A Florida couple that moved across the country to found an independently-owned, men-oriented wedding band company is looking to expand operations. The expansion would allow them to hire more Utah County residents and include women’s rings and bands.
Throughout the entirety of the company’s life, the couple has remained involved and united, offering aspiring entrepreneurs advice on how to get through the hard times when a business and a marriage are on the line. The pair discovered the need for more men-centered wedding band options while preparing for their own happily ever after.
“When it was my turn, there were four or five different options, and they were all way too much money, and there really wasn’t anything I could connect with,” co-founder Johnathan Ruggiero said.
Within 30 days, the couple tied the knot, moved across the country and started a business — Manly Bands. After two years in Florida operating their new business out of a garage, Ruggiero and his wife, Michelle Luchese, were ready for a change.
The couple set off in search of new scenery, permanently parking in Utah County and making a home and a company based out of their Class A RV. Ruggiero and Luchese chose Utah because of great pricing, kind people, and a booming entrepreneurial scene. The couple said they stumbled upon the wedding capital of the world by making the move.
The company currently calls Vineyard home with a dozen employees based locally and 24 employees overall. Since it was founded in 2016, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, selling tens-of-thousands of rings with over eight figures in year-to-date sales.
About 50% of the company’s inventory is sourced and manufactured in Utah County, although the remainder of the products and materials are found internationally.
Ruggiero said the extreme change furthered their relationship as newlyweds and business partners. Overall, however, their secret to running a successful business and maintaining their marriage is ultimately giving each other space.
“We have different personalities, obviously, and we love being together, but sometimes you need your space,” Ruggiero said. “We work together, 24/7, so it’s important that we’re able to do the things that fulfill us even if it’s separate from each other.”
In terms of work, Ruggiero and Luchese both fulfill the role of chief executive officer for the company, but oversee different aspects of Manly Bands’ operations. The couple is trying to bring that unique business dynamic to their customers’ experiences.
Starting from the beginning, Manly Bands hoped to set themselves apart by matching the ring to the person, not the person to the ring. The company currently has over 250 different styles with several material combinations available.
Now, the company is looking to expand its operations and number of employees, with plans to hire at least nine more people in Utah already underway. In the near future, Manly Bands is hoping to launch a sister company that oversees women’s rings with the same one-of-a-kind promise.
Ruggiero also said the company is looking to become more involved in the surrounding communities. From sponsoring sports teams to volunteer events, Ruggiero and Luchese said it’s important for them to give back to the community that not only welcomed them years ago but continues to support them.
With the company’s exponential growth and success, Manly Bands announced Tuesday that the company has appointed Provo native Marshall Smith as its new president. As president, Smith is responsible for developing the company’s domestic and international online and offline expansions, according to a press release from the company.
“As Manly Bands continues to grow our presence in Utah County, we’re very excited to welcome Marshall Smith to our team,” Ruggiero said. “At Manly Bands, Marshall is joining us as president and will be overseeing our amazing team and helping us continue to grow in Utah and beyond.”
A Utah native, Smith has led the operations of several companies based in the state over the past 20 years. Most recently, he was the former chief operating officer of Taft Clothing, a luxury commerce show retailer, which increased its revenue by tens-of-millions of dollars in the past five years.
With Smith’s leadership, the company expects to continue to grow rapidly in 2020 as well as expand product lines and grow Manly Bands’ international presence. Ruggiero said the company is currently on track to double their business in 2020.