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Meet Chase Fisher of Blenders Eyewear in Pacific Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chase Fisher.

The Blenders logo, the ‘Signature Stripes //’, means “life in forward motion.” The stripes are imprinted on each side of every Blenders product, standing as a constant symbol of passion and progress.

Blenders Eyewear was founded in 2012 by Chase Fisher and Blake Jensen. The idea spawned when Chase went to see one of his favorite DJs at a Downtown San Diego nightclub. His neon green “beater” sunglasses received an overwhelmingly positive response, and what started out as a night full of close friends and good music quickly escalated into a full-fledged obsession with sunglasses.

During this time, Chase and Blake were neighbors on a Pacific Beach, CA street named ‘Hornblend’, which gave birth to the name ‘Blenders.’ The moniker also plays on the mixing, matching and blending of various colors seen throughout the company’s product line. Blake, a graphic designer, crafted a logo and Facebook page within three days of meeting Chase. Demand for initial designs arrived immediately following social media circulation, resulting in substantive feedback and requests for purchasing details. This early feedback galvanized Chase and Blake, serving as a validation of their business model.

The duo began observing various trends and styles in San Diego and noticed a major void in the market between high-end designer sunglasses and low-end beater shades. They couldn’t pinpoint a brand that delivered quality construction paired with an acceptably low price threshold. Following research, they discovered that the eyewear market was heavily dominated by a small group of players that leverage heavy controls on all pricing, distribution, and manufacturing. Chase and Blake determined it was this fact that likely stood behind their inability to procure affordable sunglasses with the design characteristics they desired.

They received $2,000 loan from Chase’s roommate to purchase a trademark and website domain, as well as fund the first round of sunglasses and sticker creation. Shortly after, Chase and Blake launched the company at San Diego State’s Entrepreneur Day. Following company launch, it became apparent that the sunglasses line needed more colorways and styles so they took to Indiegogo. After a successful campaign, they had a line of affordable sunglasses whose brightly-colored and patterned frames and tinted lenses were fresh and eye-catching. A direct-to-consumer sales model, with most purchases transacted via the eCommerce site, helped keep costs low.

Stickers and sunglasses were passed out at local beaches, pool parties, and music festivals to generate exposure, and relied heavily on social media with half a million followers on Facebook and Instagram. Such grassroots marketing tactics spurred brand popularity, with Blenders sunglasses appearing on many artists and DJs that would frequently visit San Diego.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Emotional Rollercoaster:
– the emotional highs and lows of running a business are some of the toughest and most challenging times you encounter with entrepreneurship.

Innumerable Sacrifices:
– You have to be ready to work late nights every single night for a long time.
– You have to be ready to downsize your life, car, house, lifestyle, trips, vacations, weekends, etc.
– 24/7 work mode. There is NO off switch for this and you have to be ready to designate every single ounce of energy you have into your business.

Need to be Liked:
You are going to be liked by some, loved by others, criticized by a handful, and disliked by few. Therefore, it makes the most sense to do what you want regardless of how people think or what they say.

Manufacturing / Lead times:
– Products showing up wrong, incorrect, defected, etc.
– Lead times are 120days which handicaps your cash flow as deposits and cash are put forth to fund your inventory and not recouped for up to 4 months which is very hard. And, when your products show up wrong or incorrect, it is extremely tough.

Cash Flow:
– Managing cash is one of the most critical things you can do when you first start out. Your business needs just as much food and water as you do. This goes hand in hand with sacrificing and downsizing your lifestyle in the early days to set you up for future success.
– With an inventory based business, your money is either in 2 places. On the shelf in product or in the bank. Managing inventory is very important and if not done properly, you can over order, drain your cash and bury your business. We almost did this a handful of times.

Inventory Mangement:
– Having the right products at the at right times repeatedly is bar none, one of the most frustrating and challenging things to nail down. Not all products are going to be a home run. You have to try innumerable times to find the products and that costs a lot of time and money to do. Trends come and go faster than ever before and it is important to stay ahead of the curve with what the market is doing. 120day lead times certainly don’t help.

Managing Employees/Building a team
– Managing other people and the skill of leadership is one of the hardest skills to learn.
– Learning to delegate, hire and lead a team is exhausting and something that needs to be mastered in order to be successful.
– Hiring the right people and finding those people is very difficult and something that takes a ton of time to do.

Please tell us about Blenders Eyewear.
Blenders Eyewear is a premium lifestyle brand from San Diego, CA. We specialize in fresh, vibrant comfortable sunglasses and snow goggles that are founded on fun, designed for adventure and priced to party.

We pride ourselves on a radical design that unabashedly pushes you outside your comfort zone. We design our products around our favorite passions in life and deliver them with an unparalleled customer experience. Our brand stands for passion and progress and is a symbol of life in forwarding motion. Every time you put on Blenders you embody this.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
You know nothing (but that’s ok)
– When you first start out, you think you know it all and are overly confident – when in reality you have NO clue what this journey truly feels or looks like.

Find a Mentor and Role Model them
– So many people try and learn from the wrong people but its most important to learn from someone who has actually built something or had success in your field.

Learn by doing
– Nothing is more valuable than tripping over your own feet and learning from your experience

Cash is your gasoline
– Something I knew well, but didn’t know really how important it is. Without cash, your company dies.

Customer service is an investment NOT an expense
– Customer service is more important than ever before and word of mouth can travel faster than ever before.
– Everyone has a voice and the ability to blast you to their friends and you must make sure you deliver the most impactful customer service experience possible.
– Companies live and die on customer service and if you don’t take this seriously, you will lose.

Being a “YES” man
– The burden of opportunity is real and something very easy to get distracted by.
– Chasing too many rabbits at once can spin you in wrong directions, detract from your focus or priorities that are more impactful

Entrepreneurship is lonely.
– Nobody will understand how hard you work at what you do. Nobody will acknowledge or give you a high five when you feel you deserve it. Especially when you first start out.
– Nobody will take the fall when you mess up. Nobody will be able to tell you which direction is right or wrong

There is NO magic unicorn.
– Understand aggressive patience in that good things take time to materialize. Building a brand, something that is globally recognized and respected takes years to develop. It takes years for customers to trust you. It takes years for your credibility to establish. Understanding this mindset makes it a lot easier, because in today’s day and age – everyone wants the instant gratification.

Pricing:

  • Sunglasses $20-$65
  • Snow Goggles $85

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Stephen Plopper, Morgan Oliver, Lauren Parks

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