Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Welcome to the Pod!  Our feed is available on all major podcast platforms and is supported by a small number of advertisers and directly by people like you.   If you've made it this far, please consider subscribing to the podcast and if you like what I'm doing, please consider supporting financially via the link below. 

Support the Podcast: Buy Me a Coffee

Sep 19, 2023

This week we sit down with Joe Earley, the driving force behind Tifosi's remarkable success. Earley traces his roots in mountain biking back to college years in Georgia, where the community's vibrant cycling culture exerted a significant influence.

Joe describes his early days as a outside rep in the cycling industry alongside his wife which laid crucial groundwork to the founding of Tifosi.  They recognized an opportunity in the world of sunglasses, spurred by the market's demand for cost-effective yet quality options.  The Tifosi brand was established in 2003. 

Joe describes Tifosi's in-depth attention to the smallest details. Adjustable ear pads, nose pads, innovative ventilation, and photochromic lenses - everything designed with the athlete in mind. They have integrated style with utility in the 'Swank', a lifestyle-looking glass that showcases their commitment to high-quality materials.

For gravel cyclists, Earley recommends the fog-resistant, rimless glasses from the rail series. With an easy lens-swapping mechanism, users can adjust according to different lighting situations.

Tifosi Optics Website

Support the Podcast

Join The Ridership 

Automated Transcription, please excuse the typos:

[00:00:00]Craig Dalton (host): Hey Joe, welcome to the show.

[00:00:02]Joe Earley: Thanks for having me.

[00:00:04]Craig Dalton (host): I'm excited to get into the story of Te Foci. As I was saying to you offline, I've been aware of the brand for, it feels like my entire cycling career, so it's great to have you on and just kind of learn a little bit more of the backstory and why don't we use that as our starting point.

Let's learn a little bit about your backstory. How'd you just, how'd you find cycling to begin with in your life, and where'd you grow up?

[00:00:26]Joe Earley: know, um, I think, uh, similarly to you, um, You know, at college, mountain biking was catching on like crazy in the early nineties. And, uh, I was spending a summer with my, my older brother who had a mountain bike and I borrowed a mountain bike and instantly, as soon as I went, uh, I was hooked and, uh, really have been in, in the sport of cycling ever since.

So, you know, early nineties got into mountain biking that transitioned to road cycling and then cycl across, and then now, Gravel road mountain bike, although I am recovering from a rotator cuff surgery, so I'm just on the road in gravel now. No mountain biking for a bit longer, but, uh, but yeah, that's how I got, um, got started in, uh, in the sports, uh, was really just through my, through my brother and, uh, Through college, just jumping on a mountain bike.

So, um, you know, and then similarly to you, I had a, just a passion, um, for cycling. Just loved it. And, um, got my first job outta college and went and did that for a while. Sales managing for, for a, a boat dealership of all things. And then, um, my wife, uh, Elizabeth, who runs the business with me, her dad was a, a rep in the cycling, in the tractor industry.

So he sold like tractor attachments. And I said, you know what, what Henry does, I, I could probably do that in, in cycling, right? There's gotta be some of those out there. So I picked up like a mountain bike action. I flipped to the back, to the list of advertisers and I just started calling companies. And, um, we started our own, um, independent cycling agency first.

So that was our, our first business in the, in the cycling space. Um, we ended up having a very successful agency here in the southeast. So we're based right

[00:02:08]Craig Dalton (host): gonna ask Joe, where,

[00:02:09]Joe Earley: Georgia.

[00:02:11]Craig Dalton (host): where were you in, where were you in college when you first discovered mountain

[00:02:14]Joe Earley: Uh, so I was at University of Georgia. Uh, I spent a, a summer in Birmingham, actually in, uh, Oak Mountain State Park. Any listeners in that area? Uh, one of the best mountain bike places I've ever been to still today, and I've been riding for 30 plus years. Um, so that was one of the first places I was exposed to, to mountain biking, but then came back here, uh, to college in the fall and, uh, Go Dogs, university of Georgia Town here.

