We hope you've had an incredible Mother's Day celebrating and/or being celebrated depending on which category you fall in--maybe both? ;) In light of the holiday and to continue down our Q&A path that has been such a hit, we are featuring Savannah Sevens owner, ranch wife and mama (with another little one on the way) Ryley Wimer this month. Enjoy some insights into the ranch mama/wife/biz owner life via the Q&A below!
Ryley with Daughter, Blayke & Husband, Michael 4.21.19
What was your childhood dream? Did you achieve it or is it still in the works? (@rachblankenship)
This question will bring a girl a lil’ nostalgia. Looking back, I think first and foremost I wanted to be a mama. Growing up I traveled with my mom to rodeos all over the midwest. I would watch her friends’ babies while they made their barrel runs. Often times I don’t know that I was really even that many years older than them. Everyone used to say I was going to grow up and have 6 kids. I don’t think I doubted them, until I realized how expensive I was to raise ~ I’ve scaled that back a little now! We have a daughter, Blayke Lynlee, who is a few months shy of two and our second baby will be here by the end of June! We’ll keep you posted if we are then still sane enough to consider another!
Next I wanted a life involved in the Western Lifestyle. At that time I think I envisioned being a professional barrel racer and marrying a cowboy ~ you know the stereotypical dream of a lil 80’s baby, cowgirl, wearing red cowboy boots everywhere she went. I’d say marrying a rancher with a saddle bronc riding past, barrel racing as a hobby, owning a business involved in the heart of our Western Industry and getting to raise a family in this lifestyle is even better than I could have dreamed! My hope is that my husband and I are able to continue this way of life for bringing up our children.
The first Savannah Sevens Shop built by Ryley’s Dad, Darvin in 2015.
Did you ever imagine you’d be doing this or think it would be so incredibly successful? (@lyndseygarber) What made you want to start Savannah Sevens? (@casssgonzalez)
To be honest, I started this little venture to have just a Hobby Job. I had moved back to my hometown of Brookville, KS in 2011 to work for my parents’ construction company. I have a Construction Management degree and work history. Moving from the Fort Worth area to rural central Kansas, my social life took a steep decline as you could expect. By fall of 2013 I was looking for something to fill my time outside of work, and the wheels started turning. I had never worked a day in retail, and have no fashion/design training. Due to being located in an area remote from lots of social events and lifestyles that needed a boutique like Savannah Sevens, it wasn’t really ever anything I had previously considered. But with the rise of online shopping at the time and not finding ideal places to shop for the things I liked ~ the timing was just right. It didn’t just take off overnight, and like anything it took time, lots of hustle and dedication. But, I guess I’ve never had it in me to do something just half-a**, so I stuck with it and Savannah Sevens has definitely become more than I ever imagined.
Blayke Summer of 2018 in her Mac Wagon, barrel racing with mama.
What has been your go-to, must-have ranch mama item for your little? (@tiatia25)
Probably the item I’ve used more than I even expected is my Mac Sports Collapsible Folding Outdoor Utility Wagon. I have hardly used our stroller. It’s rugged enough to go thru whatever terrain on the ranch and fits all the must-haves. From propping Blayke up with a Boppy pillow, before she could sit on her own, to it being its own built in playpen, the perfect nap spot and everything else in between. I absolutely love it! At barrel races I’ve even sat her Summer Infant Pop and Sit Portable Booster chair with tray in there and we have dinner in the wagon too. It’s also my grocery hauler from the truck to the house (with Blayke buried somewhere under all the bags :). Hands down one of my best baby investments for outdoor life on the ranch.
2016 Fall Photo Shoot, Ryley being the hidden footrest.
How did you start your business? I would like to start my own boutique in the future and am not sure what direction to go in. (@shelbssslynn_) What was the hardest part about starting your company? What advice would you give someone starting out? (@kourtneyrlynn)
This has always been my number one most asked question. I would have to say research. That is my best piece of advice - for anything. If you want to learn about something - don’t wonder, don’t be frustrated you don’t know as much as the next person - do your research. Literally everything you want to know is at your fingertips. Google is an amazing thing. Don’t hope to be spoon fed information from a mentor (not that having one of those is a bad thing). It is limitless on what you can learn how to do, with online access. I had no retail background whatsoever, I just started figuring it all out on my own with research.
