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Meet Melanie Ryan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Ryan.

Melanie, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in a small town in central Florida, a shy kid with a constant hint of anxiety and a lot of curiosity. As a teenager and young adult, I wasn’t sure about what exactly I wanted to do, but I knew the type of person I wanted to be, and what I needed to change. My formula to any professional (and personal) success is when I decided to get over my nerves and waiting for someone to discover me and make the first move myself.

I’ve had various odd jobs (from wine bars to private jet centers, all of which I approached the decision-makers for an opportunity), and I believe contributed to a combination of “knowing a little about a lot of things” and experience talking with all kinds of people (great for conversation at parties).

After college, I met one of my mentors, the Director of a creative agency while I was managing a contemporary art gallery during an opening event I organized. The gallery partnered with a lot of local real estate developers and interior designers for their corporate art programs, so I gained experience and connections within that industry. For example, at the time, Art Basel Miami was the newest thing, and it was a big deal for me to attend and host clients at press parties and for designer awareness to select from us. What a whirlwind time.

The head of the creative agency I met, specialized in representing architects and interior designers for branding and strategy. I reached out and landed an interview, and was thrown right in. I still practice much of what I learned there today in regards to how I email, pitch, and collaborate. After some time there, I had an itch and after going through a couple bad heartbreaks, just needed a change. I made the move to California with my new boyfriend after he landed an architecture job in Orange County and I eventually landed a new job and worked in-house with a real-estate developer. I met the owners after reading about one of their projects featured in the LA Times, I cold-emailed them for a meeting, and I was hired that same week to handle their marketing for their residential developments in east Los Angeles.

After another move to downtown LA, the option to go freelance was provided and the developers were my first steady client, so I had some flexibility to also experiment with some more creative clients in the design community. Since then, I’ve pivoted away from a marketing focus to where I really thrive, in business development.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s interesting how what we overcome as kids can become an unexpected strength in our professional success. When I was younger, my social anxiety and dealing with my share of mean girls – a lifelong feeling of not fitting in, caused me to focus more on developing soft skills and be hyper-aware of being empathetic and compartmentalizing aspects of my life. I asked myself the bigger questions, and questioned the world around me. In a strange way, it made me understand people more and navigate the complexities of different characteristics, (both good, bad, and destructive), in the workplace as well as the traits of the end consumer. In the working world, oscillating between being creative and the business of creative work is a tough balancing act.

Additionally, like many elder-millennials, I graduated college at a time when the economy was shot, so everyone was operating on scarcity. No one was really making big geographic moves, and the mindset was to play it safe. The undercurrent clearly was forced to be more creative for survival, and actually engage with hiring creative thinkers, agencies, and developers. From that, my entrepreneurial mindset emerged.

What I’m struggling with now, is where do I take it from here? Do I need a partner or another administrative assistant? How can I diversify? I feel that the future is still working as a consultant, especially that more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of how flexible it is for them. However, what do I want my day-to-day to look like, being on-call remotely, or more long term 1 x 1 partnerships, intensive weekly or monthly sessions for their whole team? A lot to consider.

Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
I’m a Business Development Consultant, specializing in the built environment. *That consists of mostly architecture, art + design and the culture that orbits them. I also moonlight as an artist, with my architect partner, for site-specific installations, and small-scale architectural experiential work, (building a house together under this studio as well) it’s called OPEN for humans.

I’ve worked with architecture + design film festivals, landscape architects, architectural visualization studios, and global architecture firms. I work worldwide and travel often to make new introductions, develop strategic partnerships, and advise on untapped resources. Some would describe me as a professional conversationalist, I’m great at parties and always seeking to really connect.

What sets me apart is 1. I consistently find a way in. 2. I obsess and read about what’s happening and distill it down how it applies to you. 3. Excellent memory and I’m good with names. 4. I’m your biggest fan and they should be too. 5. I always follow-up.

What am I most proud of? Helping my clients succeed by connecting them with people that value their craft. I truly work with and represent such talented creative geniuses, but they need a hype man (woman), so that’s where I come in.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific moment, but I feel most proud working with clients that feel comfortable to really open up to me. It’s a very personal endeavor to dive into some shortcomings or areas to develop for new business. I get to know their strengths and their weaknesses and help them realize potential.

For example after a x(6) month to a year consulting contract, it always feels great to be referred to other people revered in the industry.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @melaniesryan

Image Credit:

Head shots by Joy Newell.

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