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Dad. Father. Papa. Pops. Whatever you call your father, he’s had an impact on your life. For some of us, the effect has shaped our lives and set the tone for how we live as adults and parents. At Ellicott, we believe being a gentleman is more than just dressing the part, it’s living life deliberately with your actions, words, and your attitude. We asked our owners and store manager to reflect on how their fathers shaped their lives and guided them toward intentional living.

Young Ryan Martin spraying his dad with a water hose

Ryan Martin

Co-Founder of Ellicott. Father of 2 children.

Ryan Martin’s enthusiasm and ability to engage anyone in a meaningful conversation ties back to lessons he learned from his father. As an adult he discovered his intentionality and passion for new ideas comes from his dad. Ryan has childhood memories of spending hours working with his dad on projects while sharing significant conversations which has led to a lifelong friendship with his dad.

As a visionary entrepreneur, Ryan has a passion to delight and surprise customers and friends alike. This skill set he learned from seeing his father regularly amaze people with his creativity and always exceeding their expectations in some fashion.

He looks to his dad as the reason why he knows manliness isn’t defined by how macho a man is, but by a blend of conviction and sensitivity to the people and world around you. Ryan aims to teach his son how to succeed without losing his curiosity, creativity, and kindheartedness.

“I want my son to feel confident not to have to fit a mold that may have been placed upon him. I want him to be comfortable in his own skin, and live with boldness and conviction.”

Young Ryan Smoker with his family on sleds

Ryan Smoker

Co-Founder of Ellicott. Father of 3 children.

For Ryan Smoker, his steadiness and talent to bring order to any situation are only matched by his ability to see the world in a detailed manner. He credits his blend of creativity and technique to his parents, but in large part to his father who spent his career as a draftsman. Watching his dad work on intricate drawings helped shaped Ryan’s capacity as a designer to solve problems with an engineering mind.

Ryan also reminisces about his father’s encouragement of his passions and letting him follow the path of an artist instead of pursuing traditional trades like the rest of his family. He watched his dad lead with quiet strength and humility, showing him that family matters above all else.

Today, as a creative entrepreneur, part of Ryan’s inspiration for Ellicott and intentional living harkens back to his father’s quest for simplicity and consistency, instead of the fleeting satisfaction of seeing your name in lights.

“I want my son to know that you don't have to be a loud personality to be strong—you can have a big heart for your family, serve others, and lead with quiet confidence. It's a balance of strength and humility.”

Young Nat skipping rocks with his dad and family

Nat Leibee

General Manager at Ellicott

When you meet Nat, his calm demeanor instantly relaxes you and his warm smile offers you a glimpse into his friendliness. Growing up he saw his dad model calmness and an aptitude to take everything in stride—which left an impression on him to this day. For Nat, his father showed him how hard work pays off and that nothing comes easy. Not only did his father make time for Nat and his ten siblings, but his dad was also a business owner and a pastor, so rolling up his sleeves and working didn’t scare him. It helped him to teach Nat the importance of living well and making time for the people who matter most.

Looking back, Nat credits his father’s calm temperament and his knack to react slowly to his own personal ability think first and react second—even in the midst of stressful situations as an adult.

Nat also learned the value of taking care of women and people around him, which is a lesson he keeps with him every day. He watched his dad graciously take care of his mom, always willing to jump in and resolve a problem. Nat now recognizes that taking care of his own wife, is due in a large part to observing his dad treat his mom with kindness on a regular basis.

“My dad always took time to shoot hoops or go fishing with us. I always appreciated that as a kid, even though he was super busy. If he had 20 minutes, he would ask, 'Hey, let's go and shoot baskets or something.' It was always cool to see the fun side of my dad.”

We believe in the pursuit of passing on the things that matter most—a lesson from a father to a child, a cherished heirloom, or the importance of living with intentionality. For us, deliberate choices inspire everything we do at Ellicott. We hope it inspires you as well.

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Fathers that Shaped Us