From a young age, I have learned about entrepreneurship. I read that it takes a certain kind of person to risk so much, since the unknowns of starting something new are both scary and often incalculable. In order to gain support and achieve success, other people must believe in the product and the mission. A company’s mission is a key differentiator for many consumers like myself. I strive to support companies with which I share similar values. If they don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers on their social media accounts, that’s okay. Supporting small businesses enables people like me to better understand the story and the people behind the product.
If it were easy, we’d all be entrepreneurs. Making something out of nothing is even harder than it sounds. But the Flags of Valor founder, Brian Steorts, was determined to build a company that makes a difference for veterans, their families, and those that love Old Glory. While some successful entrepreneurs may credit their accomplishments to luck and timing, I saw firsthand that for Brian, it was pure hustle. Brian thought outside the box and executed accordingly to take his business model to another level by hiring veterans to make each flag. With each great idea came an additional layer of complexity as the company grew and expanded.
Just one week after starting at Flags of Valor as marketing strategist, I had the opportunity to visit the company’s facility in Winchester, Virginia. I was overwhelmed by the process. Seeing American wood take on a new life as a flag was a process that I will always remember. The smell of fresh cut wood and the striking colors of the paint filled my senses. I felt honored to meet the craftsmen and witness how Flags of Valor flags become a part of the fabric of the lives of people throughout the country.
Each flag tells its own story, just as so many recipients share their memories of service, sacrifice or their love of country. Flags are purchased for nurseries and play rooms while others are framed and engraved for retirement gifts. The stories that were shared with us warmed my heart. Sons, daughters, husbands and wives would reach out to share how their loved one cherishes their handmade flag. The craftsman signs each flag once it is finished being made, and I saw countless messages of gratitude sent or shared with their individual craftsman. Creating meaningful flags that serve as a reminder of the past with hopes of maintaining this symbol of freedom through our future is what makes Flags of Valor unique.
During my time at Flags of Valor I was able to learn more during my experience than I could have ever imagined. I quickly found myself immersed in America and each beautiful pillar upon which we stand. Because Flags of Valor is a small company, I got a deep insight into what a small business really is and how small businesses operate. Situations that corporations would likely view as “no big deal” were some of the most critical moments for our company. Flags of Valor is a true American treasure that I have been honored to be a part of. The Flags of Valor family valued each individual. At Flags of Valor, smiles are shared even when mistakes are made. With every new opportunity comes a learning experience. Being welcomed with open arms to an ever changing, constantly growing company like Flags of Valor was an experience that I will forever cherish. Working with veterans enabled me to develop an even deeper understanding of their sense of selflessness, their humility, and their dedication to our nation. Every day was special. Understanding different perspectives and seeing the hard work that is put in each day by every member of the team gave me a greater appreciation for the meaning behind Made in America. Thanks to Flags of Valor, I better understand what our 50 stars and 13 stripes stand for. I really know why red, white and blue means so much to me and should mean so much to you.