We're in Watkinsville, Georgia, which is about 10 minutes from the University of Georgia in Athens. So, um,

[00:02:42]Craig Dalton (host): And, and I feel like in that sort of early to mid nineties, Georgia actually had a nor national race over in, in the

[00:02:49]Joe Earley: yeah, so actually we had, we had some interesting things. We actually hosted the, uh, the first Olympic mountain bike race here in Atlanta. We went to see that, that was crazy. It's, it's so hot here, uh, in the summer. So it was, uh, it was interesting seeing those guys hammer along. But yeah, there's been, um, you know, there's, there's also I think been a Norman National that used to be up at Sly, uh, in North Carolina, which is right over the, the border.

But, um, really active, um, mountain bike scene and, and cycling scene in general here in the southeast. Athens has always been a big, you know, cycling area, the Twilight Criterium, uh, one of the best. Probably road, um, cycling events to watch in the States. 'cause it's, it's downtown Athens at night. It's when students are in, it's, uh, it's a pretty electric vibe.

So it's a, it's a fun area for this.

[00:03:35]Craig Dalton (host): And would you describe it as being a vibrant cycling community year round in Georgia?

[00:03:40]Joe Earley: Um, yeah, I mean definitely there's pockets of, of areas where it's not as accessible. You know, if you're, if you're in parts of Atlanta, The, the, just with traffic and everything else, it's just not as accessible as a lot of other cities. Athens seems is a, is a pretty good community. We're in Watkinsville, which is a small town outside of it, but there's a lot of, you know, Atlanta does have the Silver Comet, which is a rails trail that goes all the way from Atlanta proper all the way out to the Alabama state line.

Um, and so it's, it's a nice, uh, venue to have there. So it's a, you know, it's a, it's a very. Cycling friendly community overall, just, I wouldn't ride on a lot of the roads in, in Atlanta, it's a little bit hairy just 'cause of the amount of volume and there's not a lot of dedicated, like some cities, a lot of dedicated, um, bike lanes.

[00:04:27]Craig Dalton (host): So you mentioned you and your wife started, uh, an independent rep agency focused on the cycling industry. What were the first products that you picked up?

[00:04:35]Joe Earley: my gosh. The first products we picked up, um, brands that are gone now, um, rocket Power Parts, which was like a, a glove company. Um, we did Cantina Mountain bike gear. I. Um, CKA Cranks for a while. Um, but then the first brands that we picked up that we really started to be able to build a business with, um, Louis Gar Apparel, uh, out of Quebec City.

And then, um, Marin Mountain Bikes. They didn't have any sales in our territory, but we were able to start building a business with those brands. And then, uh, over time we picked up, you know, a lot of great brands. Um, we were doing CD shoes, Easton, when they launched their cycling. Um, Products independently from selling through other people doing their, their carbon fiber products.

Um, gosh, what else do we have? We did cliff bars, another southeast company, defeat socks. Uh, we did sunglass brands. We did a lot of different, or a couple of different sunglass brands over the years. Um, and that's kind of what led to tci. We had a very successful cycling agency. We were selling what was at the time, the number one, you know, cycling, sunglass, and I would make a great commission for those.

Your listeners don't understand what an independent rep does. It's. You're a 10 99 independent contractor, you only make money on what you sell. So it's not like these companies are paying you a, a, a salary, it's if you sell a one of their products, you make a commission on it, uh, and you're selling to the bike shops.

So we would place a, a display of 12 or 24 pairs of these higher end products, and, and we get a nice commission at that point. And then I'd go around the next month to see Craig and say, Hey, Craig, you know, uh, What's going on with the sunglasses? It looks like you've sold a pair, you know, and they would sell one or two a month at most.

Um, and I'm like, guys, I can't stop the car for one pair of sunglasses. How can we sell some more?

