Jaylin Ramer: Bringing Western Boots to the City

Jaylin Ramer of Planet Cowboy
Photo by Steven Visneau, courtesy Jaylin Ramer

New York City? Well, the famous salsa commercials didn’t lie. There aren’t a lot of cowboys in New York City, New York. That didn’t stop an entrepreneurial risk taker with a cowgirl soul from starting a successful boot company in SoHo, New York City.

Jaylin Ramer grew up in New Jersey where her neighbors had horses, but she spent summers in the rural south, soaking up the country girl lifestyle. Enjoying fresh air, running free, and riding horses gave young Ramer her creative outlet and lit a fire in her for the western lifestyle. Throughout her life, the cowgirl spirit and love of everything horses resonated deeply with Ramer, but that calling stayed buried beneath the surface as she embarked on her a career in the city.

“I just loved everything that cowgirl life represented,” Ramer recalls. “I felt joy and freedom when I escaped to the country. I was inspired, but I didn’t yet know how that would impact my future.”

To this day, Ramer remembers when she got her own first pair of cowboy boots. Previously, Jaylin had only borrowed boots for occasional horseback riding, but she kept asking for her own pair. Her mother repeatedly told Ramer she could get boots when her feet stopped growing. When she was 12, the pivotal day arrived, and they made the purchase.

“They were red,” she recalls. “And they were amazing,”

In the late 1990s, while Ramer was hustling in corporate real estate and chasing a music career, she happened upon a western store called Buffalo Chips, where a hairdresser named Paul sold cowboy boots as his side business. His podiatrist had recommended cowboy boots to help with his foot fatigue. With a steel shank and walking heel, the boots acted as a natural orthotic. Ramer, on her feet showing real estate, went back to wearing boots and became known as the “cowgirl real estate broker.” The boots helped her feet, but they also helped build her unique brand.

Even though real estate served as her day job, she was drawn to the store’s western vibe. When Buffalo Chips closed, Ramer missed the store and thought there was a space for boots in New York City. Seven years later, Paul asked her to find a space to sell boots again. With her cowgirl soul awakened and her entrepreneurial spirit alert, she saw the opportunity to launch a temporary cowboy boot pop-up called Space Cowboy Boots.

Shop owner with cowboy boots at store entrance
Jaylin Ramer got her start in the boot business with a small shop located in the heart of New York City. Photo courtesy Jaylin Ramer

New York City shoppers were instantly attracted to the unique footwear, the craftsmanship, the stitching and colors, and the mystique of the West. Ramer thought there was enough interest to warrant a brick-and-mortar boot store, so she, Paul, and a few friends founded the Space Cowboy Boots store in 2011, right in SoHo, New York City. The space brought a western vibe to previously conservative outfits and awakened a free spirit that many New York City dwellers had living deep inside them.

Standing out from the neighboring businesses, Space Cowboy Boots offered a unique destination for anyone seeking cowboy kitsch or the freedom-inspiring western lifestyle with a rock-n-roll vibe. Numerous celebrities bought boots in the store, and many passersby were lured in, too, after catching a glimpse of the unique window displays featuring artistic boot designs from various makers, including store exclusives. The store’s hip vibe attracted shoppers seeking to hang out with like-minded people. Strong ties developed between Space Cowboy Boots patrons who bonded over their love for great boots, silver buckles, and cowboy hats in the heart of the city. Ramer and Paul remained business partners until 2018, building boots and fostering friendships.

“Absolute gem of a place,” and “surprising find, but a must-stop destination,” are just two online reviews that have drawn world travelers into the Space Cowboy Boots store. Ramer’s success is fueled by her skill entertaining and educating patrons, forecasting trends that pair cowboy with fashion, and developing customers’ personal style. Known for incorporating boots, hats, silver buckles, and creative graphic tees with intergalactic pinup girls into an edgy look became synonymous with Space Cowboy. Designing and sourcing quality boots with unique stitching and colors—along with creative graphic tee shirts, high-end buckles and hats, and other western style staples—gave Ramer’s vision universal appeal to locals and visitors alike.

In 2013, Jaylin decided to develop her own vision, a line of boots called Planet Cowboy. The unique designs were a huge hit that led the entrepreneurial cowgirl to combine the overall brand under the trademarked Planet Cowboy name. Poised for the future, that success enabled Ramer’s vision to include expansion in 2019.

