We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Levy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting my own business was a step I knew I had to take since my career began. This may sound cliché but I believe anyone who has the slightest interest in starting their own business already has what it takes. I am a fairly methodical person so life choices can be tough to make at times. This particular decision was an exception because of the support of my peers and the growth of confidence in my own abilities. Both of these took years to achieve. Before officially starting Specular, I did not have a clear vision of what I would offer as far as creative content. As a generalist by nature, I can take on almost any creative project given to me however, it was important to narrow down my skills to a strong few. Freelancing was a big part of this since clients would hire me for particular jobs or styles they needed. This gave me the insight into what my true strengths were. I then took these strengths and later applied them to my business. I started Specular as an outlet for clients to showcase high level content through a simplified workflow and cost efficient process. Creative projects should be fun and collaborative, not mentally and economically draining.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My focuses in college were graphic design and video production. I believe the technical skills and design fundamentals I learned from that time have continued to help me evolve. I’ve had a few special jobs throughout my career but one stands out the most and that was with Stanley Black & Decker. I was with them for around 10 years and in that time I learned more than I ever could elsewhere. My first boss there allowed me to push boundaries and try new techniques. This eventually gave me the expertise to thrive in newly created roles for motion graphics, video production and eventually 3D visualization. At that time for a global company, most creative work was sent out to agencies and the costs were astronomical. I was determined to bring all of that in-house. That job gave me the freedom to grow and strengthen my abilities. It’s important for me to remember those times and to acknowledge how fortunate I was to have that. I like to get my hands dirty with any and all things creative. I fail continuously but that has always given me new perspectives and opportunities. This is why I took the risk to start my own business. The uncertainties are what’s making me push harder for success.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1: As soon as he/she gets off the plane, we’re stopping at Chego in Chinatown. Best rice bowls on the planet earth. Day 2: After a night of rest, we’re heading south to Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna. With a little sunburn and exhaustion from the walk back up… tacos. Lot’s of tacos. That night we head to a concert at the Orpheum Theatre to see White Denim. Day 3: Bar hopping Day 4: Head to Venice Beach to get coffee at Intelligentsia. This day may include shopping for funky clothes – depends on the hangover from the day before. Day 5: Road trip to Joshua Tree for hiking and star gazing. Day 6: Hesitantly accept their desire to see Hollywood Boulevard. Spend hours looking for parking just to see a concrete star. Day 7: Plead for them to move here before stopping at In-N-Out for a 3×3.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The list is too long but I’ll try to keep it short. I’d like to recognize my friends who give me honest (sometimes painful) feedback and who have helped me build confidence as a creative. I would also like to mention other business owners I have met who continue to provide me with insight and wisdom to keep me motivated. Just as importantly, my girlfriend, Sarah. She has endured countless days and nights of me sitting at the computer working on client projects through the years.