Sarah Ford is a Texan through and through, hardworking, friendly, and resilient— the bootstrapping kind. A native of San Angelo and graduate of the prestigious Harvard Business School. Sarah's father served in the Marines and after her undergrad at University of Texas she went on to become a member of the United States Marine Corps, where she traveled around the world and served three full tours at the height of 9/11. Sarah went on to start Ranch Road Boots from her love and appreciation of western culture and a love for boots she could have only inherited from her beloved "Daddy Tom", her grandad who was the epitome of a cowboy in Texas in the 40s.
Giving back to those she served with, who protect the roots and values that inspire her brand, and the community which armed her with the skills and work ethic for the entrepreneur she is today, is part of her mission with Ranch Road Boots.
Through RRB, she gives back annual proceeds from sales to the Semper Fi Fund , which supports veterans from all branches of the armed forces. She has also made custom boots for amputees, something she'd like to do more of.
To celebrate the anniversary of the USMC and Veterans Day, we chatted with the veteran herself to learn more about her experience as woman of service and the importance of this day.
Keep reading to check out or conversation with Sarah Ford.
Did you have a family member or members who also served in the armed forces or inspired you to serve? What got you interested in joining the Marines?
Yes! My Dad, 2 Uncles and 2 cousins served in the Marines.
What was your first assignment as a Marine?
I was commissioned as a 2ndLt in the Marines on August 10th, 2001, so September 11th happened a month later while I was training at The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. My first duty station was in Twentynine Palms, California. About 6 months after getting to California, we all deployed to Kuwait where we spent about 30-45 days before moving into Iraq in March 2003. Our logistics units supported the fastest and furthest movement in Marine Corps history, the Marines were outstanding and our training worked!
How were you commissioned? What rank did you leave the Marine Corps with?
After college, I started working at a software company in Austin. I quit my job and went to Officer Candidate School in June 2001. After 10 weeks of “boot camp” I graduated and received my commission.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned looking back on your time serving as a Marine?
I learned a lot of lessons. Let me think about that one biggest one!
Are there any misconceptions people have about what it’s like to be in the armed forces, more specifically what it’s like being a Marine?
Yes, people think you just do what you are told. The Marine Corps needs leaders and problem solvers, not people that take orders like robots.
Does anything you learned being a Marine come into play in terms of both being a mom and female entrepreneur, respectively?
Entrepreneurship is hard.
How did a career in the Marine Corps translate to you getting a degree from Harvard and furthermore starting your own company?
Well I think I got into Harvard because I am a Marine. I think maybe because the traits that might make someone decide to join the Military tend to be good traits in business leaders too. Discipline, teamwork, judgement, loyalty.
Is there a specific memory or moment from your time serving our country that stands out as a very impactful or meaningful experience?
Its like my lessons learned. I think about things all of the time. It was 5 years of my life on active duty but impacts me daily.
What, if anything, do you miss about being a Marine?
Being around Marines!!
What advice would you give to any young woman who is thinking of entering the US Armed Forces, such as USMC?
Do it!!! You only have a short window of your life to do this, you can’t join when you're 45! Whether you serve 3 years or 30 years, the time will fly by. You’ll experience a very large amount of life in a very short time frame and it’s a great adventure.
What do you wish the average person knew about what kind of sacrifice it takes to serve the United States in the Armed Forces?
Of course people that serve in the military sacrifice, so do their families. Trying to start Ranch Road Boots while moving every year and parenting with a deployed husband was at times hard. But I view service as more of an opportunity and less as a sacrifice. I got more out of the Marines than I ever could have expected. I think some parents don’t want their kids to join or they think it’s some last chance organization and that is really just misinformed.
Today and tomorrow Ranch Road Boots will be donating an additional $10 from each sale to fund veteran assistance programs created by Semper Fi Fund. We appreciate your support of a veteran-owned business and your contributions which help us make a difference. Happy Veteran's Day!