WHAT'S THE STORY?
What happens when a big kid has kids? Well if you were a design guru for the likes of Puma, Diesel, and UGG and live in San Francisco, you launch a start-up for kids (of all ages) and name it PLAE. Ryan Ringholz has outfitted an entire generation, so when fatherhood entered the picture it made perfect sense for him to style the next generation as well. His goal? Design premium products that can handle all the things that kids dish out on a daily basis. PLAE shoes are made from eco-friendly, breathable, and washable materials that are engineered to be durable, flexible, and customizable to allow for the natural development of children's feet.
PLAE fuses design with technology to champion a fun, active and imaginative lifestyle for kids...of all ages. Go PLAE!
Ryan Ringholz : Founder and Chief Designer
Ryan is the kind of guy who operates from both sides of the brain—math came easily to him, as did art. Perhaps this explains his entry into entrepreneurship at the ripe old age of five, when he sold his drawings door-to-door for $1 each. Or perhaps, it was just a telltale sign of what was to come. Either way, it is this duality in thought that has always driven Ryan to think outside the box and blur the line— and he likes it that way. He's a rational risk-taker, a big-city outdoorsman, and a grass-stained designer dad.
A Detroit native, Ryan spent his summers baling hay on the family's dairy farm in the "U-P", repairing boats alongside his father on Lake St. Clair, and tinkering in his grandfather's woodshop. A lifelong Wolverine fan, it was no surprise he chose to attend the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) where he studied Engineering and Design. Resigning himself to the idea that artists starved, he pursued the latter. His instincts paid off in a career that soared beyond his expectations and placed a Detroit country boy in the midst of SoHo's chic flats, crossing continents for both work and play. When it came time for he and his wife, Tam, to settle-down and start a family, Ryan's aversion to settling for anything led him to create a new venture that would blur the lines between city & country, entrepreneur & artist, adventurer & father, work & PLAE. Ryan has amassed numerous accolades over the course of his career, but the highlights of his successes are the namesakes for his first collection: his children, Roan & Emme.
Jonathan Spier : CEO
Jonathan is just one of those people. He generally excels at anything he tries but he'll deny it all the way. You know, an undercover overachiever. Tell him 'no' and he'll find a way to 'YES.' And there are two things he does exceptionally well - inspiring and motivating people. His enthusiasm is so infectious you just can't help but jump onto his bandwagon. What pumps his adrenaline? Working with great people to grow companies – like the many successful tech start-ups he has led as Founder, CEO, Mentor, or Advisor.
PLAE came into the picture just as he was getting ready to launch his most important start up: his family. He and his wife, Brandy, are raising their young son Max on a healthy dose of classic rock and palak paneer. Jonathan's fired up to be leading a company where Max gets to dabble in his daddy's work as well as get first dibs on testing out products! An avid sports fan, Jonathan's dynamic energy outside of work is spent running a weekly pickup soccer game, hanging out with Max's school community, and traveling with his family whenever he can.
James Lin : Director of Sourcing [Asia]
We think this picture says it all. Cool and collected, James is a modest man who pursues life with a yin and yang attitude. Born and raised in Taiwan, he grew up imagining he would become an engineer but veered into the footwear industry and has since become a successful 20-year veteran working for some of the biggest global brands in the world. If asked, his inner Libra would say the key to his success lies in his tendency to seek balance at every turn, listening to all sides, and fusing his Eastern roots with his Western business acumen. Having spent over two decades in the fast lane, James was just about to hang up his sneakers when Ryan came knocking, and frankly, who can refuse when asked to come and PLAE? As a new father, he was attracted to the mission and philosophy of putting kids first and creating quality products for them. James's scale is now happily balanced between career and family, allowing time for his relentless pursuit of gastronomic adventures.
Caroline de Baere : VP, Footwear Merchandising & Operations
Caroline was destined to spend the past two decades in footwear. At the wee age of 4, while strolling the streets of Casablanca with her grandfather, she spotted a pair of ruby red patent leather shoes that she had to have. Yes, that Casablanca. The rest, as they say, is history. Quite the worldly tot, she spent her summers in Morocco and Paris but was actually born and raised in San Francisco. Caroline's parents wanted their children to grow up in the land of opportunity and she was told she could do anything she set her mind to. Jetsetting around the planet creating awesome products, Caroline had the chance to dip her feet in both the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds.
As a new mom to beautiful young twins, Caroline realized how challenging it was to make great shoes for children. Seasoned pro that she is, she was determined to make better products to elevate the shoe shopping experience for both parents and their children. The culmination of her vast experience came into PLAE, and Caroline's joie de vivre and cultured eye fit perfectly with PLAE's goal of creating shoes that spring to life. There's nothing she loves more than the magic of presenting new collections and hang time with her kids. Suffice it to say, they are the most stylish twins to trot the globe, having acquired a taste for mommy's favorite pastime!
Trinh T. Banh : Director of Communications & Events
As a kid growing up in the Bay Area, Trinh had visions of reaching for the stars, but not necessarily the kind she ended up working with in Hollywood as a television producer. Her Neil Armstrong dreams dashed, she went on to build a career in the entertainment industry until the redwoods of her youth and her mother's home-cooking lured her back. Hoping to return to the simpler things in life by 'slowing down' she somehow landed at a start-up. Go figure. You'll find her beaming like a five-year old in a candy store when her bags are packed and she's in need of an interpreter. She once climbed the highest peak in Borneo on a whim and, needless to say, she learned that 'spontaneity' has its limits. Not one to let a massive failure get the best of her, she has spun the story into an epic 'grand and glorious adventure'. Trinh has since discovered bliss in the purest pleasures, like having staring contests with her nephews and feels right at home with a company that indulges her PLAEful nature.
Dr. Mark Weiss : Special Advisor
Our resident expert's list of accolades and awards is so long, we frankly have no idea where to begin! For over four decades, Dr. Mark practiced podiatry in and around Beverly Hills treating patients ages three months to 103 years from every walk of life. It was inevitable, based in the entertainment capital of the world, that Dr. Mark's clientele would include a few legends, one of his favorites being none other than the iconic Ella Fitzgerald. Working in a city that thrives on dancing and prancing, it was no wonder so many ended up staggering straight into his office before, during, and after performances. His orthotics even landed in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Showbiz talk aside, the most gratifying part of his job was being able to see a patient limp in slowly…and stroll out in ease. He has seen every kind of emergency and crisis come up over the course of his career and treated every possible type of predicament. But the one thing he never saw coming was having triplets in the midst of raising two teenagers. Yup, that's right. Newborn triplets and teenagers under the same roof. Imagine that! Luckily, his years of training for the twists and turns of life came in handy. Naturally, his family has been his pride and joy, but the most rewarding part of his life has come from mentoring and nurturing young doctors who've gone on to be the best in their field. It was a no-brainer that we asked him to come PLAE with us!