[00:06:19]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Yeah. I think that's another like interesting point just to make sure everybody understands, is like as a independent sales rep, you're going out and visiting throughout the territory. Maybe it's Georgia or the broader Southeast, and you're visiting every single shop. Your job is to figure out how to sell the products.

You're obviously selling, but what, what's selling in the shops? Like, what should you be bringing to them? 'cause that's how you make money.

[00:06:45]Joe Earley: And it's, it was a great, um, great business. Loved it still. In fact, my, my former agency, a fellow who worked for me runs it now. Um, so still, still exists. Um, great. Interacting with the retailers. 'cause what's great about the cycling industry is that the. The retailers and the shop owners. In the shop buyers, they are the market.

You know, they're kind of like me and you. They got into it 'cause they, they like cycling. There's not a lot of people in the cycling industry that. Oh, well, I just, I, I wanted to, you know, start a, a great business and make millions of dollars, so I'm gonna go sell bikes, right? It's just not that type of market.

So, um, you know, you're interacting with people who get the product, they get what is exciting to their consumers. Um, and so that was, that was a great learning experience just overall about products and demand and what. Selling through products. Um, you know, and we consistently see our retailers and they have sold a pair of sunglasses.

And as we were talking to them, the feedback was if they had something that was nice at a, at a lower price point, they thought they could sell, you know, more products. Um, at the same time, you know, I knew lots of reps in other territories, so we just started calling other reps in other territories going, Hey, Do you see something like this?

And at the time, um, what we were focused on was the interchangeable sunglasses. So in, in mountain biking and cycling in general, the idea of being able to, to swap your lenses out quickly and easily and have those in a package, um, it was available. But the brands that was available in it was generally a hundred to 150 or $200 or more.


[00:08:16]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, and it feels like a lot of times you would buy the glass and you'd have to buy the lens separately, so it wasn't just $150, it was $210. All

[00:08:23]Joe Earley: even the brand I was selling at the time, you know, I'm going to them going, Hey guys, just give me a product that comes with the lenses and retails at even a hundred. And I could sell quite a few of these. And so our idea was to come to the market with three lenses and be able to retail it at $50 or $60.

And um, you know, we talked to other reps and other territories and consistently feedback was, no, they don't see something like this. Or, yeah, there's something there, but it's. It's just not very nice. Um, and meanwhile, there was a, a large e-commerce retailer that a lot of you guys knew in the day and, and still exists now, but performance bike was based in my territory.

So they had a big mail order component and they had about a hundred stores and they were doing it. They had a sunglass that had three lenses and a case, and it retail for about 50 bucks. We can do it. It's gotta be there somewhere. So, um, In 2003, we, we said, okay, let's do it ourselves. 2002, we made the decision.

We went over and, and found some sourcing and, um, we brought I think a total of 23 SKUs, 24 SKUs to market that first year. Um,

[00:09:26]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, I was gonna ask, how did you, I mean that there's a, it's a big step between here and there, which is like, okay, we have this idea, we think a price point is viable at 50, $79, whatever it was at the time. But actually sourcing glasses, you're an enthusiast, your wife's an enthusiast, you understand the market.

It was not gonna be feasible for you to put out, you know, super low quality glass. And have any vision for OSI surviving is that, how did you get to creating a product that met your own expectations as well as the price

[00:09:58]Joe Earley: Yeah. So, um, you know, we made a trip. I made a trip. She ran everything here. Um, went to a huge optical show over in, uh, in Hong Kong actually, and met with, had to be 300 different suppliers, factories there. And, uh, had the concept of what we wanted. Had kind of the, the three lens, had some examples of what we were looking for and just literally went and met with every single one of them there over a, a four day, uh, trade show.

And we found. Three, maybe four, that we thought could do the quality and had the products. And we started with, you know, open mold products. So we said, Hey, we're looking for products that already exist like this. And, um, we found those. We, we quickly even starting in, you know, late in year one, we started developing our own.

Molds in our own products, our own designs, but we started with things we negotiated and exclusive for North America with them and said, Hey, don't sell these to other people. We like this design. And we brought, uh, a collection to market from there. Um, we've been very, very fortunate in that, um, you know, one of those partners that we started with in 2003, I.

