Former pageant girl turned entrepreneur Raquel, or Rocky Harrigan is blazing the trail for pro-gun small businesses.
Raquel "Rocky" Harrigan, 30, is not your ordinary military spouse. She is an entrepreneur and small business owner specializing in the sale of AR-15 parts. She got the encouragement to launch her business with her husband, Patrick, with the help of The MILSPO Project--an organization dedicated to helping military spouses launch their own businesses through leadership events, online educational resources, and local chapter meet-ups.
Rocky is a former Mrs. Alaska who appeared on "Buying Alaska" with her husband. If you are one of her 20,000 followers on Instagram, you see firsthand why she is successful in her craft.
I met Rocky at SHOT Show 2015 after online correspondence and we instantly became friends. We clicked given our shared interests in guns and helping fellow females find empowerment through responsible firearms use. Her efforts to promote gun shops at the local level intrigued me and will certainly intrigue you.
Below is my interview with Rocky about her company, Unbranded AR:
What made you interested in selling AR-15's and AR-15 parts? Have you always liked firearms?
RH: My husband has always been interested in firearms, so it's been something that is a part of our family from day one. We made the leap from enthusiasts to engaged in the business after identifying a gap in the market at the wholesale level that we felt we were positioned to address as well as anyone else. That's really what got us started. As for me, I have not always been interested in firearms. I did not grow up around them, and I'd say I had a healthy fear of them until I met my husband.
Honestly, I used to think that firearms were bad. But after understanding how my husband grew up, appreciating the kind of man that he is, I began to look at firearms as he does, as tools. Once my perspective changed, it opened up a lot of doors, and broke down a lot of personal and philosophical barriers that likely would have kept me from doing what I do today. It has been quite a journey, actually!
What is Unbranded AR and the mission behind it?
RH: UnbrandedAR.com is a clearing house for contract-manufactured AR-15 parts at both the dealer and retail levels. The core business of Critical Capabilities is parts provision for large, household-name OEMs. UnbrandedAR.com represents excess capacity from that core business, and it affords our clients the ability to purchase the same quality parts they would purchase elsewhere, just without a brand attached to it. Our mission is to provide our clients value. We consider value to be the intersection of price and quality, and we tailor our products to the 70 percent market demand.
If we provide a quality product at a great price and it is within the 70 percent market demand, then the product will move with velocity and everyone wins. That's why we focus so hard on 'consumable' parts, and less on 'custom' parts. Everyone needs a forward assist, buffer tube, charging handle, lower parts kits, etc. Rails, grips, muzzle devices, etc, are highly personal items--we stay away from those!
Your Instagram account, which is impressive in its own right, showcases your visits to gun stores all across the country. That must be a lot of fun! What led you to embark on such a journey?
RH: Stopping into various gun shops is one of my favorite things to do. From a personal perspective, I love meeting new people, particularly entrepreneurs. Each gun shop owner is a small business owner--an entrepreneur--and each has a story to tell. I love the stories of how a dream came to be a reality, because that is America as it is supposed to be, and it is philosophically encouraging to us. From a business perspective, we need to understand what makes our clients successful, because that's the knowledge that will make us successful. We've learned that what is popular in California is not necessarily popular in Ohio. Those visits help us constantly refine and reinvent our business model. Hawaii is next month! 😉
What advice do you have for newbies in the firearms industry, especially those who are skeptical about handling firearms?
RH: I'd say keep an open mind, seek out education, and give it a try. I also see the answer to this question as a greater Second Amendment issue. I think there's only so much that can be done or expected at the individual level regarding a personal philosophical shift towards building an appreciation of firearms. My husband and I are Christians, and as Christians, it is our duty to disciple others into the faith. We've found this works best one-on-one and long-term, with a mindset of quality not quantity. Toss someone a Bible, and what result will you get? Lead someone through the Bible over time, living by example and truly equipping someone to change his or her life, and the harvest is much more likely to be fruitful. I believe that this approach must also be taken with firearms.
Individuals that are new to the shooting sports industry need an invested mentor who understands the benefits of firearms, and what's at stake politically in our country. Think of it this way. If we looked to our left and to our right as we go throughout our day, and we picked one '2A uneducated' friend, co-worker, or random person PER YEAR and diligently worked on them, and altered their perspective, in 50 years we'd have 50 converts. If each one of those individuals had fostered the same mindset for 2A, and followed the same methodology, you would have a cascading effect that would touch and alter the perspectives of tens of thousands of people.
That type of network is possible, and it starts with each of us committing to make that difference. Also, it doesn't take a minister to lead someone to faith. Likewise, you don't need to be a Special Forces Operator to teach someone how to properly operate and be responsible with a firearm. Each of us needs to be a mentor and step up and lead.