I am so thrilled to introduce to you today the stylish ladies behind Anders Ruff Custom Designs. Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff met at a preschool open house where they realized they shared a love for all things paper, parties, design and art. From here, they decided to go into business together and created Anders Ruff to bring some inspiration and innovative style to celebrations and events for those who share in this party passion. Maureen and Adria have contagiously fun personalities which is evident in the work they do, their personal style and in this interview below that I am so excited to share with you! I hope you enjoy meeting these two incredible women and checking out some of their amazing event styling and printable collections! To see more of their custom designs, please visit www.andersruff.com.
What inspired you to become a party stylist and ultimately to found Anders Ruff?
Maureen: Ultimately, my love of paper since I was 2 and literally able to hold a crayon. I sold homemade stationery on the side of our street when I was 5 or 6. (Not lemonade!) I became a graphic artist and fell in love with the party styling and branding of our products. I have always loved decorating and entertaining. Even though I have studied really hard and earned a degree in engineering at one of the top public schools in the country (University of Michigan), I never felt “right” thinking of myself as an engineer. I always seemed to fall back on designing. I checked all of the “boxes” and went to college, got a great job in capital medical equipment sales and met my sweet husband. The only thing lacking was my feeling of fulfillment career-wise. When I started designing on the side after having my first son, Jeffrey, my work became more popular and it took off from there and I realized what I was supposed to be doing.
Adria: I originally went to school for fashion. (Auburn University, Bachelor of Science, Apparel Merchandising, Design & Production Management: specialized in Design) I thought the fashion industry was so glamorous and exciting way back when. I worked in the industry for almost 7 years, and just never found my niche there. I quit the corporate world, and started my own free-lance company doing photography and eventually graphic design while we lived in Ohio. I knew my passion was graphic design once I taught myself how to do it. I’ve always been a party girl at heart so when I met Maureen here in South Carolina, we knew immediately that we needed to combine our ideas and design skills and go from there. When you do what you love, good things always happen!
What is your favorite part of your daily work … when you reflect on the day, what is most rewarding?
Maureen: I love the feeling of completing a new custom graphic design collection and styling it for a professional photo shoot. It takes hours upon hours to create our packages (and style / photo shoot them), but I truly feel the happiest when I am designing. I also love getting feedback from our fans and clients. It just feels so wonderful to create things that others are excited and inspired by. However, I could do without all of the admin work and emails
Adria: I feel the most at peace and in the “zone” when I am styling for a photo shoot. Even though this doesn’t happen daily, it is truly the most rewarding to me. Interior Décor is a hobby of mine, so I get to utilize my decorating skills along with staging our parties. I also love when Maureen and I have design sessions for our upcoming printable collections. We have so much fun working together – she has become one of my best friends/sisters and our ideas/styles mesh just perfectly. We both have a wicked sense of humor, and our design sessions are more like quality girl time than actual work!
Do you have any advice for other working moms?
Maureen: Everyone loves being with their children, so if you are going to take time away to work, make sure that it is working at something that you love. I love my children dearly and they are my first priority. My work doesn’t seem like work and is also very fulfilling, so I feel lucky to have that balance. I am guessing it is because my work feels natural to me, so maybe that is why it doesn’t feel like “work”. Also, I want to teach my children good work ethic (as I was taught by my father) and also to follow their passion. I think my boys (although very young) are learning this through seeing what I do.
Adria: Learn when to say “No”. I’m serious! It is tough balancing work-life and family/social life. Do not let others guilt you into projects/requests unless you absolutely want to be doing them. Life is too short, and goes by quickly so be picky about how you spend your time. If you aren’t finding happiness in something you are doing, stop doing it. This applies to work, kids, family, friends, and extra -curricular activities. Put yourself first – I love the old saying “If mama ain’t happy , ain’t nobody happy”. Once you have narrowed down your time/efforts to what you love, then focus on GRATITUDE. I can’t express that enough… the more you show gratitude, the more positive things will come your way.
What is your most memorable party design project?
Maureen: Our most recent project for Universal Studios for the Target launch of Bridesmaids the movie. We designed and styled a “girls night in” printable package that will be an exclusive offer inside the Bridesmaids DVD/Blu-Ray movies sold at Target. (9.20.11 is the big day they hit shelves at Target!!)
Adria: I’m going to have to agree with Maureen on this and defer to her answer.
If you could style a party for anyone in the world, who would it be?
Maureen: Martha Stewart. I know that sounds cliché but she is such an idol to us – we love how she is such an entrepreneurial powerhouse and we are constantly inspired by her style, business sense and her background. (Talk about a high pressure event that would be! We are up for the challenge)
Adria: Oprah Winfrey. Can you imagine how exciting it would be to be a small part of Oprah’s world? She has been empowering women/moms for years – she is a huge inspiration to me and I would be honored to ever have the chance to work with her for a special event.