Is a partner we still work with today. So we've got longstanding relationships. All of our products are, are made in Taiwan, um, not in mainland China, but, uh, well all with the exception of one. We do have one product, uh, our aviator that's made there 'cause there's no metal production of sunglasses generally in Taiwan.

Um, but uh, yeah, we, we were really fortunate to partner with somebody there and then started quickly trying to develop our, some proprietary products thereafter. But, uh, we were fortunate that we had the sales apparatus with the. The sales agency that we kind of knew how to sell things. And Elizabeth, my wife, was running, uh, an east coast warehouse for one of our companies.

Um, so she already knew the pick pack shipping operation side of things. So we, all we needed was the product fortunately, um, to kind of

[00:11:46]Craig Dalton (host): Question for you on that, on that product, Joe, I always think about sort of the lenses and the quality of lenses being important for cycling, right? We all wanna feel confident that if a rock hits us, it's not gonna break, et cetera. I. Was that were the lens quality already there with these manufacturers?

They understood like they need a high impact lens.

[00:12:06]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean, uh, the, the, the idea of a polycarbonate lens, uh, which is what we source on most of the products we do, we offer shatterproof product lenses on all of them. Some of our photochromics use a little bit different material. Um, 'cause of the technologies involved, but they're all shatterproof. You know, you can hit 'em with a hammer, they won't break.

That technology was there. Um, and you'd be shocked at, you know, the higher end brands, high price brands that are being made in, in those facilities already. Um, so we, we knew from, hey, what they're already making, they can make the quality we're looking for.

[00:12:39]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah.

[00:12:40]Joe Earley: we were, we were fortunate in that standpoint.

We did learn a lot about lenses 'cause. You know, for instance, our first polarized products that we offered, we were using a, what's called a tack lens, which is not something we were recommending recycling at the time. Um, we moved outta that just in year two, just because it's, it doesn't have as much impact protection as like what we have with all the products now, but the lens quality and the impact protection from like the interchangeable sets, um, it was there.

[00:13:06]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, and this is really rounding out the OSI story for me. 'cause knowing that you guys were within the industry and were independent reps and. Intended on going into the bike, local bike shops from the get go is super interesting. So I, I presume sort of in those first years you were able to kind of tap into obviously your, the local southeast region where you already had a lot of personal connections, but it also sounds like you had connections in other regions to sign up other independent reps to start putting the product

[00:13:35]Joe Earley: know, it's a, it is a relationship business in cycling. Um, you know, I, I both, we sold it in the southeast with our agency, but then we were able to contact, we knew who the good sales reps were. I. In all the other territories. Um, now it's a, as a pioneering brand that didn't have sales, that was a challenge to get, you know, good reps on board.

But we were really blessed, um, and that we were having really good success with it. Here we got a, I think we only started with six territories, um, to begin with. Um, so call it six or eight total reps, you know. Now on the cycling side of things, we probably have at least 35 ish. In that space. So we started small with that, but we went from zero to 500 retailers in the very first year.

Um, just word of mouth, the retailers, word of mouth with the, the reps, you know, when we place the product in the retail stores, they started checking it right away and at a very high turn, generally in the same, you know, retail location, we're gonna sell seven or eight times as fast as their $150 sunglasses that they carry.

Um, so we were very fortunate in that. And so we went from 500 dealers to a thousand and now, In the US we have about 3,500 retailers, um, doors that carry the product, and that's in the cycling space, which we're the number one market share. We have about 74% of the market, um, in cycling specialty stores.

So seven and a half, 10 pair of sunglasses they sell. S um, but we're, you know, a top brand in the running space, uh, in outdoor we're carried in every R e I location out there. Uh, we actually have a really strong business, um, in the golf, golf arena. Um, we saw that as an adjacency, and so we're primarily focused on sport products.

