Tell us about your tattoos.

I’m really obsessed with the idea of elevation and growth. People always say, “Oh, that’s just who I am,” and I hate that. I think you can be whoever you want. Knowing my past and where I came from I was never supposed to be this person sitting in front of you, none of this was ever supposed to happen. Even as I’m sitting here and you’re taking photos of me it’s the craziest sh-t to me. I’m just some fat gay kid from the suburbs! I still think that way!

What has been your key to making it this far?

I think you have to be different. This sounds so mean but I think there are a lot of mediocre people but I want to be great. I want to be known for being great whether it’s the way I treat people or what I do as a job. I think I always want to be known as being an individual and being totally different. I spent too much of my life not being who I am. I never really got the chance to be myself because I was made fun of so badly when I was younger. I always say, “Dress like a CEO and people will think you are.”

Fake it ’til you make it.

Right! And sometimes you’re in situations where you’re thinking, “I’m not supposed to be here but I’m wearing a bow tie and a suit so people don’t know any different.” That’s something I learned really early on.

Why the bow ties?

I can’t remember the year but it was one of the first runway shows I went to and I was randomly writing and covering for a friend of mine. I was nobody at that point and for some reason I wore a bow tie. I had never worn one in my life but I thought, “Hey, I’m gonna try this out.” I walked up to the press desk and we didn’t have passes or anything so we technically weren’t supposed to be there but we kind of talked our way in. I went back the second day and I wore a bow tie again and the woman immediately said, “Oh, you’re Ryan, the guy with the bow tie,” and immediately she took me through the crowd to my seat. That was a lightbulb moment. People noticed it. I just never stopped wearing it and it became my brand and who I am. I figured it was an easy way to make people remember who you are. That’s the best thing you can do to try to get a job in this industry. I mean, people thought I was legit way before I was legit. I was interning and getting into every hot party in Chicago because of this damn bow tie.

Do you have any tips for those looking to get into PR?

You have to be nice to people. There are a lot of people in PR that just aren’t and I don’t really know why but I think you have to be nice. You’ve gotta look great, which we already covered, and just try to work harder than everyone else. There are a lot of people who are just kind of getting by and I think you have to do your best to go above and beyond. And you have to meet everyone, that’s the number one thing for PR. My job is to know people and to connect people, you can’t just shake hands. So meet everybody, dress great and bust your ass!

Are you dating anyone?

No. I’ve never had a boyfriend in my life. God, we can go off the record and talk about that for three hours because I have no idea why! I can’t figure it out for the life of me.

Maybe you are too picky.

Maybe? I don’t get approached but I also don’t approach. I’m a very nervous person. I can talk to anybody but when it comes to a guy I’m attracted to I cannot speak, I turn into a total blubbering idiot. I’ve been on plenty of dates but I definitely want a serious relationship very badly. I think it would be amazing and I think I would be really good at it. I don’t know if life is just telling me it’s not time or I’m not ready or maybe I have more work to do myself before that’s supposed to come. Everyone just says, “It comes when it’s supposed to,” which is so annoying!

When you do find Mr. Perfect, where would you take him?

Good question. Have you guys eaten at Glenn’s Diner? It’s up off of Montrose and it’s amazing. That’s one of my favorite places. I also love Sunda. I think Sunda is so damn good!

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?

Tom Ford. I think he’s unbelievable and he’s a lot of what I’m not and I think that’s why I would love to sit down with him. He’s so confident in his decisions and in his creative direction. He seems like he’s someone who never ever questions himself and is always so self-assured in what he wants to do and I’m the complete opposite.

Photography by Natalie Probst

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