Search & Replace Episode S01E05: Samie & Ryan Roberts

Samie and Ryan Roberts faced a big decision when they were working in New York City — she was in corporate public relations, he was in corporate sales. And they started feeling the itch to take a little more control over their careers. And like most couples, that realization didn’t hit them at the exact same time.

More about today’s guest:

Explore these related stories:

  •       We first met the Bustld team on a 2018 episode of The Build.
  • Watch out for lumpy money!
  • Making the leap to entrepreneurship.
  • Before you take that entrepreneurial leap…


Announcer: [00:00:00] Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 

Joe Taylor: [00:00:10] What would you choose? A predictable but so, so job or the chance to bet everything on yourself? I'm Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace

It's every entrepreneur's biggest gamble- work for someone else, cash in on a seemingly steady paycheck and then bank your savings in a stable retirement plan. Or put everything you've got on the line and create the kind of company you'd really want to work for Samie and Ryan Roberts faced that decision when they were working in New York City. She was in corporate public relations. He was in corporate sales and they started feeling the itch to take a little more control over their careers. And like most couples that realization didn't hit them at the exact same time. 

Samie Roberts: [00:00:57] For me, it was probably more gradual.

Ryan's more of a dive in type guy, but I had worked for the same company for six years. And what I really loved about my job at the time was events. And so the dive in guy, Ryan, really helped to push me to start my company, which then he followed suit with not too long later. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:01:21] I had always had that entrepreneurial bug since I was a kid.

I was always the one that was doing the lawn and empires, lemonade stands, flipping video games, baseball cards. All that sort of stuff. My grandmother was a huge influence on that. She had started a company late in life and watching her do that- and the work plus obviously the success that follows- that just always stuck with me.

I think at one point when we were living in New York, I was trying to figure out how to sell guacamole and Soho. You can get a spot in this little lot, that's in a Broom Street and then you can, usually people are just selling just different crafts and things like that. So it's like, okay, I can do that.

Then fast forward and then Sami starts her company and we started a segue to launch Bustld. 

Samie Roberts: [00:02:02] We own lots of books on random careers and companies to start. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:02:08] I looked at the import export. I looked into food, obviously.  Yeah.

Samie Roberts: [00:02:13] Yeah. We have quite a few of those books sitting around on bookshelves. 

Joe Taylor: [00:02:17] Sami launched that wedding planning company and Ryan joined her in what would become Bustld- that's B U S T L D- a comprehensive wedding resource that, in their words, reduces the chaos for each happy couple.

The company grew from Sami and Ryan's past experiences and their core skills. 

Samie Roberts: [00:02:35] I was a fashion retail major in college, and I knew that I wanted to move to New York and work as a part of fashion shows. This is what I thought as a college student, right. And I got this career working at this PR company and most days was calling magazines, trying to get my clients featured. But when I had an event that we were planning for our clients, it was like a different passion. And Ryan was like, why is this not? I mean, honestly, he really did push me. He was like, why? This is when you're happy. When you come home, when you get to the office at four in the morning for an event and get home at midnight you're, like, wound up and excited. But, you know, a regular day you're kind of like, eh that's all right.

So that really just pushed me to think about, okay, this is something I could do. And I was around the age where all my friends were getting married, we were getting married. So it pushed me into that world. And I just loved that kind of personal connection. Like, you have to be really passionate about the wedding world and about helping people on this once in a lifetime kind of a celebration that is so important and happened so quickly. I just had a lot more. I don't know, excitement to it than doing these big, huge corporate events where the budgets were crazy, but they were like, okay. It's just, Nope. It's just another corporate event. We'll just throw the money at our next kind of thing.

I just loved that kind of excitement you had with working with a couple. 

Joe Taylor: [00:03:54] Let's keep in mind that you have to have a certain tolerance for risk if you're going to launch a company at any point in your career. Sami and Ryan may have had an even higher ceiling for that risk and an even stronger motivation to make their plans succeed on schedule.

Samie Roberts: [00:04:08] I started my planning company while Ryan was still working in his corporate job. So it was a little less scary because he still had that steady income and health insurance and all of those things. But Ryan, when we decided to go full time with Bustld we were.. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:04:24] We were for or five months pregnant...

Samie Roberts: [00:04:25] Yeah- four or five months pregnant, and we were looking at expanding our family and decided to give up that cushion, which was a little bit scary. I think that for us as a couple, we prioritized that we were going to build this thing and that was going to be where we put our money and our savings into.

And I think that is what an entrepreneur does. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:04:45] Yeah. I'd rather invest in us than Apple stock. No offense to Apple. 

Joe Taylor: [00:04:51] The wedding industry was not in a good place by the middle of 2020. However, Sami and Ryan's flexible approach to their work left them in a stronger position than they might have been if they kept their old day jobs.

And with the ability to pivot to coordinating virtual weddings, a much more stable place than many of their competitors. 

Samie Roberts: [00:05:10] I think even just like in the time we're in now, the fact that there's this pandemic going around that has completely transformed the wedding industry. And that we've been able to create a product that can help people to get married virtually, and that we can have an impact.

I mean, when this all started, we created a nonprofit. I think just for being able to give back and make an impact in the wedding industry that is lasting. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:05:38] When you look at weddings were 150, 200 people and now they're in North Carolina you can only have 25 people outside, including your vendors and people inside. To figure out how to instill, capture the energy of an event and a wedding and get through all this. 

Samie Roberts: [00:05:52] Yeah. And support the wedding industry as a whole. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:05:54] Yeah. 

Joe Taylor: [00:05:55] Most of all, Sami and Ryan excited about what they've built and where they're headed. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:05:59] We've built an amazing product, an amazing company that people want to work at. The culture is good. Obviously the financial rewards as well, of course, but that's almost secondary.

We built something unique that came out of our heads. I do say that all the time, actually, just came out of our heads- like, that's crazy. 

Samie Roberts: [00:06:15] We're deciding our future and our path and all of that stuff, which is scary but also exciting. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:06:22] Yeah. I would also layer on top that for me, once this becomes its own corporation, of sorts, and it's not -we're still building it and solving this problem- that's when I'll be bored and I'll be ready to move on to the next one. 

Samie Roberts: [00:06:34] And I'll probably love it. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:06:35] Yeah- you'll probably love it. That's true. 

Samie Roberts: [00:06:36] It makes us a good balance. 

Ryan Roberts: [00:06:38] I'll finally do that import/export thing.

Samie Roberts: [00:06:42] Yeah, exactly.

Joe Taylor: [00:06:44] Sami and Ryan Roberts of Bustled. You can learn more about them on our website at Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with support from Christine Benton, Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith, and executive producer, Lori Taylor.

Our theme music was composed by Alex DuFire. I'm Joe Taylor, Jr. 

Announcer: [00:07:05] This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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