Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ryan Smith, Co-Founder of Sullen Clothing, located in Garden Grove, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a tattoo lifestyle apparel brand. Our customers are mainly fans of tattoos and tattoo art.

Tell us about yourself

I started tattooing at 19 but studied illustration at the Art Center College of Design. I grew up in Orange County, so surf brands and culture were a heavy influence on me. I started Sullen in my senior year of college with one of my best friends growing up. We grew the brand from nothing to become one of the most recognized worldwide in tattooing. I'm driven every day to always find new ways to surprise and delight all the fans that have chosen to take this journey with us. I love progress and finding new ways to tell stories and bring new things to our Sullen family.

Do you have daily rituals for work / wellness / fitness / mindfulness?

My daily rituals are morning up at 6 am, Meditate 6:30 am, Gym at 7 am, Working at 9 am, heading home around 5–6 pm, Meditating at 5:30, Dinner at 6, Sauna at 8:30–9:00 pm Magnesium, and L-Theanine try to be asleep between 10–11 pm.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think for sure it's being around after 22 years...apparel is like music; as soon as the hits stop coming, people forget about you. You have to earn your pay every season, or other brands will swoop in and take your customers.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Never turning it is 24/7, and ideas come at all hours, but when you love what you do, it's also not that bad. A blessing and a curse, I guess.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Find a niche you have experience in.
  2. Always do things for your customers.
  3. Don't get lazy or impatient, it took me 5 years to get my first paycheck, and that wasn't very much either.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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