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Interview with a Shopify Store Owner: Michael Ryan


Michael Ryan has a keen understanding on how eCommerce has broken down barriers in the retail world. With his company, GuitarGrip, powered by Shopify, he's been able to take a simple, marketable product and do exactly what he loves: interact directly with his customers.
Michael Ryan, Owner of Guitar Grip

by Andrew Rosensweig

May 24, 2018

Michael Ryan, owner of GuitarGrip, is a testament to how one of those off-hand ideas over the dinner table can be the start of a brand new business opportunity. His company offers a fun and unique take on guitar hangers. Michael took the time to share some words on his experience in online retail and how accessible it is with the right initiative.

GuitarGrip Classic Brass Antique Hand Guitar Hanger

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The idea to create the "hand shaped" guitar hanger came up during a family discussion. I could not tell you the topic of conversation at the time or who in our family actually came up with the idea, although I like to take credit for it.

Growing up, my family was very DIY and project oriented. My parents were entrepreneurs who started multiple businesses from scratch so concepts, new ideas, and better ways of doing things were normal discussions around the dinner table. In addition, my mother is a painter, my dad a drummer, and I've been playing guitar since I was a kid; music and art have always been a common thread in our family.

So yeah, roughly ten years ago we were sitting around a table and apparently the concept of a hand shaped guitar hanger was brought up and discussed. It wasn't until another year or so that I brought it up again to my folks and said "Hey remember that idea we had about a hand shaped guitar hanger? Let's give it a shot." We started working on a prototype shortly after.  

If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?

If you really believe in your idea then go for it, but start small. Obviously, you need a bit of capital and a great team to get things rolling, however, you don't need a half million dollar investment to test the marketplace or to get your feet wet. Our products started a bit more archaic than we would have liked, but as our sales grew, our product evolved. I think baby steps is the key. Overnight successes exists on the surface, but if you dig deep into those stories there's a lot more to tell. Also, make sure you have the right team of people, no matter how small that team is. It's the people that make it happen, money helps, but the right people can make anything a success.

GuitarGrip Toxic Zombie Hand Guitar Hanger

What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment as an eCommerce store owner?

That I love dealing directly with the consumer and nowadays the consumer loves dealing directly with us! You don't need distributors and dealers anymore to get your products in the hands of the consumer. The landscape of brick and mortar has and is changing right before our eyes. Once upon a time a manufacturer of a product had to go through one or more "middlemen" to get their products to the end user. These "middlemen" are mostly concerned about the margins and bottom line, it's about the money. However with the "end user" it's about the product. With eCommerce we get the instant gratification of communicating directly with our customers. We get to see and hear first hand their interaction and experience with our offering.

What's your favorite 'productivity hack' that you use in your day to day life?

Open as many windows as you can in your browser.

What Shopify app could you not live without?

Product Reviews

What book would you recommend to someone looking to grow their business?

The Tipping Point

 Do you have any other advice you would like to share?

Stay the course and give it your all. If you don't, there is a good chance you won't succeed and it won't be anyone else's fault but your own.

Visit GuitarGrip on Facebook and you can follow on Twitter @GuitarGrip2007 Instagram @GuitarGrip or Pinterest.