We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamra Ryan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tamra, what do you attribute your success to?
I believe we have successfully built Women’s Bean Project into a brand because we attempt to consistently emphasize the “why” behind the product. We want to ensure that whenever someone is holding one of our products, it is clear that it is more than a bean soup or baking mix; there is a woman whose life is actually being affected by the purchase of the product. I think we are moving toward an economy where the purpose behind the product is becoming -and will continue to become – more and more important.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I ran track in college and at that time thought the coolest job ever would be to design running shoes for Nike, which led to me getting two science degrees. I still think that would be a cool job, though I also became fascinated with physiology and thought for awhile I wanted to be a researcher. I was fortunate to get my first job after graduate school working for a subsidiary of Rush Medical Center in Chicago, where we would take concepts out of the medical center and take them to market. It was a great way to use my science degrees, while also presenting opportunities to work in a start-up environment. I realized that the creativity afforded by small and start up organizations really fed my soul and helped present the opportunity to learn marketing and business development skills. The science degrees helped me meld an analytical mindset with a creative bent and set me on an exciting and different path than I ever expected. From 1999-2003 I worked for a company that tracked marketing online. Our clients were some of the biggest companies in the country and everyone was just figuring out the internet. It was exciting to see the innovation and try new things. I realized that though the work was intellectually stimulating and exciting, it didn’t create opportunity for connection to my local community. By this time I had moved back to Colorado to make it my adult home and wanted to feel that I was contributing to making the community better. I began volunteering at Women’s Bean Project. After about six months of volunteering at WBP, the position of CEO came open. I thought I knew the perfect candidate for the job: my friend Sarah. According to Sarah, I went on and on about what a great place the Bean Project is until finally she said, “If you think it’s so great, why don’t you do it?” I made the transition to becoming the CEO of the Bean Project in 2003. What I loved about the organization then; that there is a business and the better the business does, the more women can be served, I still love about it today. Only now I get to meet the women and witness their transformation. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For the sake of this scenario, my friend would be visiting in the summer. Days 1 and 2: We would of course visit the mountains, perhaps go camping or stay in a cabin in one of the many national parks. We’d likely do one of the 14’ers (an easy one, since my friend would be visiting from lower altitude). Day 3: We’d visit Beaver Creek, where I was married and I’d take my friend to Grouse Mountain Grill for a lovely dinner Day 4: After visiting Marczyk’s Market for picnic fixings, we’d go to a concert at the Botanic Gardens Day 5: We’d make two trips to Red Rocks; one for an early morning work out and the second for a concert Days 6 and 7: We’d go to Colorado Springs (where I grew up) and go hiking at Garden of the Gods and stay at the Broadmoor. We’d also make a visit to the Golden Bee for a yard of ale and some singing.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband is truly my biggest fan and most ardent supporter. A big shout out to him for keeping me honest and grounded.
Tamra Ryan headshot: Ron Moran photography Photographs of women: Frances Photography