Um, but you know, cycling was kind of where we started and where still our largest kind of single market in the US is today. But we have distribution now in about. 35 other countries. Um, and almost all of those are cycling, um, specific types of distributors.

[00:15:28]Craig Dalton (host): Got it. How, how, when did you sort of, uh, extend beyond the initial cycling industry and kind of go into running and multisport?

[00:15:38]Joe Earley: um, we, we actually, so running was, was adjacent, but we really didn't, we didn't know it. Um, we had, uh, a lot, quite a few of our, a couple of our reps were doing Sego in the day and Sego was a strong cycling brand, but they had a very strong running apparel brand. And, um, almost by accident we had some reps who were doing Sego already.

And so they're calling on run stores and so they just started pitching to FCI to them and they started picking 'em up and they were selling 'em, and they were like, we didn't even realize that. I think M P D came to us maybe back in, which is a, used to be, it's a. Retail reporting software, a company that, that collects retail data.

It was probably 2006 or 2007. We were the number one market share in running specialty stores, and we didn't even know it. Um, our market share was actually stronger than it was in in Pike. Uh, it was just a smaller market. There's not as many, uh, Running specialty doors, is there our cycling doors? Um, so it really started even, you know, in late 2003, we had some adjacency.

We were picking it up, and then kind of 2004, 2005, we realized, hey, this is a great other area. Same thing for golf. We saw that as an, as an easy adjacency. So we started knocking on those doors with other independent reps. So we knew the independent rep world. We knew how, how they operate, and we set up our business to make it.

Easy for them to, to write orders and to get business and uh, and to make commissions. And so that, that worked very, very well for us building our brand, you know, through, through the retail network.

[00:17:10]Craig Dalton (host): And Joe, how have you guys thought about product development over the years? I mean, obviously like sunglasses have been very trendy and there's been sort of an evolution. Maybe it comes from taste makers, maybe it's artificially inserted into our tastes from bigger brands with bigger marketing budgets.

But I'm just curious kinda how you see product development and putting the best product possible out there.

[00:17:33]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean, uh, our, we have three legs to the company stool that we talk about, and number one is product. We, we feel like we have to bring out, you know, very high quality. Technical bells and whistles, sunglasses that, um, people can use for, you know, these crazy sports that they go out and do. You know, um, cycling, gravel cycling is some of these events.

It's brutal on the product. So we feel like that's like the first leg of the stool. And it's certainly you see evolution, um, with the product. But we're looking for what are technical benefits that we can bring to make the experience for the end consumer better. And so it started, like the first feature was coming in with multiple sets of lenses, right?

It came with multiple sets of lenses, came with a case retail around $60. Um, you know, over time we found other features that we thought, Hey, this, this really makes it better. We were always noticing it with, with all the cycling helmets, the retention systems started really. Changing and they were bigger or smaller.

And so then your eyewear stems would interact with 'em either in a negative or a positive way. So we started adding adjustability to the ear pads so that you could adjust them to get 'em to be the right fit for you. And then we noticed, okay, the same thing's true for noses. Your nose, my nose, you know, your wife's all different.

So if you can adjust the nose pad, that makes it. A better experience for them when they're doing these, these crazy events. Um, and then we noticing, you know, like putting ventilation in lenses. Um, we've, we've gone so far now as we have like a utility patent on our, what we use on the rail system now, but started with our podium design.

It's a, it's a shield rems design that you can interchange the lenses easily on. And so just looking for these innovations that would make it easier for the end consumer and make their experience better. Um, photochromic lenses, you and I were talking about beforehand, that's been a. A huge part of our business, you know, these lenses darken and lighten automatically in about 12 seconds.

They'll go from light to dark. And so when you're talking about, you know, the gravel events with different, um, you know, lighting conditions start first thing in the morning. You want something lighter. But then you, when you're at the peak of the day and you're out on Mount Tam, like you're talking about the blazing sun, you want it to be to darken up, but you don't wanna have to pull over and swap out the lenses.

