20 Questions with Jae and Katy Lee
1. What is the most difficult obstacle you’ve encountered so far with RuMe?
Jae: Managing five distinct business channels that have all been growing at the same time.
Katy: Managing a fast pace business. Everyday is something new.
2. Where do you find inspiration for new products?
Jae: Ultimately we design products that we find will make our lives a little bit easier
and convenient. I wish I could say something romantic like I get inspiration from watching
the sun set over the Rocky Mountains but really it’s like I really wish I didn’t have to put cash
in my socks while on a run - voila - the Cuff is born!
Katy: When creating new products we are always asking the question, “How can we reuse it?
How can it make our lives easier and what other
function uses can it be used for?”
3. What is the best thing about working with your wife/husband? What is the biggest challenge?
Jae: You know that question that has been lingering in your head since you left the office?
You can ask it at 2am. That’s the best part, which is also the worst part. Our business is
always there between us, always on call.
Katy: I’m not going to lie, this is something I’ve had to work on. Being a business owner means
I’m always living RuMe. I feel lucky that Jae and I are doing this together and understand the goals
we’ve set for ourselves. I just feel bad that I can’t ever turn the RuMe volume down when family members
visit at Thanksgiving!
4. Every business has great stories - what is one of your favorites so far?
Jae: I would say the first time we exhibited at the New York Gift Show – we really had no idea what
we were doing and we actually went to a long lunch before setting up the booth, thinking it wouldn’t
take that long. Ha! We were completely unprepared and basically got our entire booth from The Container
Store and somehow got it set up in an afternoon. Miraculously, we booked enough orders to pay for the
show – we kind of knew we were on to something.
Katy: Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing that my elastic belt from Anthropologie may
be a great material for the Cuff. The next day we tested it, took pictures of our mock up and sent them
to the factory. Four weeks later we had actual product in our hands.
5. At RuMe, I feel:
Katy: An Energizer bunny
6. Describe the RuMe brand in 3 words:
Jae: Fresh, innovative, colorful.
Katy: Stylish, multi-functional and timeless
7. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Jae: Eye contact
Katy: A smile
8. Which RuMe product do you use most yourself, and for what?
Jae: Reveal Quart Size: great for organization and travel; and the macro RuMe: holds 50lbs so
it useful for so many purposes (especially with a kid in the house.)
Katy: So this isn’t a fair question because I use almost every product from the time I get up in
the morning to the time I get back home. The Cuff in particular I use every morning to get my
coffee and love that if I’m out with Sophia on a walk I have a place to put my money and keys.
And of course there isn’t an item either bought or owned that isn’t carried in a classic RuMe Bag!
9. What was the "light bulb" moment in creating RuMe?
Jae: Sake – I say sake because sometimes when you’re coming up with an idea, nothing like a
little liquid courage to flush it out. (Everything in moderation of course!)
Katy: I would agree with Jae’s answer: SAKE.
10. Greatest moment in RuMe history?
Jae: First order from our first national account.
Katy: Seeing our first shipment of RuMe Bags from Korea in April of 2008. The quality, shape and
patterns were amazing. I felt excited that we could offer people a product that I had personally been
looking for: a stylish, strong, functional and machine washable reusable bag. The bags are so great
and fill so many purposes that sometimes you forget you’re actually helping the environment!
11. First Concert:
Jae: Mr. Mister – played after a Colorado Zephry’s minor league baseball game – for the longest
time I though the song “Kýrie, eléison” was “Carry a Laser” which made total sense to me since
I grew up watching Star Wars – everyone carried lasers!?!?
Katy: Summerfest 1989…Salt-N-Pepa.
12. Country you most want to visit
Katy: New Zealand
13. If I wasn’t working at I RuMe, I would:
Jae: Be in better shape.
Katy: A better cook.
14. Brands you admire:
Jae: BMW, Nike, Apple, The Container Store, and Nordstrom
Katy: Apple, LuLulemon, Aden + Anais.
15. I live on:
Jae: Whey protein shakes
Katy: Skinny Vanilla Lattes
16. I wish I could:
Jae: Take better photographs – I must be the only Asian person who can’t work a camera.
17. Explain your “green” philosophy and how it applies to RuMe:
Jae: Little things do matter and living a more sustainable lifestyle does not have to be at all inconvenient.
Katy: Eco should be easy and that is what we always strive for at RuMe.
18. You work in a competitive space – what makes RuMe different from other eco companies and other bag companies?
Jae: We have a whole portfolio of products that continues to grow. There are only so many bags one
person needs so we try and develop great quality, multi-functional, reusable products for all facets of the day.
Katy: RuMe is very distinct. Our bags are the strongest in their category. They're able to hold up to 50lbs and RuMe is a true tote so it has a gusset and flat bottom to make it easier for loading and unloading. We left no stone unturned in development and
have never compromised on quality and function in any of our products.
19. What’s your biggest indulgence?
Jae: Hugh’s Chocolates from Oshkosh, WI – my mother in law brings some every time she visits – they’re so good!
Katy: Turtle Sundae at Gilles in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
20. Name 3 things every entrepreneur should remember:
Jae: The harder you work, the luckier you get; it always costs twice and much and takes twice as long; take
risks, calculated ones if you can.
Katy: No task is above you, be penny wise and learn from your mistakes.