Episode 62 / Moving the Rock from Zero to One
Listen via iTunes / Google Play / MP3

“You have to create a great product, but that's not enough. That's just table stakes.”

Before breaking off on his own, GREATS co-founder, Ryan Babenzien led Lifestyle and Entertainment marketing at Puma and K-Swiss, pioneering what was the first iteration of influencer marketing. Launched in 2014, GREATS is built on taking tried-and-true shoe silhouettes, making the design minimal and pricing them for the masses. GREATS started off as a men’s focused digitally native brand, but expanded to women’s shoes in 2017. While most of their business is online, Ryan is leaning into the omnichannel approach. Four years in, they’re on the cusp of breaking into an incumbent-dominated club by toeing the line between tradition and trend in retail.

On this episode, Ryan talks about scaling influence (4:16). He shares how finding the razor’s edge in growth is an exercise in brand building (10:54) and managing marketing collaborations tightly (11:30). Ryan explains what all great brands have in common (12:56), and how he found the right wholesale partner in Nordstrom (15:51). He talks about GREATS’ design ethos (18:11) and how classics will always drive volume over trends (21:09) — arguing that hype is the enemy of brand (28:27). He shares how they leverage Single’s Day even when they don’t sell overseas (35:30) and their biggest design learning (36:46). Lastly, Stephan and Ryan evaluate cost per wear (47:11) and Ryan’s own set of “greats” (49:20).

Shop GREATS and follow them on Instagram.

 Moving the Rock from Zero to One

Also mentioned on the show:


You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

Enjoying the Lumi Blog? Receive our weekly email digest.