So there's been a lot of technical innovations that kind of happened over the years. There is some fashion to it, Craig, for sure. Um, you know, it's, it's gotta look cool and it's gotta look cool to the end consumer and what everybody considers cool. It does change over time. Um, you know, we've definitely seen that right now on the sports side of things.

You know, the big shield is, Is absolutely where the market is at. They won't, consumers looking for something that's flatter, uh, which actually for the end consumer optically is a little bit better. Uh, these flat lenses, um, give a distinct look, which is why most of the consumers are buying them, but the fact that they have less curve actually makes their optics a little bit better too.

Um, so, you know, they, and then we have another whole side of our business that's more what I would consider sport lifestyle products. Um, in 2018, we launched a product called Swank, which is, um, It's, it's a lifestyle looking glass, but it's made with the same frame and lens materials that we make the, you know, $80 interchangeables with.

So you can go, you know, do a, a gravel race in it or you can go hang out in the coffee shop with it. And that's been one huge change in, uh, in the business in the last, you know, six years. That's now 60% of the volume.

[00:20:55]Craig Dalton (host): And do you find that some of the, the cycling shops are picking up those more casual

[00:20:59]Joe Earley: Yeah, they almost all do both. They almost all do both. In fact, up until, um, Actually still in units. The swank model that we sell is the number one selling sunglass in the cycling industry. Um, and funny story, we were talking about the vegan cyclist before, uh, we started recording Tyler rides with both.

He'll ride our rail, which is our top of the line kind of sport piece, and then he'll wear our Swank xl and he's doing these crazy long events in what I consider something to be way more casual. It's got him fully protected, but he loves the way it looks. He loves the way it fits. And you know, that's 80% of the battle You wanna have something that's comfortable.

Comfortable for you that, that you're comfortable with when you're out there doing these things?

[00:21:38]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Do you think about product development, we talk about cycling specifically. Do you think about mountain bikers differently than you do gravel riders or road riders, or do they all kinda end up merging

[00:21:50]Joe Earley: I, you know, I think there's a lot of crossover. 'cause I mean, how many of us are there that we do? We do it all right. I mean, I started mountain biking, then I got into road cycling, and then I cycl across and then I do gravel. I used the same pair for all of them. Um, personally, there are some nuances, you know, in the mountain biking space, um, there is a little bit of preference to have something that's more full frame.

Generally where that comes from is, um, you know, there's some, some mindset that, hey, if I crash, if it's got a frame on the bottom, that's not gonna cut me. I'm telling you from personal experience and from seeing tons of pictures over the years, if you crash hard enough, it won't matter whether you've got a full frame or you don't have a frame.

You've got that, that possibility out there. Um, but I think, you know, most people these days are doing multiple disciplines. You know, when you're gravel cycling, you're p you're mountain biking, a lot of times you're doing single track, you're doing fire roads, you're doing road for certain parts of it. So those lines are so blurred now that I think the product tends to be quite a bit blurred as well.

It used to be much more niche like, oh, if it's an open lens glass, that's for roadies. And then if it's a full frame, that's for mountain bikers. I don't see as much of that anymore. There's still some of it, but it's not nearly as much now.

[00:23:02]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah. Yeah. I have to say when I first started riding the rail, my, my initial reaction was, this thing is so light. Can it possibly withstand? I mean, it's not like I go around crashing my face into things, but it was just this reaction I had. Like, is this gonna be durable enough? And, gosh, I've been wearing that glass for maybe at least a month now.

And fortunately, knock on wood, I haven't crashed it. But I think I've, I've, I no longer think about durability as an issue

[00:23:31]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean we, we literally, when we started it, it's like we kind of talked about it's. People say, well, if it's, if it's $80 and it's got all the features of this $250 sunglass, well what's wrong with it? That's the the impression. We would go to trade shows with a hammer and we literally would put lenses on the ground and we would start hammering on the trade show floor just so people could see that, Hey, this is gonna protect you.

