Ramy Brook Sharp, Designer and CEO of Ramy Brook opens up to The Impression about her brand and inspirations in our latest interview
BY OBI ANYANWU & IVANNIA MORTON
How did Ramy Brook begin and how did you find your passion to start it?
My deep love for fashion began when I was very young. I grew up with my mother and two sisters who all adored fashion as much as I did. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are of the four of us going shopping at the mall in New Jersey.
Ramy Brook was born out of the needs that I felt as a consumer. I was constantly on the hunt for the perfect date-night top and it was just not out there in the stores. The first six designs came from a place of need. I wanted pieces that were sexy yet sophisticated, didn’t cost a fortune, and that would look good with my jewelry. This idea was the beginning of building Ramy Brook, which has led to a great team of talented people and the success we have today. While our collections have grown, we always stick true to this initial DNA.
What were you doing before designing?
When I graduated from college, I moved to New York and began my career at Grey Advertising as an Assistant Media Planner. From there, I became the Media Director at a boutique advertising agency that focused on fashion accounts. That job was my first formal foray into the business of fashion and I absolutely loved working with creative individuals who shared the same mind-set and admiration for the industry.
How has the Ramy Brook brand extended into your life? Or vice versa?
We are one in the same! The brand is an extension of myself and I feel that with each collection, I am authentically presenting my ideas and vision to the world. Product concepts are produced only if I genuinely and wholeheartedly believe in them. As a working mother, I need outfits that are appropriate and stylish for all that life throws at me—from the boardroom, to the soccer field, or a party in the evening.
How do you balance family life with design?
My family’s happiness is my priority. It is important to me to see them off to school and put them to bed. My three children are all now teenagers so it is helpful that they now go to bed on the later side! I schedule my meetings and travel around their sports games, concerts and everything else that I would hate to miss. Thankfully, my children are very understanding when work situations arise and I can’t be there. My husband, Rob (Co-CEO of Ramy Brook), and I have included our children in many conversations about building the business. I think this is key as it allows our kids to be involved and feel invested in the brand. The rest is a bit of luck to be honest. They see that they are loved and also see my deep passion for the business. I’m crossing my fingers that I’m doing a good job.
What is the Ramy Brook woman like?
We create pieces that help women feel their best and encourage a woman’s strength and confidence. Our company motto is “happy, sexy, strong,” which extends to our corporate culture as well.
In a time of fast fashion, how do you keep up with the likes of consumers?
I design timeless clothing that is on trend, without being “trendy.” We have items that can be in your closet for years and still feel fresh. I also consider myself to be a big consumer so I personally know what it is like to shop and look for exciting pieces for my wardrobe. It is probably one of our biggest competitive advantages.
Each season, we work to create pieces that women will feel inspired by. In such a saturated contemporary market, we aim to design pieces that get pushed to the front of a woman’s wardrobe. There is always a desire for the next great, lust-worthy item.
What inspires you to continue creating?
I’m inspired by life and the desire for something fresh, beautiful and exciting. Every season, I want something new and different that also reflects the design aesthetic that I love. When it doesn’t exist in the way I want, we make it. When I have an important meeting, I envision the perfect outfit. When I go out to dinner, I imagine what I want to wear. When we go on vacation I can picture the beach outfit. When we go to a party I think about jewelry and what top or dress it would look best with.
Is there a place you go to get new ideas for the brand or to clear your mind?
I love to travel and I find it to be one of my greatest sources of inspiration. I have been fortunate enough to travel to interesting, beautiful places. Two places that come to mind are Mykonos and Capri. Both towns have fantastic shopping and glamorous women. Of course, there is nothing like New York City, which I fall more in love with every day. I enjoy sitting outside of Nello’s Restaurant on Madison Avenue and seeing all of the stylish women that walk by.
Are there any plans to expand the brick-and-mortar store?
Absolutely. We currently have our flagship brick-and-mortar store in NYC’s Nolita neighborhood on Prince Street. We view physical stores as a vital extension of our brand and are determining our strategy for expanded Ramy Brook retail locations. It is extremely important to us that our customers have a positive in-store experience. Touching and feeling the clothes is key, as well as seeing that the garment fits beautifully.
We are also focusing quite a bit on our digital presence. We want to ensure that our consumer is experiencing the highest level of customer service at all touch-points, from providing a fantastic interface to creating vibrant content across our social media channels.
Where do you see the Ramy Brook brand in 10 years?
The sky is the limit. In ten years, I want our brand to be as well known as Starbucks (LOL—kind of). I would like to add additional categories such as shoes and accessories and have a full lifestyle collection. We will see more brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country as well as a strong international presence. We will also actively innovate our website to adapt to the user behaviors of our customers. There are so many opportunities and we plan to take advantage of all of them.
Finally, what kind of impression do you want to make?
I think that one of the reasons why Ramy Brook is successful is because we as a company are always striving to best understand the needs of the female consumer. Clothing is very personal and having a great, flattering outfit can elevate your mood and enhance your day. Colors, fabrics, silhouettes and fit all make a huge difference. I feel that we are building a brand that addresses the multitude of clothing concerns a woman may have and as such, women feel confident while wearing Ramy Brook.
On a personal note, I would like to leave the lasting impression that women can start businesses and run them well while also having a family and a personal life. Of course, it can be challenging to juggle the different demands, and not every day runs smoothly, but the good days outweigh the bad and it is important to never give up!