One of the hardest things is, e-retailers are all competing with one another. So many people starting out, or even those in the business, think just because they aren't down the road or in the same state, that they aren't competition. This is SO far from accurate. Even brick and mortar stores have to have a decent amount of online presence too or they will not make it. Anyone that I had thought to ask about how to do this or that with starting my business, was competition. I suggest seeking out mentors that are in your same industry but not in the exact same line of work. I encourage new business owners to really put the time into creating a business plan and model that is different than anything you have ever seen done before. Not only does that show respect for others in our industry that you admire, but it is the main thing that will point your business to success. I did 5 months of research and planning prior to even starting my business. And I haven't stopped doing it since day one. Online marketing and social media are changing every day. You can’t afford to not keep up with it.
Another thing that has really helped me is that I have a business management background and work history. Because of this I feel my focus and interest is as much on the customer service, operations, marketing and functionality of my business as it is all the pretty clothes and accessories. You can’t have success with one, without the other.
2015 PRCA Justin Boots Tour Finale, Omaha, NE Trade Show booth.
Would you ever consider having an open house/sale a few times a year at your shop? (@kalaade)
We get asked this question a lot, along with requests for open hours to come shop daily. In the beginning years of starting my business this is something we offered at times. We wish we could still offer this to those in our area, or ones passing through. But in recent years the business has scaled to a point that the online operation of processing large quantities of new inventory and the daily shipping of orders, hasn’t allowed us to do this anymore. None of our items have a price tag on them, as it isn’t needed for shipping out online orders. And we also operate in a compact and efficient space that can’t accommodate the typical shopping experience. Thank you for your interest, and should we ever change that up, y’all will be the first to know! Until then, please never hesitate to DM, call, text or email any of us girls at the shop to answer your fit and product questions. We are always happy to help!
Tiffany, Ryley and Peyton ~ the girls that make it happen everyday at the S7s Shop. February 2019.
We love your setups/photos… do you think consistency is important to your brand or do you experiment? (@bobswesternwear)
Thank you so much! I have always given a lot of attention to my product photos for multiple reasons. Primarily to give the customer the truest representation of the product. The consistency of natural lighting and unfiltered photos is critical in the customer being able to see the true color and texture of the product. Creating styled looks that I would personally put together and wear, gives the customer ideas of their own and a feel for how it looks paired with other products. I really do feel the lighting, layout, and backdrops of my photos are a significant part of what brands Savannah Sevens. It makes our pictures recognizable to our customers, no matter what online platform they run across a picture of ours.
Ryley and Blayke with Ryley’s Mom, Mary. Brookville Labor Day Rodeo 2017.
What do you think jump started your career to what it has become today? (@piperviewdesigns)
Though there definitely didn’t ever feel like there was a jump start at any point, I would say there are a few things that helped give me traction early on and have been the key to longevity as well. I had a very clear picture in my mind of what I wanted my business to be about. I have always stayed true to my style and never let my drive to always be doing things different from the next guy fade - from the products I select to the image of my business and the customer experience. When you start doing things the same as the masses, you lose your niche and get lost in the sea of “the same” in online retail. I also sacrificed a lot in the first 3-4 years. I kept investing back into my business, not personally making much of a profit for a long time. I have worked nearly 7 days a week until this year. I am going into my 6th year in business, and I just now, finally feel like I have made it. I have my evenings and weekends back and am enjoying getting to live life with my family and be present. Over the years I have been able to slowly figure out what works, what processes to put into place, and have the resources to ‘work smarter and not harder.’ It’s a pretty great feeling to be at this place. Last summer was the first time in over 4 years that I had the time to start going to some barrel races again ~ another thing I love that had to be put on the back burner. Everybody’s story looks different on getting to their goal or dream. I definitely don’t encourage others to give up so much all at once to get there, but I will say, whatever it is you are working towards will take serious dedication and determination to make it happen.
