Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephen Lease.
Hi Stephen, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I am the CEO (Chief Executive Octopus) and co-Founder of the sunglasses brand goodr and the co-host of the CULTURE goodr Podcast. My spirit animal is an octopus, I’m soul-bonded with a basset hound, and I’m 16% flamingo. I graduated from college in 2005 and started goodr in 2015 with two high school friends. In the ten years between college and launching our first SKU, I worked in corporate America at Easton Sports, had a ton of side hustles, and unsuccessfully launched five companies before ultimately finding success with goodr. Since 2015, goodr has grown to over 100 employees, is sold in over 5,000 doors worldwide, and has won numerous awards— including “Gear of the Year” by Runner’s World Magazine, “Gear of the Year” by Bicycling Magazine, and “Best Places to Work” by Inc. Magazine.
Goodr’s headquarters are in Inglewood, CA. I was born and raised in Denver and spent the first 25 years of my life there, but I’ve come to realize that LA is my home. Whenever I travel and people ask me where I’m from, my answer is LA! Denver is an amazing place—I won’t say a bad thing about it—and I still have my Denver Broncos season tickets, but SoCal is where I belong. I’ve been here for 12 years and don’t plan on leaving.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In under six years, we’ve taken goodr from inception to 100+ team members and won many awards. To outsiders, I’m very aware that this sounds like a fairytale—and in a lot of ways, it is—but we’ve had some real issues and real fuck-ups. Many think goodr was an overnight success, but it’s the sixth company that I’ve started. That means there were five black marks/failures/key learnings on my record from day one.
Initially, we were an apparel and sunglasses brand but pivoted because we sucked at apparel. We didn’t want to be just another lifestyle brand amidst a sea of lifestyle brands. My partner and I didn’t take a paycheck for over two years. During that time, I had two full-time jobs: running goodr and running my consulting practice. There were many sleepless nights. We couldn’t afford our own inventory for the first three years. We had a lot of demand and a limited quantity of products. Moreover, we had no official quality control process early on, which really caused some issues. We also dealt with competitors knocking us off and, although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s not ideal for a growing business attempting to capture market share.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
We started goodr because we think running and working out is fun, and your gear should be, too. At our core, we’re all about creating fun, fashionable, and functional sunglasses that everyone can afford. Basically, we’re recklessly committed to fun… blah, blah, blah, sunglasses.
When our brand originated, we were just a bunch of runners who saw a problem that needed to be solved. When we looked at the running sunglasses category, we found it was full of overpriced, ugly products. Our goal was to create the best pair of running sunglasses for under $30, and we did it! We started in “run” because, at the time, I was a hardcore marathoner. In 2017, we asked ourselves, “Are we a run company or an eyewear company?” We decided we were an eyewear brand, so we went into other verticals like CrossFit (Beast), Bike, Golf, and Game.
Every product we create must speak to our 4 Fs: fun, fashionable, functional, and ‘ffordable. Yes, ‘ffordable is a made up word but so is goodr. We launched our OG sunglasses with six colors and now have too many to count. We’ve since expanded our award-winning collection to include the BFGs (Big F*cking goodrs), Runways, Circle Gs, Mach Gs, and VRGs.
Usually though, what people want to talk most about is our absurd, irreverent marketing. Each glass is unique, authentic, and created with care. The process includes naming each glass, developing creative content, and creating a marketing campaign for each launch. Just check out our main Instagram page to see what I’m talking about. We also recently opened a storefront called the goodr Cabana in Venice, CA, which has given us a physical location to connect with our consumers directly.
But what I’m most proud of is our team and the culture we created at goodr. We launched The CULTURE goodr Podcast earlier this year to hopefully inspire others!
Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Check out goodr.com for more information on our products and to grab a pair for yourself.
Follow goodr’s main Instagram @goodr
Follow our various verticals on Instagram to engage with likeminded goodr fans: (@rungoodr, @bikegoodr, @golfgoodr, @beastgoodr, @gamegoodr)
Follow @culturegoodr to learn more about our unique company culture
Visit the goodr Cabana at 1348 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, CA
- Goodr OGs and Circle Gs retail for $25
- Goodr Runways, BFGs, Mach Gs, and VRGs retail for $35