A millennial CEO is behind Jeff Bezos' favorite sunglasses. Here's how he built his luxury eyewear brand.November 22, 2020
- Garrett Leight is the founder, CEO, and creative director of the luxury eyewear brand Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO).
- In the past decade, Leight and his team have made GLCO one of the top millennial brands in the luxury eyewear market, with high profile people from Jeff Bezos to Selena Gomez spotted wearing GLCO eyewear.
- Leight sat down with Business Insider for an interview about his career beginnings and his rise in the luxury market.
- He also gave advice to the next generation of entrepreneurs and those looking to enter the luxury sector.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Luxury eyewear designer Garrett Leight knows exactly what millennials want. In fact, with a celebrity clientele list that includes Jeff Bezos, Kendall Jenner, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Lawrence — Leight doesn't just know what millennials want, he knows what the world wants.
"We market …. who we are, what we stand for, [and] what we've been about since day one, which is California DNA and the quality product and great customer service," Leight told Business Insider. "We just kind of were ourselves and created what we thought was cool and people liked it."
In an interview with Business Insider about his career, Leight also gave some advice for others who aspire to enter the luxury retail field, and for entrepreneurs who have launched — or who are thinking about launching — their own business. Here are his five key tips.
1. Companies must "innovate or die."
In speaking about luxury retailer Barneys, Leight said one of the main reasons the store failed in the 2010s is because it didn't establish an "identity" that could connect with the younger generations.
"Today, millennials [and] Gen-Z, we want to connect with something. We want to know who we're supporting," he told Business Insider. "You gotta dedicate some effort both financially and creatively to creating something that buyers [and] consumers can connect with."
He also said that brands should pay attention to what happened to the once-famed retailer, noting that if they fail to adapt to the changing taste in the consumer market, they could easily be the next to fall.
2. Authenticity is key.
When speaking about how his brand uses social media for marketing, Leight and his brand's chief communications officer Jamie Katz emphasized that they rely on authenticity in order to connect with customers, future buyers, and most importantly, brand ambassadors.
"It's more about an organic alignment. If they feel like they are an extension of what we've tried to create as the Garrett Leight lifestyle, then we feel like they're probably in a community of people that would also appreciate the Garrett Leight lifestyle and the brand," Katz said.
3. Mental health care is vital.
To ease his stress, Leight makes sure he involves himself in activities that can take his mind far away from the world of business and entrepreneurship. He plays golf, softball, and regularly gets massages and acupuncture, and he recommends others invest in health and wellness activities that can ease the mind.
"I've felt overwhelmed in my head," Leight told Business Insider. "For me, stress comes … in my neck and my back. Some people, it's in their stomach, it's all through their body … I think even if you feel great at 25, it eventually will catch up to you. So I think introducing these [wellness] forms are important."
Katz doubled down on what Leight had to say.
"People think, 'Oh no, I can't take a break. I have to stay focused. I have to do this, and work all these hours,'" Katz said. "It's like, you're gonna end up not achieving what you could achieve if you just take the time to take care of yourself, do a digital detox, shut down for a little while to take your mind off of what you're doing and then come back feeling refreshed, feeling focused. You could get to the answer that you're looking for, the solution or whatever it is, so much quicker."
4. For a burgeoning brand, too much inventory can be deadly.
"You have to pay for everything you buy [but] you're not going to sell everything you buy," Leight said. "Some people are so lucky and, especially today, in that they could just have, it seems, mostly with celebrities and influencers, that they just make something, and they make 50 units and it sells out, and it's all about scarcity. But that's super rare and I would just be really conscious [of how much inventory you have]."
5. Strong leadership starts with having a grounded mindset.
One of the most important things Leight has learned throughout his career is to not take anything for granted.
"When you're growing really fast, you kind of feel like you're on top of the world and [you] could lose sight of some things," he said. "At least as an entrepreneur, you're always one mistake away from losing everything, more or less. So you just have to be aware of your business. And, especially as a creative leader, trying to have a grounded mindset and an understanding of the financial and operational side [can help you] be operationally excellent and not lose what you've created."
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