Building is in Ryley Wimer’s blood.
Coming from a family where her grandfather, father and brother own construction companies, she followed in their footsteps and earned a degree in the same field. For eight years, Ryley worked professionally as a project manager on numerous job sites in Texas and Kansas. In 2013, however, she decided to supervise a different project, and began building…her own company.
Established out of a personal desire to give women a new perspective on western fashion, Savannah Sevens is now celebrating its 10th anniversary. To many, it may have been a risky move to make a complete career change and dive head first into an arena she’s never been before. But Ryley strongly believed in creating a place where the tradition of western wear could merge seamlessly with mainstream trends. Her gamble paid off and Savannah 7s has grown from a side hustle in her parents’ basement to a brand widely recognized and respected throughout the western industry.
“When I was younger, I had trouble finding a place to shop that encompassed all aspects of my life, not just rodeoing. Women wear many hats and I wanted to provide a venue that brought those worlds together,” said Ryley. “Prior to starting Savannah Sevens, I had never worked a day of retail in my life, but I knew I was tapping into a niche market that no one had honed in on yet. I was excited to redefine western style.”
Building a Brand
The name “Savannah Sevens” was first inspired by Ryley’s lucky number. After making a long list of possible words that paired well with “seven,” she settled on Savannah because the two seemed to easily roll off the tongue together. When brainstorming ideas for the logo, Ryley knew she wanted it to reflect a cattle brand. An art project on Pinterest helped bring the design to life.
During its inaugural phase, Savannah 7s was a small operation in Ryley’s parents’ basement with product housed on a pool table. Her whole family assisted in whatever was necessary to get it off the ground and keep it growing, usually with a case of beer or a bottle of wine as payment.
Savannah 7s constantly outgrew its space over the years. Here Ryley's father Darvin and husband Michael are moving a container to the new shop for additional storage.
Ryley’s mother, Mary, spent countless hours helping with inventory, shipping and traveling to markets and trade shows. Ryley’s husband, Michael, was there to assist with everything from heavy lifting to tagging merchandise to late-hour shipping during the holidays. Darvin, her father, built all of her early display units and constructed the different shops she moved into over the years as the business continued to expand. And brother Colter has appeared in the men’s photo shoots and recently assisted on the remodel of the styling studio.
Ryley, her mother Mary, and daughter Blayke attending one of the Western & English Sales Association, or WESA, markets in Denver.
Ryley and her father Darvin in the new Savannah 7s headquarters the week he finished construction.
“I was three years in before I could hire my first full-time employee,” said Ryley. “I received so much help from my parents. They gave me the most valuable thing you can give someone - their time. I’ve truly been blessed with the most supportive family and friends who have believed in me from the start, and their commitment to continuously showing up proved that.”
Building a Family
Expanding Ryley’s business also became a balancing act with expanding her family. She and husband Michael started dating around the time Savannah 7s was launching. About half way into her retail venture, daughter Blayke was born, with son Bronson following two years after.
Ryley and her family, from left: daughter Blayke, husband Michael, Ryley, and son Bronson
While she had to press pause on a few things outside of work like riding horses regularly and competitive barrel racing, building a family stayed a priority. Because of the tight bond she shared with her parents and brother and the crucial role they played in her life, starting her own tribe was important. But she certainly had to get creative when it came to managing a business and a household.
Ryley documenting on Instagram her adventures of being a working momma, with first child Blayke.
Ryley shares on Instagram Stories how she balances her mommy and CEO duties with second child, Bronson.
Less than a week after giving birth to both her children, Ryley was back to work, and with babies in tow. Blayke would be strapped in a front-facing carrier while Mom was making phone calls, fulfilling orders and styling looks. Bronson would tag along on trips to market in Dallas and Las Vegas. Today, there are doctor’s appointments, school pick-ups and ranch chores that must be evenly distributed in between all of Ryley’s Savannah 7s duties. It may get hectic or even downright chaotic at times, but she’s been able to prove that the important things in life are worth it.
Son Bronson playing at Savannah 7s headquarters during move-in day.
Daughter Blayke having some fun amongst all the Savannah 7s orders being shipped at the Salina, Kansas post office.
Building a legacy
Over the last 10 years, it’s safe to say that things have changed, both with Savannah 7s and in the fashion industry. From a booth and trailer operation to e-commerce to providing an in-app shopping experience, Ryley has multiplied her product offering tenfold and reshaped the way her customers are able to view and purchase merchandise. She has grown her staff, established exclusive collections with designers, makers and big brands, collaborated with influencers, and connected with customers from around the world. Ryley has embraced shifts in the buying and selling process, navigated the evolution of western style, and jumped over social media hurdles. And while Ryley has ridden the rollercoaster ride of trends, technology and overall transformation, it has been imperative to her that Savannah 7s maintains its authenticity.
Savannah 7s Fall 2019 photo shoot
“This industry demands that we embrace change and I choose to thrive on it,” said Ryley. “But I also find significance in staying true to who we are. Our identity, our core values and the uniqueness of our offerings will always be priority because our customers know what to expect and appreciate that consistency.”
When looking ahead at the next 10 years, Ryley has plans. The daydreams and ideas never stop coming. Her mindset is to continue blazing new trails, trying new things, and going where other retailers haven’t gone. At the heart of her vision are the people: she has such an appreciation for her family and staff, all of the brands she has partnered with, and her loyal customers.
Savannah 7s photo shoot of staff and family
“My favorite thing about the growth of Savannah Sevens over the years is the relationships and connections it has brought into my life,” said Ryley. “I shake my head daily in disbelief at the incredible people I am surrounded by. I am building my legacy and I couldn’t have done this without them.”