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Press

Women in Business
November 16, 2012

Girls with Guns

it all started out of a garage

By JULIE ZEEB

DN Staff Writer

Sometimes dreams really do come true and for the ladies of Red Bluff-based clothing company Girls with Guns it all started out of a garage.

“Some people couldn’t do it with their best friends, but I couldn’t do it without mine,” Co- founder Jennifer Adams said. “We’re living the dream. The places this company has taken us and to meet people who know our brand is really fun for us.”

Part of what makes their relationship work is that one of them is a risk taker and the other is more conservative, Adams said.

In November 2008, best friends Adams, 32, and Norissa Harman, 34, formed a partnership, starting out by hand drawing, embroidering and pressing hats in a garage.

It wasn’t until 2012, that they were able to move to a warehouse in Red Bluff for their operations base and until recently both girls worked full-time.

In April, Harman was able to quit her job at PJ Helicopters and work full-time out of the ware- house.

Adams continues to work full-time as a realtor for Remax.

“Sometimes we’re here until 11 p.m.,” Harman said. “Other times it’s 19 hour days and we’re here until 3 a.m.”

The hard work they put into the business has been worth it, she said. While neither has a college degree, with one only achieving a high school diploma and the other only attending college for a short while before having to drop out to work full time, the girls have done well.

“We now have our line in 60 Sportsmans Warehouse, 10 local outlets and are in talks with two other large chains,” Harman said. “It shows that if you work hard and put your mind to it, you can make anything happen.”

The girls love the stories people tell them of how their story has empowered them, including a local cupcake business owner who saw what they did and decided to try launching her business, Adams said.

“It’s so empowering to hear people you look up to say you pushed me because I saw you girls run your business,” Harman said.

The girls first launched their line to give women hunters fun, trendy clothing, and now it has expanded to include clothing for younger girls as well, Harman said.

Harman and Adams said they feel strongly about being involved with their community, both as hunters and locally, and in helping others who come behind them.

The two are working with Sarah Gould, a Red Bluff teen who wants to launch her jewelry line, and love the mentoring role they have found themselves in, Adams said.

The two are involved in a number of organizations including Gun Owners of California, the National Rifle Association, California Outdoor Heritage Alliance Foundation and the Fregoso Outdoor Foundation, the later of which was founded by Tehama County natives Max and Kelly Fregoso who help wounded warriors and people with disabilities to enjoy hunting and outdoor activities.

They try to donate where they can to local charities and fundraisers, but being a small business with only two employees besides themselves, have to pick and choose, which is hard, Harman said.

One thing they do is to support some of the local shooting athletes such as Paige Pearce, a Red Bluff archer, and Jordan Munoz, who is a shooter that does local dog trials, Adams said.

The girls have done quite a bit of traveling they never imagined thanks to the business of promoting and shopping their line across the United States, most recently in Fargo, N.D. and Salt Lake City, Utah.

In Fargo, the two got to talk on a radio station with 50,000 listeners in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Among the more notable things that have happened with their product were the appearance of their line in the reality show Sarah Palin’s Alaska in 2010 and most recently having a sandwich named after them at the local Rockin’ R Restaurant on Antelope Boulevard in Red Bluff, Harman said.

“We’ve had the opportunity of a lifetime to connect with different people in this industry and to see different lifestyles and ways of hunting,” Adams said. “Last Spring we got to hunt in Queenstown, Auckland and other places. This is a male dominated industry and for us to be able to squeeze our way in and help empower younger, upcoming women is really cool.”

One thing that has helped is having a “killer role model”, which is what Brian and Shellie Riley of Red Bank Outfitters have been to them, she said.

“Brian has been out role model, mentor, father-figure and a believer in us and our brand,” Adams said. “We totally look up to him. His advice and the way he educated us in all his knowledge has been great.”

Riley is someone who has a really good heart and as a couple he and his wife have really looked out for them,

Harman said.

The girls are also lucky because they have support at home from her husband and Adams’ boyfriend who built things like a display case they have at their warehouse, she said.

Through connecting with people on facebook and twitter and working on programs with the Fregoso Foundation, Harman and Adams are trying to do their part in making an impact, she said.

“The key is giving back,” Harman said. “We haven’t had a chance to do that as much as we would like yet, but we want to one day when we can do a little bit more. That’s where our heart is.”

The two are still really excited when there at an event and they see people wearing their clothes.

“It’s so funny because they think we’re just random booth helpers,” Harman said.

In November, the company launches it’s fifth winter line and the girls are also on dvds of a pig hunt filmed in February at Red Bank Outfitters that can be found at Sportsmans Warehouse stores, including the one in Redding, that are being sent to US military personnel overseas.

They are also possibly going to be on an outdoor channel sometime in 2013, Harman said.

If she could give women wanting to start a business advice, it would be to follow their dream and work hard, Harman said.

“Really, it’s about how hard you want to work for it,” Adams said. “You have to want it. We came from nothing and in a way that drives you to strive.”

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Julie Zeeb can be reached at 527-2153, extension 115 or jzeeb@redbluff-dailynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @DN_Zeeb.