We can’t brag enough about our biggest competitive advantage: Our people. They’re some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people on the planet – and we’re not exaggerating. In fact, if you knew even half the things our employees are up to in their spare time, it would blow your mind.
The Secret Life of RV reveals some of the coolest things our employees are doing outside of work. (Read: THIS is where we blow your mind.)
Secret Life: Ryan Pape
Red Ventures Director/Entrepreneur
Originally from Stamford, CT, Ryan graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2006 and received his MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business in 2012. Subsequently, he spent 3+ years in investment banking before joining Red Ventures in 2015. Most recently, he served as the General Manager of a Red Ventures’ partnership in the Financial Services vertical and has since transitioned to oversee a business in our banking marketplace.
Oh, he also happens to be an entrepreneur who’s working around the clock (outside of work) to empower others and help break the stigma surrounding mental illness in teenagers across the country.
In 2017 Ryan raised more than $17,000 to launch Forging Soul Cap Co, where he designs and manufactures premium quality, scripture-inspired caps for men and women. Since then, he’s served as the business’s founder, CEO, CFO, CMO, designer, video producer, social media strategist – he’s a one-man show (if you haven’t caught that already).
Q: First things first: What does “Forging Soul” mean?
A: Traditionally, the word ‘forge’ has two meanings: the first being ‘to continue to move ahead’ and the second being ‘the process of shaping metal in fire.’ In the context of my business message, Forging Soul has a similar double meaning: (1) to continue to forge ahead in life, despite any obstacles that might come your way, and (2) to remember that life’s obstacles are forging you into the strongest version of yourself.
Q: That’s a fantastic message. How does your business connect with both meanings?
A: “This is all inspired by my late brother. He survived cancer and was an advocate for mental health, but was tragically shot and killed in March 2016. I was looking for a way to turn his story into something meaningful that could potentially help or inspire others, and give back to a cause he was passionate about.
Q: So, you became an advocate for mental health, too?
A: Exactly.. I chose to rally around mental health awareness because it was an issue important to my brother. Regardless of the obstacles he was facing, he lived with a faithful, fearless attitude.
Q: Faithful, fearless, and forging ahead. That’s awesome. Where do caps come into the mix?
A: The concept is essentially:‘scripture-inspired caps with a cause.’, We have all kinds of colors and designs available, but the simplicity of the cap leaves the meaning and message open to interpretation. The product is very unobtrusive. You have the ‘Forge On’ logo on the strap, so you have the option to tell the story of how the company was founded, describe what the design means to you, or say nothing at all..
Q: Nice! So that’s the “scripture-inspired caps” part. How about “with a cause?”
A: That’s the best part. For the first half of 2018, 10% of Forging Soul Cap Co.’s sales will go to Erika’s Lighthouse, an organization dedicated to educating and raising mental health awareness within high schools across the country. We also hope that the caps can help jump-start conversations about mental health among U.S. teens. As those kids grow up, I hope we’ll see a shift in that whole generation’s mentality..
Q: What kind of shift would you like to see?
A: I work at Red Ventures, so you know I’m gonna throw some numbers at you: 20% of teens between the ages of 13 and 19 are currently living with some kind of mental health condition. Studies show that individuals who receive treatment during their teenage years have a much higher likelihood of preventing more severe, lasting issues. However, the stigma associated with mental illness — and the lack of dialogue surrounding it in our society — often discourages people from receiving the help they need. We need to get people talking about mental health, and we need to make sure that our collective dialogue is more open and understanding.
Q: One more time for the people in the back!
A: Haha, exactly! We want to get everyone on board.
Q: It sounds like you’re doing some really important work – and a lot of it. How do you balance running a business AND working full-time at RV?
A: I’ve certainly had to learn a lot along the way. But owning this business has been like a real-time, constant connection to my brother, so in that sense, it really doesn’t feel like work. The people at Red Ventures who know about what I’m doing are incredibly supportive and are touched by the cause, which also means a lot and is really motivating.
Q: How long have you been working on all of this?
A: I had the idea for Forging Soul Cap Co. in June of 2017, and having been on a budget, I had to teach myself a lot of the skills needed to launch a small business. In December of that year, I organized a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds. I placed my first order in January of 2018, and we officially launched in February.
Q: Now that sounds like an RV timeline! Where can we check out your caps?
A: You can purchase a cap at forgingsoulco.com! (And you can learn more about the business while you’re there). Here’s what they look like:
Q: Perfect! One last question: What does the Forging Soul logo mean to you?
A: Great question. It features a lion and anvil which is a tool used to strike iron out of a fire).To me, the lion symbolizes the strength to forge onward, and the anvil symbolizes us, being “forged” by our obstacles.