Um, you know, why? How can we do it? Why Y is, you know, Y is brand X $250 if you try to put three lenses with it and we're able to sell them for $80 or even have. High quality products like swank that retail all the way down to $25. Well, it's a couple things. One, we're based in Watkinsville, Georgia. None of y'all have heard from it because it's the middle of nowhere almost.

You know, we're 10 miles outside of Athens. We're not based in Southern California, so our cost of doing business is much lower. Um, number two, our marketing budget is tiny, right? I mean, you don't see full page ads with all the top Pro, pro tour riders. We don't pay. Those, those guys, we just don't, we don't have the budget for that.

We're trying to give the consumer that high quality product at a value. And the way we do it is we've just got a lot smaller budgets overall, and we don't make nearly the margin. It's the high-end sunglass manufacturers do. Um, so that's kind of the, the secret in the sauce. Um, You know, it's, it's, we control our overhead for things, and we don't pay for, you know, crazy, crazy spends.

We don't have the money to do that, so we're delivering the consumer a great product and they buy lots of it.

[00:25:03]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, I think you know that in the absence of this conversation, I would've assumed you were only a direct consumer brand and that's how you were able to achieve the, the price points that you are. So the fact that you're also affording a margin to your specialty bicycle retailer and running shops is quite impressive and maybe more illustrative of.

What the cost of production actually is and what the cost of all those massive marketing budgets are for some of the bigger sung companies.

[00:25:31]Joe Earley: I mean, it's a, it's a highly competitive space. I mean, most people know there is one company out there that's $25 billion in sales, and they really, mostly 99.9% of their business is on the ultra high end. And you know, from their standpoint, they have a great business. If they can sell it for $300, then they should.

If someone will pay for it, then great. Uh, I've just never been wired that way. I was not that guy. I just can't get my mind around it because we've all had that high-end brand and we drop 'em a week after we buy 'em. And the scratches right in your field of vision and you've got a sick feeling in your stomach for this crazy expensive purchase you made that suddenly is now.

That you've gotta go and spend more money to fix. Um, so that's just never been, never been our motto. It's all about having that value for the end consumer.

[00:26:21]Craig Dalton (host): Got it. And Joe, if you were to recommend something in your lineup, and I know there's a lot of personal preference that goes into this, but if you were to recommend one set of glasses for a gravel cyclist out of your lineup, what would it be and why? I.

[00:26:34]Joe Earley: Um, for me it would be the rail series. Um, so we have a standard rail and we have a rail XC and a rail race. They're all the same frame. I. Um, I like it 'cause it's completely rimless. Um, I like the completely rimless glass because you don't have to worry about fogging as much. So even if you're in a single track section down here in Georgia where it's super humid, if you're moving a little bit, it's gonna bring some airflow and you have nothing impeding your field of vision.

You don't have a frame anywhere that you really notice in the activity. So, um, and I would recommend looking at one of what we call photo tech. Which is a photochromic option. We've got, um, both the Clarion Red and the Clarion Blue Photo Tech. What is that? These are, these are glasses that have a slight mirror to them.

So, um, they're very light colored when they're not activated. But then when you're in full sun, you know, they're gonna give you a lot of shade. I have blue eyes, so I need that when I'm out there in full sun. And when you ride here in Georgia, mostly riding in full sun. Um, so I would definitely look at the rail series.

That is, that's our bestselling, you know, Performance, um, sport piece in the line today.

[00:27:38]Craig Dalton (host): That's the one I'm using. I'm using the, the blue one and it's the first time I, I put it on in my garage. It was really funny 'cause it's like, put it on, I looked in a mirror just to kind of see the color and then I walked outside. And to your point, like it changes pretty. Rapidly, um, really cool technology and, and to your point, like for an off-road cyclist, that versatility of the, the lenses changing themselves is super helpful.

'cause you don't have to change when you go in the woods, it's gonna automatically kind of just change that, that mirror element or the darkness that you're experiencing looking through 'em.