Ryley and Dad, Darvin ~ Father Daughter Dance 9.10.16
Would you share some of your favorite products and tips for your healthy, beautiful lifestyle? (@kalaade)
Thank you for your kind perception! :) But in reality I feel like my life is a wild, hectic, beautiful mess ~ probably like lots of you reading this. What used to be an active lifestyle of work, travel and multiple hours a day outside at the barn and horseback has now become a circus of trips back and forth from the ranch to my shop and chasing a toddler every other hour of the day, type of lifestyle. I’m really not the one you should ask about healthy living and eating, as I eat 2 meals a day as I’m speed walking past the fridge or pantry, grabbing the easiest thing to have on the go. I would say the one thing I’ve stuck with for years is having a Nature Valley Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Protein Bar nearly every morning. It keeps me full until lunch, and pairs perfectly with as much coffee as a girl can drink! As for products here are my must haves: Rodan + Fields Redefine skincare line (ain’t nobody got time for wrinkles or botox), a S7s Patch ball cap 3+ days of the week, Bellami Clip in hair extensions (just 2 or 3 wefts to add length and thickness and the best is when they still have a little curl or wave in them from a previous wear ~ it lets you tease, clip-in and go!), my newest make-up must have is Smashbox Photo Finish Radiance Primer (I use it on my cheekbones but can be used all over for a fresh glow ~ in pictures friends have been commenting saying I’m “just glowing” thinking pregnancy looks good on me, when in reality it’s just this primer haha!). These last products are very important to me, being someone who has had a melanoma spot removed, I feel very strongly about friends not risking skin cancer. So as to not have to sacrifice pretty tan skin: I try to always use sunscreen when outside, keep my skin smooth & faux tan prepped weekly with Bath & Body At the Beach Sand & Sea Salt Body Scrub w/ exfoliating mitt, and St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse & applicator mitt (for the best how-to on using this product ~ go give @shannameans a follow on Instagram and read her ‘Savannah Sevens Shoot (Part 1): Get Ready With Me & Behind The Scenes’ Blog.)
Shaley Ham @westdesperado, Ryley and Sammie Dallas Market Fall 2018.
What’s your best tip to balance the boss babe life of being a mom/CEO/wife? (@envieboutiquevisalia) Tips on balancing starting a business and having 2 small kids? (@kaylasuemann) Did you find it incredibly challenging to grow a business while welcoming a new baby into your life? Words of wisdom about doing both simultaneously? (@thea.does.the.things)
The timing of my business starting, was prior to having kids, so I don’t have any experience of juggling mom life while starting a new business. I was in my fourth year of business when I had my 1st child ~ and of course it fell at no other time than the beginning of fall & holiday retail season. By the time my daughter was 5 days old I was juggling doctors appointments and nursing while Facetiming my mom and Sammie (who I had sent to Vegas Market to buy fall apparel) saying ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ to every style and selecting quantities. So, no matter the stage in motherhood or your business, it is never easy to juggle it all. With a little time and experience now under my belt trying to be it all - the mom/CEO/wife, and about to add another babe in the mix, I’ve picked up a few things that have helped me. Delegate things that can take work off your plate - whether that is to an employee or outsourcing some things being done like the house cleaning or some marketing aspects of your business. I urge business owners to find online social media management apps and marketing services that make your life easier, so you can focus on just the things in your business that truly require only you and your talents. Always remember Time is Money. You have to put a healthy value on an hour of your time. And then you have to look at the things that are consuming the majority of your work hours. Are those hours truly making you money, for what your time is valued at? If not, you need to change this process or eliminate it completely. I have found that these are things that will make your business more profitable and also give you more time to spend with the ones you love!
Ryley with the Knowles girls ~ Jena & Whitney in The Let ‘er Buck Room at Pendleton Round-Up, 2018.
What is the BEST part about owning such an amazing business? (@quinn_roseberry)
I would have to say the people it has brought into my life and the ones it has brought me closer to. My family has been my number one fans and helpers of making this business work from the beginning. My Dad has built everything from my shop buildings to backdrops and show displays. Savannah Sevens wouldn’t have all its rustic vibes without him and his hard work. My mom and sometimes dad traveled to all my shows with me in the early years, happy to work for free and help make my dream come true. Not only my parents, but everyone from my husband, to nephews and good friends have spent countless hours in the shop during peak seasons, before I could afford full time help. Their time and support is an invaluable cornerstone to the success of my company. I have also been very blessed to find dedicated and hard working sweet souls to employ. They truly care about their work, the customer and what Savannah Sevens stands for. And that is a really rare thing to find. Then there are the customers that have been so loyal and supportive through the years, and many of which have become good friends of mine. And I can’t begin to name all the relationships built with so many wonderful people in the Western Industry ~ it’s like taking the rodeo world family I grew up in and extending it into my everyday work life. It’s unexplainable how cool that is. And for each and every one of you, I am so very thankful!!