INTERVIEW: From unemployed to being the boss

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The economy has taken many people who were once in stable jobs and put them out of work. But some of these unemployed have turned their joblessness into opportunity. One example is John Ryland the owner of Classified Moto here in Richmond.

John joins us live via Skype from his workshop.

Ryan Nobles: Your story was featured on CNN. You've gotten a lot of publicity as a result of that. You were once in the advertising business, very successful. But then tell us what happened.

John Ryland: I was working at the Martin Agency downtown. I think they had a changing of the guard. I had been there 11 years, which is probably a long time for anybody who is in advertising. But in the meantime, I had been working on motorcycles and really taking an interest in it, and started the website, and that thing just took off, like, around the world really. So it was kind of actually fortunate, I guess, when I got laid off that I had that in place.

Ryan Nobles: Did you ever think -- you said you were doing it on the side kind of as a fun hobby. When you lost your job at the Martin Agency, did you ever think it could become a full-time gig that could take you all around the world and introduce you to so many interesting people and pay the bills at the same time?

John Ryland: No, I didn't really. It happened so fast, and I was in a good position when I got laid off to make something happen with it, but now it seems now I'm talking to investors about starting to open a real shop with the coffee shop and custom bikes and things like that, so I think it's just really an exciting time right now, and I'm not even worried about the fact that I got laid off. Still a lot of things to be done to make it viable, but right now it's going really well and we're selling all of these motorcycle lamps that we made. They were on CNN, too.

Ryan Nobles: We're showing them right now. Talk a little bit about what it is that you do, because part of the reason you've been successful is that you offer a pretty unique product. This isn't just your average motorcycle.

John Ryland: Right. I'm taking these old bikes, kind of think of them as ugly duckling bikes, not popular, weren't collectible. I'm just taking pretty much anything you can find on craigslist, and I'll look at it and come up with a vision for any little thing you can find. It's kind of straight out of a John Hughes movie; ugly ducklings that just bloom. It's kind of cool. I take them down to a show and a lot of people gather around them, and it's great.

Ryan Nobles: John, your story is an inspiration to many that might be watching that are unemployed to follow their dreams. We'll put information about you on twitter. Good luck with the rest of this business.

John Ryland: Thank you.

See the video at right for the full interview.

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