Samii Ryan

Meaning By Design

Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’11, #138

Tobias Hibbs

Timing is critical. Especially in the digital publishing world. There is a point when a story grows larger than life because public awareness has become so heightened. Samii Ryan is a gifted designer/entrepreneur and, for her, that moment is now!

be unlikely to find a pierced gent in black leather and chrome who is sporting purple-tipped spiked hair sitting in the front row of a Barry Manilow concert.

Fashion and music have always been intertwined. It’s usually quite easy to tell the genre of music a person likes simply by the way they dress. Artists make visual statements with their clothing style and, before long, their fans have adopted a similar “look.” Typically, the dividing lines are sharply drawn between genres. For instance, it would Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’11, #138

“I put my mind to something and then accomplished it . . . that’s what you had to do.”
However, there is a trend that is defying genres and sweeping across the entire industry from pop to rock to folk. Artists as diverse as Ke$ha and Victoria Justice to Versaemerge and Eyes Set To Kill have all been seen sporting Samii

Tobias Hibbs

Ryan accessories. This craze has trickled down beyond fans so it’s not uncommon to see a number of people on the street who have added this style of jewelry to their every day look. In fact, the practice has become so widespread that AOL recently posted a feature on the trend. But for Samii Ryan, it’s about more than just the look. She designs with a purpose. Every single piece she creates has meaning. And that’s what sets her apart, that’s what makes her work so special. I first talked with Samii back in February when it seemed Pennsylvania had somehow been transported into the arctic. The landscape was a glossy white, wet flakes were hammering down (yet again), and it felt like spring would never ever arrive. Ryan was enrolled at a nearby college where her focus was on Communication Studies. “It’s terrible out!” she expressed. “It’s sleeting and icing and I’m stuck at my house because classes were canceled.”

After discussing the brutal weather, I commented on the wide range and number of Though Samii has been activities “I need to create something!” i n v o l v e d i n m a n y Samii has pursuits, that doesn’t passionately pursued throughout her life (sports, mean she is without focus. In fact, to acting, modeling, Tae Kwon Do, fashion, achieve what she has at such a young age — Ryan’s line was just picked up by etc.). Nordstrom — requires a great deal of “I really like to be creative and do focus . . . and discipline. At least some different things,” she responded. “My of that discipline she learned in Tae mom used to push me and my sister to Kwon Do. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’11, #138

open our creative mind and use our imagination, so I pretty much dip my feet into everything.” Her voice was soft and even with a velvety gravel bed beneath her tone.

Tobias Hibbs

“I have been in Tae Kwon Do since I was four,” Samii stated. “I never really got into a lot of trouble with drinking and drugs and all that because I stayed grounded. I put my mind to something and then accomplished it. When I was in Ta e K w o n D o , competing, that’s what you had to do, you had to ke e p yo u r m i n d focused. Then, with all the hard work that you put into training, hopefully you’d come out with a win. It definitely taught me responsibility, respect for others, respect for your t e a c h e r / m e n t o r, and discipline for myself.” When you browse through Ryan’s designs, you discover a gentle consistency. She has an eye for creating pieces that both blend in and enhance. There is a grace and natural flow to her work and she chooses color for meaning as much as look. With such skill, you might think Samii had spent years studying the finer points of design. “No, I kind of taught myself how to make jewelry and everything else,” she replied. “My mom used to be a t-shirt designer when I was little, so she Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’11, #138

taught me how to draw and sketch my ideas out.” Ryan tries to release a new product or line every month. Sometime she’ll just sit down and work on a new design, but more often she has a moment of inspiration — many times while listening to music — that drives her to create.

