We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Reitmeyer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Before I made the decision to start my own business I read a quote from Debbie Millman, a designer who I greatly admire. She said “I do not believe in work-life balance.” This quote struck me because I realized that I was spending my time in a job that I was not willing to commit to fully. Now that I own my own business all of my decisions and time commitments inform my passion for design and I am lucky enough to have created a company that allows me to earn a living from those decisions. In a sense, work and life are one-in the same. I think this is what Millman was alluding to in her quote?
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business is unique for the level of product knowledge that we bring to the rug industry. I design everything in-house and will frequently prototype new weaving techniques on my loom at home before trying them out with the weavers who I work with overseas. This didn’t happen overnight. I spent years in graduate school learning about the historical precedent set by great antique carpets. One of the most common misconceptions in the rug business is that design drives aesthetics. Rugs can be deceptive because they are flat and seem to be a two-dimensional medium. I think this has lead a lot of designers with a background in graphic and illustration work to enter the rug world. Aesthetics in the rug world is really driven by materials and technique more than design. A solid carpet with beautifully sourced materials and interesting weaving can be infinitely more desirable than a patterned carpet that has been rendered digitally. At Retorra our goal is to let technique and materiality drive design, that is really the essence of the brand.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a big runner and Houston has some of the best running trails all around the city. I’m afraid I would insist the friend go on several runs with me through the trails at Rice University, the bayou leading into downtown along the Allen Parkway and the trail around Memorial Park. Houston also has one of the coolest skyscrapers in the country, Williams Tower. This is an 80 story tower built outside of the downtown skyline. It is fascinating to be walking through a residential neighborhood and look across the houses to see this behemoth of a tower completely detached from downtown. Built by the late Gerald Hines, Williams Tower has for me always been a monument to Houston’s individuality. The Menil Collection is unique among any museum one could visit in the country. Possibly one of the greatest collections of Surrealist Art in the world. The building is one of Renzo Piano’s earliest public commissions. Best of all it is free to the public. Anvil Cocktail Bar, a constant favorite. Armandos for Mexican food Brash Brewing company for some of the best and most offensive craft beer that I know. Nasa and Space Center Houston
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Ruth and Neill Davis, owners “Found for the Home.” Day one when I started my company I was building out my showroom space and had no place to go. My plan was to bounce around coffee shops with lap-top in hand. Ruth called me when she heard the news that I started on my own and immediately offered me a desk and an internet connection in their office, no questions asked. That kind of generosity and mentorship is the x-factor in starting out. You cant put it on a business plan, there is no metric to measure it but when you find it, there is a huge morale boost that springs you ahead.
Lauren Marek Photography