15 Questions with Krysten Kauder the Designer Behind Ryan Porter



Several years ago I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and came across a post with super cool personalized bracelets. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love anything that you can customize and is totally unique to you - so I was instantly intrigued. The brand? None other than Ryan Porter. After visiting their website, shopryanporter.com and ordering a bracelet, or two, I was dying to know who “Ryan Porter” was. Finally, several months ago, I met the trendy and super cool designer behind the brand, Krysten Kauder.

Kauder started the brand when she realized she wanted to add something playful to her arm party and the rest was history. With bracelets, anklets, and necklaces that say things like, “As If”, “#Boss”, and “BFF” the brand totally speaks to us. And if you’re feeling extra creative, you can add one with your very own personalized saying. Now, you’re probably thinking, why is the brand called Ryan Porter? Kauder told us Ryan is a family name and Porter means, “to wear” so it just clicked. Read on as Kauder sheds some light on what it took to start her own company and gives us her best advice for Making it in Manhattan

1. When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in fashion?
Ever since I can remember I have always been interested in what people are wearing, following trends, etc. It wasn’t until interning in college that I knew it was 100% what I wanted to pursue. Originally, I went to school studying Psychology, but I wasn’t happy. I had a discussion with my cousin (my mentor basically) and she knew I loved fashion and suggested it and I thought, “of course!”

2.What college did you attend and what did you study? 
The Ohio State University. Fashion Merchandising. 

3. When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience? 
My first internship was at Miguelina, in the summer of 2007, while I was still in college. I learned so many things— I’m not sure I can choose just one. I learned that this city and networking and working your butt off can bring so many opportunities. I now collaborate with Miguelina on bracelets for her brand.

4. What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?
I was a sales representative for Chan Luu—I actually heard about the opening through a friend on Facebook—she connected me with the interviewer, met with her and got the job!

5. What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?  
Helping others get ahead too much—ha! For example, I had assisted the PR department of IMG during fashion week for many seasons so I then connected my friends with my contact so they could help as well—Turned out that IMG had accidentally accepted too many interns so they randomly cut people and I was one of them —but my friends were able to go! This has happened a few times in my life and I still go out of my way to help others get ahead, but now I make sure to watch my own back, first. 

6. Who have been your biggest mentors in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you? 
Unfortunately, I have not had a mentor—I am currently actively looking for one now that I have a business that solely depends on me. But up to this point, I got where I am today strictly on my own with the support of my family. 

7. What is one thing you look for when interviewing a potential candidate for your company?  
Honestly—simply that we jive well together. Ryan Porter is still a small company so ultimately this person will be communicating with me constantly—they are my right hand person. 

8. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?  
Don’t get down on yourself—it will all work out.

9.What was your inspiration behind creating your brand Ryan Porter? 
Shortly after interning at VOGUE in accessories and assisting the girls at DANNIJO, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I knew I wanted the company to be jewelry based. My boyfriend and I were in an art store and I saw alphabet beads and thought it would be cool to add to my #armparty but wasn’t sure how to incorporate it in a cool way—my boyfriend pushed me to just do it— and I did.

10. What is your favorite part about being a designer?
My favorite part about being a designer is seeing the reactions of people when we make bracelets on the spot at stores and events—everyone is so excited and happy to create their own message bracelet with us—that makes everything worth it.

11. What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line? 
My biggest fear was that people weren’t going to like the product—a close second fear was that starting my own business was going to be more than I could handle.

12. Where do you go to for inspiration when trying to design a new collection?
There are several jewelry supply and trimming stores in NYC that I love to visit and see what stands out to me—I think about what I personally like and try to take those components and design it into something new—I also ask my Ryan Porter brand ambassadors for their opinion.

13. What are your goals for Ryan Porter in the future? 
I hope to grow Ryan Porter so when people think of the premiere customized jewelry brand, they think Ryan Porter. Also, we are in the process of creating a super cute, on-brand cart that we will then be able to franchise across the country.

14. What importance, if any, do you feel social media has had in the growth of your company? 
I owe almost all of our success to social media. Social media for brands is hugely important. For us—Instagram in particular, has without a doubt grown our business. We have connected with celebrities, stylists and editors via Instagram because we could not find a contact any other way—this has led to Debra Messing, Fergie, Kendall Jenner and others wearing our pieces—as well as Ryan Porter being featured on Good Morning America. Social media has also allowed us to reach an abundance of customers.

15. What advice would you give to someone hoping to create their own brand one day? 
First, focus and nail down what you want your brand to look like—the colors, the feel, your target customer, your product—then get ready to ride this rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship—it’s difficult, but it is so rewarding.

RELATED: 15 Questions with Heather Hubbard, Founder & CEO of MR. Handbags

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