“My boyfriend works in the music industry — he’s a talent booker and a manager — and h e ’s c o n s t a n t l y sending me new bands to listen to,” she revealed. “I always listen to lyrics really closely and try to interpret what they are saying and what I think they are saying and how I can relate them to my life. When they are really inspirational and I really get into them, I’ll be like, ‘I need to create something!’” “All of my pieces have a meaning,” she continued. “I look online for inspiration from Native American culture and how their fashion was and I’ll try to put that into my work. The colors and the materials that I use really are related to the lyrics. For example, for inspirational

Tobias Hibbs

lyrics like ‘never give up, never give in,’ maybe I’ll use a peacock feather or some speckled feathers or something that just comes to my mind and really drives me.” “ W h a t d ra w s y o u t o t h e N a t i v e American culture?” I asked.

“When I was about 14 or 15, “I always listen to lyrics really Another great my best friend resource for her closely and try to interpret what work is Ryan, was Native A m e r i c a n , ” they are saying and what I think herself. Often Rya n r e p l i e d . they are saying and how I can h e r p r o d u c t “She used to do photos portray relate them to my life.” Pow Wows and a gently striking she wanted to young woman have me do them with her. My family with smokey eyes and a natural spill of thought it was ‘creepy,’ so I drifted feathery blonde hair wearing one of her away from that idea a little bit, but we own designs. The pictures really remained really close and she got me c a p t u r e t h e w a y S a m i i R y a n ’ s into Native American culture. The whole accessories can enhance a look to the culture just really drives me. My friends point of creating an aura. and my best friend really have given me my inspiration.” “I’m really lucky that one of my really good friends is a really, really good Over the years, Ryan has picked up a photographer,” she commented, trying wealth of knowledge regarding Native to move the focus from herself. “I American culture. During the interview, always have him take the pictures for she casually dropped bits of information me and everyone loves his shots. He regarding the meaning of certain colors makes my stuff look really good.” and items. In one instance, Samii p a u s e d t o i n f o r m m e t h a t o u r However, even though the designer is understanding of dreamcatchers is very also a highly effective model for her Americanized. She explained how, own designs and she has an incredible traditionally, every single thread of a photographer who is able to capture the dreamcatcher represented someone mood and subtleties intended, that is who has crossed our path and made an still not enough to successfully market impact on our life. However, even with her line. With all the competition — all of her accumulated understanding of other designers vying for public and the culture, Ryan continues to faithfully media attention for their products — it research every aspect of every piece takes something a little more to have that she creates. the spotlight fall on a specific individual. Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’11, #138

“I research everything,” she stated proudly. “I also ask my friends who are Native Americans and they help me out with a lot of stories, information, and the meanings of things. Plus, my mom is really big into spirituality and she knows a lot of meanings of things, so she’s a really good resource for me, too.”

It takes a celebrity or a trendsetter being spotted or photographed wearing a designer’s product. Fortunately, not only are a number of celebrities sporting Samii Ryan’s accessories, but

hair clips that we have. There’s a tribal hair clip that has a bunch of stripes with feathers on it and I love it! I wear it every day. Then we have a new piece, it’s called the Four Red Earring and it has four gorgeous, really long red feathers. I am obsessed “All of my pieces have a meaning.” with it! I probably wear that every day, too . . . I wear like they are also offering her their five feathers a day so I have more enthusiastic support for her work, as feathers in my hair than I have hair!” well. If you’d like to learn more about Samii One of the most exciting moments in Ryan, visit: Ryan’s career (so far) was just after New Year’s when she received a ve r y s p e c i a l n o t e : “ Ke $ h a ’s manager emailed me to tell me how much Ke$ha supports my stuff and how she’s really into it and she wants to personally thank me!” [Note: Ke$ha even went so far as to mention Samii when she was co-hosting the Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest.] “I always try to ask people how they found out about me and my brand and a lot of them found out about me because Ke$ha wore my earring for New Year’s! That made such a big impact on recognition and sales for me,” she added. In closing, I asked Ryan if there were any items she was particularly fond of or excited about. “I’m really, really stoked about the stones and crystal necklaces we have. Every necklace that I make has a meaning and how you wear it can reflect that meaning. I’m also really excited about some of the Songwriter’s Monthly - July ’11, #138
Tobias Hibbs