Draw a Venn diagram of affordability, fashion, and functionality, and goodr sunglasses would sit dead center.
The Inglewood, California-based brand has been on a rapid upward trajectory since it was founded in 2015 as a running sunglasses brand.
Now its colorful polarized sunglasses are sold in over 5,000 doors worldwide and the company employs about 130 people. It’s still self-funded and privately held.
“It feels like a rocket ship,” said co-founder and CEO Stephen Lease. “We’re going to grow between 30%-40% this year from last year.”
The Daily spoke with Lease about the brand’s pricing structure, marketing absurdity, and retail strategy.
Goodr Pricing Strategy
When The Daily earlier this year visited Denver outdoor specialty retailer Feral, which carries goodr, owner Jimmy Funkhouser said he hadn’t seen a brand with as much “sustained, insane demand” in its first three years. He highlighted goodr’s $25-$35 price as one of the key selling points.
In addition, a Public Lands manager last year described goodr as “an incredible brand for us.”
“They’re a fun little company,” said Amber Rollo, general manager of the Pittsburgh store. “They are so light, they are great for runners, and they are great for style.”
Price, looks, and functionality were all important from the start, Lease said.
“From the beginning we realized that running sunglasses and all active lifestyle sunglasses are ugly, expensive, and over-engineered,” Lease said. “Our goal from the beginning was to make them fashionable, affordable, and performance without the extra bulls—.”
But selling at that lower price point means quantity is important.
“We have to move the volume,” Lease said. “We look at margin constantly, how we spend our money, to make sure we can always bring our product to the market as affordably as possible.”
Customers also like the lower price point because they don’t feel as bad if they scratch, break, or lose their goodr sunglasses compared to a much pricier pair. Goodr customers are also more likely to buy an additional pair in a louder color or more fun style.
“For $25, we’re giving them the permission to have some fun,” Lease said. “If you’re buying a pair of $200 sunglasses, you can’t be buying the brightest, loudest ones that you’re not going to wear as much.”
Goodr’s average order value is over $50, which means a lot of double purchases. People often buy a conservative pair and a fun pair.
Goodr snow goggles retail for $75, and the company is launching a prescription sunglasses program soon, which will be more expensive, but Lease has been fighting to keep product price points down.
Goodr sunglasses are sold in more than 3,000 doors across the U.S., and 14% of that is outdoor specialty retail, up slightly from last year. Overall, 22% of goodr’s sales come in the outdoor category.
“We really want like-minded active partners. We want a retailer to be an outdoor shop,” Lease said. That can be a running specialty store or an outdoor store that sells hiking and fishing gear in the summer and ski products in the winter.
He sees room to grow in the outdoor specialty space.
“I think we can get that (14%) to go up,” Lease said. “We’re really having a big push in the next two years to increase our in-store experience.”
Leaning Into the Absurd
Beyond that sport and active piece, goodr is also looking for partners who can fit with the company’s aesthetic. The frames’ colors are bright, and include a lot of pink and teal. The sunglasses come with carrying cases in flamingo prints.
“We gravitate toward retailers and do some fun stuff with the stores that lean into the absurdity of our brand,” Lease said. “And our brand is pretty absurd.”
For example, goodr holds competitions to see which store creates the most unique display of its sunglasses, and then will sponsor an in-store event for the winner. One retailer made a replica of a goodr shipping box was that was about 10-feet long.
In 2017, a couple years after the brand was founded, goodr came to a crossroads. The people at the top needed to decide if it would become a brand that did many things, like socks and water bottles and hats, or narrow its focus.
“We realized we’re just really good at eyewear, so we pivoted to be just an eyewear brand,” Lease said.
Over the years, the brand rolled out designated lines including running and mountain biking, and put out a snow goggle last year.
“Today we actually consider ourselves an active eyewear brand,” Lease said. “It could be hiking. It could be baseball. It could be kayaking.”
Weathering the Storm
After the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns when the business wasn’t generating any sales, goodr came out the other side and has been doing well ever since.
There were several factors that contributed to goodr’s success during that challenging time, according to Lease.
“We were a fun, vibrant brand, and the world could use a smile on its face,” he said. “We’re a $25-$35 price point, so even during these times it’s a very affordable thing.”
Even when stores weren’t open, goodr was selling direct-to-consumer. Lease said its current overall business is about 60% DTC and 40% wholesale. The company owns one store of its own called the Cabana in Venice.
Keeping Ahead of the Knockoffs
In early 2018, goodr saw a competitor that was trying to ape its style and price point. Lease saw it as a gift.
“They made us realize there’s not a lot of patents in the eyewear industry,” he said. “It made us realize we can’t get complacent. We can’t rest on our laurels. We have to constantly be creating energy, doing fun things.”
The next month goodr launched its second product, BFG, which gained notice in Men’s Health and Runner’s World magazines.
That also sparked part of the company’s strategy to launch limited editions every year and constantly add new models.
“We realize there is other competition out there,” Lease said. “But we just try and be the best versions of ourselves, understanding we can’t be complacent.”
Bart Schaneman can be reached at email@example.com.