James, Tell us a little about the store?
Ryan James Studio is an independent lifestyle store in Glasgow. Focusing on menswear, we curate a range of clothing, accessories and grooming products alongside homeware and gift items created by independent brands from the UK and Europe.
What made you chose to open a store in Glasgow?
After spending six years as a Visual Merchandiser in London, I decided to go out on my own. My experience of traveling within Europe and the United States helped bring Ryan James to life, but to make it happen, I knew I had to come home.
There is so much happening in Glasgow – be it art, music, food or fashion – that helps make the city vibrant and dynamic. I knew Glaswegians would understand the value of good independent design and that’s why Glasgow had to be the home of Ryan James.
The response has been fantastic so far as people seem to love what Ryan James is all about. I’m really excited to carry on growing the store, bringing more designers and brands together, making independent design accessible.
How do you curate the items in the store?
Curating products is my favourite part of the job! I have a rough idea of what styles I am looking for when I am choosing new pieces, but I always have my regular clients in mind, ensuring I choose items I know they will enjoy.
Ryan James Studio is all about well-made, key pieces – the things you reach for time and time again. This is fashion, it’s impossible to ignore trends, but overall, the design, quality and functionality of each item I choose is most important.
I think of the store as one big dressing room and when I’m viewing a brand’s collection, I’m always thinking about how individual pieces could mix and match with other products in-store. Once the clothing is set, the accessories, grooming products and most recently, homewares, contribute to creating small, capsule collections to suit different customer needs.
I am passionate about supporting independent brands and always on the lookout for exciting new, local designers to introduce to the store as I strongly believe people are increasingly interested in the origin of what they buy. It’s great to be able to offer products that are made right here in Glasgow alongside those from further afield.
What is the worst thing about having a store on the high street?
Working on a Saturday!
How do you stay focused on a day to day basis?
Lists upon lists, upon lists! Working on your own is a daily challenge, but the fact that I’m the one deciding which way the business moves is probably one the biggest motivations. It’s hard work, but it’s very exciting and rewarding to be working so closely with smaller brands on local events and projects, as well as constantly thinking, “what’s next?”
I am also very lucky to be surrounded by a great network of creative people who are in a similar position. Collaboration is very important to me as I believe it helps us grow, so we support each other on a daily basis. Whether it’s a quick phone call to talk through an idea someone has, or meeting up to discuss potential opportunities to work together. Glasgow in particular has a sense of friendship and community that really helps.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Without a doubt, Harry Gordon Selfridge, the creator of Selfridges is my main inspiration in the world of retail. He completely changed the way people shopped. Selfridge made shopping an enjoyable experience rather than necessity. Where products were once hidden away and requested by customers, he made trying items open to all. I hope to offer an equally welcoming, personal experience at Ryan James Studio, away from fast pace of the high street.
A little closer to home, I’m constantly inspired by all of the people who are taking the massive step to launch their own business. It’s amazing to see how many independent stores, hairdressers, coffee shops and restaurants have popped up in Glasgow, as well as the number of individuals offering services working for themselves. It’s a daunting prospect, but to see so many others doing the same is a huge inspiration.
Take us through a typical day at Ryan James Studio.
I live in the City Centre so it’s great to be able to walk to work and grab a coffee on the way. Once I get to the store, I’ll set a to do list for the day, normally starting with packaging up any online orders ready to be sent out.
Each day is pretty varied and I try to be as organised as I can. From planning social media content, catching up with the brands, and organising photo shoots and events, it can be full on. Finding new brands is definitely a highlight; it might be through Instagram, a mutual friend or a designer reaching out. I always like to invite new brands into the store too, to meet them and see the products first hand.
Above all, customers come first, so I’ll always break away from a task to chat to them. Some of my regular visitors will make appointments to pop in. It’s great to make them a coffee and have a chat while they’re trying things on. I want people to feel relaxed in the store, so if you’re visiting, don’t be shy; I’ll get the kettle on!
If there was one piece of Advice you could give to a new designer what would it be?
Get yourself out there! I think it’s so important to talk to your customers and possible retailers as much as possible – to hear feedback and understand what will also work for them. It’s amazing to feel a personal connection with a brand and being able to share the story behind a product is so valuable.
James Rennie / Director / Ryan James Studio Ltd.