Jaylin Ramer of Planet Cowboy Boots
Jaylin Ramer developed her own vision of cowgirl style with a line of boots called Planet Cowboy. Photo courtesy Jaylin Ramer

Ramer wanted to get out of New York for her next venture, but she wasn’t sure quite where she wanted to go. After visiting Austin, Houston, and other cities in Texas, Ramer found herself in Nashville’s trendy 12 South neighborhood. Tourists were primed to embrace their western side, and the city’s rocking music scene and a hip feel gave Ramer confidence. In June 2020, when she noticed a ‘For Rent’ sign in a vacant storefront, she spontaneously explored the space.

On that same day, Ramer got the terrible news that her New York store had succumbed to looters. Ramer rushed back to the city to take inventory of the damage, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that Nashville beckoned.

“I slept on it, but I knew in my heart it was time to get out of the city where I had lived for so many years,” Ramer explains. “It was time to take a leap of faith.”

She talked to her landlord, and he agreed to terminate her lease before term. Space Cowboy Boots NYC was closed, Paul retired from the business, and Raymer headed south.

After securing the Nashville location, she vacated New York City in two weeks—with hundreds of boots in tow.

Full of cowgirl grit, Ramer set to opening a new boot and western store during a global pandemic, with travel restrictions, mask mandates, forced business closures, and consumer fear. She transported 1,800 boots—including vintage “dead stock” from another store that had closed its doors—to Nashville, moved into an Airbnb, and started her new life. After a full remodel of her brick and mortar location, in October 2020, Planet Cowboy Nashville opened for business, unifying the brand, designs, e-commerce store, and new physical store location under the same brand name.

Jaylin Ramer and her boots
Jaylin Ramer moved her business to Nashville in 2020, where she has embraced her musical roots. Photo by Steven Visneau, courtesy Jaylin Ramer

Through the transition, Ramer’s expertise and educational customer service, along with the store’s welcoming atmosphere, fostered consistent success. Over the years, Ramer has developed relationships with stylists in New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, and Nashville, and numerous celebrities have worn her designs.

Ramer finds inspiration in prominent colorful fashion from the 1970s and -80s. As one of the first to re-introduce the white cowboy boot, she predicted the resurgence of this trend in both mainstream and western fashion spaces. She also designs with bright colors not often seen in footwear, such as her psychedelic collection’s bright yellow boot with rainbow stitching. Ramer believes people want to wear “happy boots.” Customers just need to spend some time at Planet Cowboy to find their style and learn how to express it with leather and stitching.

Vibrant western boots
Ramer loves using bright colors not often seen in footwear, especially in the Western wear world. Photo by Steven Visneau, courtesy Jaylin Ramer

Ramer’s boot designs are manufactured by artisans in Mexico and Texas who never compromise on leather quality or fit. The artisans use lasts—wooden forms used to shape handmade boots—to create a comfortable boot made in an old-world style that stands the test of time.

As a driven entrepreneur and boot enthusiast, Ramer seeks to educate consumers on the differences between mass produced footwear and a traditional handmade cowboy boot. High-end leathers set apart truly excellent boots, but that quality comes at a price, due to the labor-intensive process and cost of materials. That’s why customers appreciate the craftsmanship and quality showcased in Ramer’s handmade boots. Planet Cowboy boot styles appeal to those that want to stand out with an heirloom piece of wearable art.

Western boot fitting
Ramer finds inspiration in prominent colorful fashion from the 1970s and -80s. Photo by Steven Visneau, courtesy Jaylin Ramer

Several exclusive designs make Ramer’s conversation-starting boots available to customers in store or online. Planet Cowboy also offers made-to-order custom boots crafted in the old-school style by measuring customers’ feet using a special tool adapted over hundreds of years. Clients can create their own personal masterpiece by choosing leathers, stitch patterns, inlay designs, and more. According to Ramer, boots of this caliber allow the wearer to build outfits that showcase their independence and express a style all their own, so they can build a lifetime of memories in a comfortable boot.

“Boots are an artistic expression of cowgirl spirit,” Ramer says. “They make you walk differently—physically and mentally.”

Jaylin Ramer
Boots are an artistic expression of cowgirl spirit. Photo by Steven Visneau, courtesy Jaylin Ramer

She often remembers how empowered and free her first pair of red boots made her feel. Boots launched her brand and led her down a successful entrepreneurial path, too. By providing the perfect wearable, confidence-boosting boots to others, she inspires people to express their own cowgirl grit.

“Nashville was a risk, especially during a pandemic where people couldn’t even shop in-store,” Ramer recalls. “But the timing was right, and the location was perfect. I love Nashville and the city has been great for Planet Cowboy’s next chapter.”

This article about Jaylin Ramer and Planet Cowboy appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of Western Life Today magazine. Click here to subscribe!

Robyn Volkening

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