Catching Up With Ruff Ties Founder Jennifer Parker

April 5, 2016

Apparel Industry Management Graduate and San Clemente, California resident Jennifer Parker has been busy since graduating from FIDM. After interning at TOMS Shoes in their first year of business (and during her final year in school), she traveled to nearly 20 countries and later became a substitute teacher. She later worked in apparel production with a private wholesale manufacturer and in the N3L Optics division of Oakley before starting her own business, Ruff Ties. And, she is a former Clippers Girl and appeared on The Amazing Race. We recently chatted with Jennifer to learn more. 

Tell us about business. Ruff Ties is a pet product line designed to help save animals. We sell super cute neck ties for pets as our primary product and we are currently expanding the line to rad jackets and vests. Ruff Ties is partnered with several rescues along the Southern California coast and is currently sold on our site, in the FIDM Museum Shop, on Amazon, and in six boutiques in Orange County. I touch every avenue of the business: analyzing our sales reports daily, marketing, social media, emails, calls, line sheets, trade shows, creative direction, and public relations. I freelance graphic designers and bring on interns for our events.

How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? I can't even begin to tell how beneficial FIDM was for my career. FIDM's energy pulled me in most instantaneously. I was in my element with like-minded creative people. As a FIDM Grad, you are truly separated from the rest. My education and experience at FIDM is the reason I was able to start Ruff Ties; to this day I have support from the Alumni's Association, the Career Center, and few of my professors. What's so cool is that if I have questions about production, sourcing, or just need to get advice, a resource at FIDM is a call away. I still take advantage of all the events on campus, from touring the Museum to purchasing fabric from the Scholarship Store. I am forever grateful for FIDM.

What advice would you give a new FIDM Student who wants to excel in school? Personally introduce yourself to each professor, tell them your goals and ask them how you can excel in their class. Stay actively involved and do not miss one class--you will fall very far behind trust me. Watch Shark Tank, attend the seminars and blogging events. You cant be shy in this industry even as a designer nowadays. My gift to you are Gandhi’s words, “If you don’t ask, then you don’t get.”

What are your ultimate career goals? Ruff Ties will continue to make people smile each day when they see ties on dogs while we continue to facilitate as many adoptions as we can. Our goal this year is to reach as many bloggers and influencers to represent and support our brand so we can rapidly grow. We plan to expand distribution to Unleashed by PetCo, Pussy & Pooch, Fred Segal, and Kitson in 2017. I'd also like to teach at FIDM or another private school, and be a global outreach partner connecting suffering communities in places like Mexico, Haiti, and Peru with education in apparel production and development. I currently sit on the Outreach Leadership board for Haiti at Mariners Church. We are hosting and educating the people of Haiti to start a small sewing manufacturer in Carrefour. I am so eager to see what this will do for the people who were once hopeless in Haiti; Ruff Ties will be one of the first American projects they will work on.


Categories: Apparel Industry Management, Alumni News, Careers