[00:28:10]Joe Earley: Yeah, I mean it's, it is a technology that we started offering in 2005, um, and it's come. A tremendous way now, I mean these mirrored versions that we have now, those are just available in the last three seasons, um, that we just started offering those. That's not something you really see a lot of out there.

Um, and we've definitely seen a lot of, a lot of end consumers on the cycling side of things love these. Um, 'cause one look, we all wanna, we think we look cool, um, with the helmet and the Lycra on and all that. Um, but definitely having that mirror out there, it. It looks cool too. So it, it definitely gives that, that, uh, the fashion factor that we all are looking for.

[00:28:50]Craig Dalton (host): Nice. And the, the, the rail in the non photochromatic lenses, you've got, it sounds like you've got several op uh, options there as well. What are those, what do those look like? Are those clear lenses? Dark

[00:29:01]Joe Earley: those are gonna come with three lenses. The lenses that come in the frame will be a shaded lens, you know, probably mirrored, um, more for full sun conditions. They'll come with what we call an AC red, all conditions red. That's a good like mid light conditions. If you're unsure what you're gonna be doing, go with the AC red.

And then we always put a clear lens in the package. Um, you know, still a lot of people that like to ride at dusk or at night. And so this gives you a great night riding option there. All those, you can swap 'em out in just a couple of minutes. Um, Not even a couple of minutes inside of, you know, a minute.

Once you're, once you're comfortable with 'em, they're very easy to swap those lenses in and out, in and out. And we do find people that, you know, they'll buy a photochromic option and then they wanna buy an extra lens to have, you know, you can get all those on our website. We offer custom, you know, products.

So you can go on our custom, you know, portal on the web website and build up a rail with whatever frame color you want, whatever lens color you want, whatever ear, padd color you want, so you can fully customize it.

[00:29:55]Craig Dalton (host): Nice. Since I got the Photochromatic one, it didn't have multiple lenses, so I'm curious how, how do you actually. Take the lens out 'cause it's a frameless design. So for the listener, you've got the, the, the ear earpieces going directly into the lens itself.

[00:30:11]Joe Earley: Yeah, we've

[00:30:12]Craig Dalton (host): Joe's gonna hold up a pair of glasses.

[00:30:13]Joe Earley: on the side. I've got the glasses in front of me here. Um, but this, this mechanism on the side here, it basically, there's a little cam here. This, this has a little flex into the backside of the frame. This is a patent we have. Um, and so it allows this frame to flex and then just pull off.

So it's, it's almost like a little bottle opener almost. And then when you put it back in, you just put it in the groove there and you just snap it on. It's just rotating it up and rotating it down. So it's, it's actually very, very simple. The biggest thing is, Craig, don't be scared. You know, these, these glasses.

And I do this, uh, I do this for people all the time too. Let me grab a, um, I'll grab a sample. Ah, shoot, I don't have a good sample here to do it with, but our glasses with the, the frame material we use. You can twist 'em 180 degrees like this, so you're not gonna break them. And like I said, you can hit 'em with a hammer and they won't break.

So don't be scared. Um, but we do have videos

[00:31:05]Craig Dalton (host): let my nine year old, I can, I can let my nine year old manhandle him.

[00:31:08]Joe Earley: I'm telling you, nine year olds and dogs are our two nesses. Um, that in my wife's purse, uh, if I wanna torture, test a pair of sunglasses, I just don't tell her and I put 'em in her purse and leave them there for a month. If they come out and they're in any type of shape to wear after that, then I know that they're gonna be a good product.

[00:31:25]Craig Dalton (host): Yeah, I like that. I like that. Joe, this was awesome. I appreciate getting the backstory. Like I said, I've been familiar with the brand for so many years and I'm, I'm thrilled to actually own a pair now and get to use them and really can personally vouch for the quality and just super excited to hear that entrepreneurial journey and I wish you guys all the best.

[00:31:43]Joe Earley: thank you so much for having us, Craig, and, um, you know, if we can help you anytime in the future, feel free. Free to give us a shout.