What thing/place/event were you most recently inspired by?
Maureen: Pinterest! Obviously that is what it is for. I can’t believe the amount of talent that is out there! I just adore it.
Adria: Even though I left the fashion industry, I resort to it for almost every project I work on – from store visuals, to colors, trends, photography shoots, magazine layouts etc. Fashion dictates the end-consumer purchase, no matter what the product is.
Where is your favorite place you have traveled to?
Maureen: Great question. Most recently, Aruba, with my husband. I have small children so our traveling mainly consists of local mountain or beach trips in the Carolinas.
Adria: Honestly – I am in love with NYC. I try to go once a year…. If I didn’t have kids, I would find a way to live there. I can’t get enough of it – the big city, the fashion, the culture, the food, the way of life, the artists… oh how I love it! Second favorite place is Charleston, SC…. I adore it so much that I do day trips just to be able to make time for it (we are 3 hrs away). The history, the smell, the ocean, the southern culture… it is my “close by” happy retreat.
Where in the world are you dying to go next?
Maureen: Australia! Partially to visit the beautiful continent but also to meet all of the talented party –women that live there and are so inspiring. I would look forward to meeting the ladies of Kiss Me Kate, a company we have been collaborating with on some really amazing stuff. These women are amazing, talented and truly a pleasure to work with.
Adria: It is a tie between Italy and Paris, France. I am half Italian/German, and everyone in my family says my Italian side prevails! I am dying to go to Italy!!! I have not had the opportunity to travel to either location yet…. And Paris, France would be equally amazing. If I had it my way, I would spend a month in both places so I could really absorb all it has to offer.
What is your favorite Rosenberry Rooms product(s)?
Maureen: I have an obsession with handbags, so I’d have to say the Maria Tangerine Diaper Bag. When I had my babies (only 3 and 6 years ago!), I had a Petunia Pickle Bottom bag and now they are even COOLER. I adore the Hannah Diaper Bag by timi & leslie, also.
Adria: I LOVE fabulous bedding. Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. I put a lot of time/energy in creating the perfect bedroom atmosphere for myself and my children. Rosenberry Rooms has an AMAZING collection of bedding. There are so many great choices, I don’t know that I could pick just one. I try to change my bedding every two years to give my bed/bedroom a fresh take on life.
Do you have any news that you would like to share, perhaps about upcoming events or projects?
Maureen: We just got off of a project for Universal Studios and Target. We were hired to design and style an exclusive collection of “girls night in” printables for the launch of Bridesmaids the movie at all Target stores. It feels so exciting to know that target.com and the stores will all be showing off Anders Ruff products in all of the DVD/Blu-Ray movies of Bridesmaids!
Adria: I actually am really excited about a new column we have launched on our website called the Weekly Ruff Draft. I am the editor behind this column (in collaboration with Maureen), and the concept is to show our readers “behind the Anders Ruff scene”. There are many people that look at our photo shoots, and are intimidated in putting together their own parties – we don’t want to discourage the average party-goer. We want to share important party aspects with our clients/readers so they feel confident in having their own parties while using our products. Most of our styled shoots include discount/dollar finds and simple tricks to create something so spectacular. Why not share it with others so they can enjoy parties as much as we do! And who doesn’t love a good DIY project? The best part about this column is the interaction between the readers and us – I think they are now starting to feel comfortable in asking us how we did something which helps us determine what we want to discuss in each weekly column.
Now, just for fun:
Favorite Food – Maureen: Peanut Butter/ Adria: Prime Rib and Lobster
Favorite TV Show – Maureen: Curb Your Enthusiasm/ Adria: American Idol and any Bachelor show are my two favorites (I have many more though. I am a TV junkie – thank you DVR… what would I do without you??)
Favorite Movie– Maureen: Bridesmaids (honestly!)/ Adria: (in no particular order) Barefoot in the Park, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, When Harry Met Sally. However newer movies would be Bridesmaids, The Hangover or Something Borrowed
Favorite Weekend Activity – Maureen: Taking family outings and going on “adventures” (as my kids call it)./ Adria: Get-togethers with friends… I can have fun no matter where it is as long as I am surrounded by my favorite people!
Favorite Musician/Band– Maureen: Usher, Cold Play, Maroon Five, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor (all very different!)…. The list goes on./ Adria: This for me changes all the time… here are some of my “go-to’s”: Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Coldplay, Pink, Dave Matthews, Black Eyed Peas, Harry Connick, Jr, The Rolling Stones, U2, Sting…. Honestly – I love so many artists, I could never choose just one.