We make floating sunglasses for Water JunkiesTM and adventurous souls who can't stand to watch the action from the shoreline. Get outside and #lookaround!
Rheos is the Greek word for river current. A river is constantly flowing, constantly changing, and most importantly, it carves its own path. Looking back, it’s no wonder that is the only word that captures the essence of what the brand has become today.
July 2015, we were itching to create a great business. I remember sitting in my living room hanging with my best bud Colin (hey Colin!) trying to think of what the heck we were going to do. We had both spent most of our careers helping other businesses tell their stories online. We were pretty good at our jobs, and we loved our clients. But we wanted to make our own product, our own brand. One we could grow into something that did right and one we cared about deeply. We didn't want the biggest company, we wanted the best. The kind of business you refuse to sell because it's been in your family for decades.
At the time, we didn't quite yet know what we were going to make, but we knew where we wanted it to go. We loved nothing more than being outside, trying new things, meeting new people. We knew we loved the sound of campfires...and crickets. That was just enough for Colin to find what we were looking for. "Rheos," he said. It comes from an old Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for he's not the same man, and it's not the same river."
That was all it took to get to the wheels spinning. Through our research we learned one of the most monopolized industries in the world is eyewear. A single brand owns more than 80% of almost every vertical of the industry from design and manufacturing to retail and distribution. The founder is quoted on 60-Minutes saying "the illusion of competition is a powerful thing" (you can watch the full video on 60-Minutes here). While that is very true, we thought that actual competition might be a bit more appropriate for us as consumers.
We spent the next 6-months obsessing over every detail; researching, designing, breaking, remaking until we felt finally ready to launch the highest quality pair of shades at the most accessible pricing possible. Most of this development action happened from the road sitting in the living room (I guess we can call it that) of a 1981 Airstream Excella II. My future wife and I traveled the country working on projects, meeting new people, taking in the sights all the while waiting to be ready to finally launch.
After our arrival back to home base in Atlanta, we launched our first true product line on March 22, 2016: the Lifestyle and Sport frames of our Rheos Gear Floating Sunglasses. Pretty sweet names right? Well, we sold out of our first full shipment in less than 60 days. Scrambling to restock and meet demand, we knew we had struck a chord with others who shared our passion both for high-quality/affordably-priced sunglasses (that float!) as well as a relentless desire to explore without having to babysit the gear that was meant to protect us and not the other way around.
We are thrilled to have your help in growing this brand and we cherish every customer, every referral, and every opportunity to make more great products for water junkies in the future. Quite literally, it keeps us going. Through an efficient supply chain, we operate with our friends at the B2C accelerator Switchyards in our hometown of Atlanta! We operate on the fundamentals of cash flow maintaining profitability through word-of-mouth and minimal marketing and advertising. It's the only way we know how to build the business we dreamed of steady as she goes and on our terms, away from the pressures of VC-funded operations.
We are as committed to making amazing sunglasses and outdoor water gear as we are to helping you, our fellow explorers, discover and carve your own path. We believe the biggest part of our job is helping you get outside more often because that is where the best of us comes to life whether it's a trek across the globe or the park across the street. After all, we don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. Our story is hardly just beginning as we still have lots to learn, and I can't wait to see where the next adventure leads or where we'll be years from now.
Rheos Gear is born in Atlanta, and we love to support our local communities. Don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything we can do for you. Now get outside and #lookaround!
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” – Heraclitus