Ozark High School
Family: My father is a double Purple Heart Vietnam War veteran, my mom is an entrepreneur and I am the youngest of four.
What’s the biggest gamble you’ve taken in life? Did it pay off? To quit my well-established Superior Auto Detailing business to venture out and invent a product that people told me I couldn’t do. They told me what I wanted to do was crazy, if it was doable then all the “bigger” companies would have already done it, and if I wanted to keep my products 100 percent American made that I wouldn’t succeed. Thus far it has paid off; it’s still a work in progress.
And she’s 27 years old.
As a high school junior, Russell launched Super Mobile Auto Detailing out of the trunk of her car, thriving in a male-dominated environment and growing into a business with eight employees.
Next up: Bodacious Cases LLC.
On July 4, 2011, Russell thought her phone had fallen into a hot tub. It was a false alarm, but she started thinking about how helpful a water-resistant cover would be. She doesn’t carry a purse, so how about a place for some plastic and cash, too? Russell wanted a sleek, American-made case she could color customize.
Russell went seeking but did not find. So she designed one.
Fortunately, Russell was motivated by being told she was too young, her company was too tiny and her made-in-America mandate was impossible. It wasn’t easy to find American manufacturers; the price difference between the U.S. and China is substantial. But the daughter of a double Purple Heart Vietnam War veteran believes it honors him and everyone else who has fought for the U.S. by insisting on American made.
“This has been no small feat, as meeting with foreign manufacturers requires significant time commitment,” she says. “Turning down their cheaper prices at a time when manufacturing in the U.S. is exponentially more expensive has been a hard decision to make, but it is necessary to keep the Bodacious Cases’ mission of being 100 percent made in America and supporting the growth of our economy and domestic jobs.”
Russell considers being interviewed by ABC World News Tonight a highlight.
“It gave us the opportunity to share the importance of supporting our economy,” she says. “A large amount of people heard our message and now understand Bodacious Cases, (its) business mission, vision and values. I hope our commitment to made in America will inspire other companies.”
Another high point was meeting “Shark Tank’s” John at a trade show in Las Vegas and showing him her product. He later sent Russell a tweet saying she reminded him of how he hustled as a young entrepreneur 20 years ago.
Russell’s commitment to community includes donating one case to a local hero for every 12 sold; speaking to students about entrepreneurialism; and becoming Missouri’s new spokesperson for the Made in America Movement.
“Many other women my age are either not afforded the opportunity to start their own company or don’t have the tools to do so,” Russell says. “So far in my career, I have started two successful businesses, turning my dreams into a reality. ... I often work 16- to 18-hour days and stay positive knowing my hard work and dedication doing what I love will pay off.”