Welcome to Sleek's Meet the Maker Series! Each month, we'll be spotlighting our favorite founders, creators, designers, artists and do-it-yourselfers. They are the movers and shakers of our world. They remind us that there is magic in all of us that's waiting to be unleashed...if we just take the time to cultivate it. Anything is truly possible if you just go for it. You may or may not know about them, but you'll get to know some of the most intimate details of their work. Get ready to be inspired!
We felt it was fitting to kick off the coming summer month with Khue of Sunglass.LA. A fierce, feminist with a bad-ass background in fashion design who decided to roll out one of the largest and most diverse collection of sunnies we've ever seen. Offering over 3,000 universally- flattering styles, Sunglass.LA has already garnered quite a bit of buzz especially in the music festival scene.
What made you start Sunglass.LA?
SGLA began in 2015 when we played around with the idea of starting a store that carried an in house collection and also other brands such as Spy Optics, Raen, Shwood etc...
We really wanted to cater to a wider range of audiences by providing a styles that came in different shapes/sizes/ colors. Originally we just thought the domain was cool so we bought it and really just sat on it for about a year and half before we decided it was time.
How would you describe the company culture of Sunglass.LA?
The SGLA team is still very small, but as we continue to grow we are really discovering the true mission behind the company. Because the company is small, we are a like a small family and we treat each other with a lot of love and respect.
Our standards for each other are really simple but necessary, work hard, be kind, to grow with humility, to be honest and open.
You have a stunning Instagram feed that is creatively color-coordinated. What is the inspiration and messaging behind your brand?
Thank you so much for that kind compliment!!! When we started the company it was pretty hard to build content because we really had to get creative and find different ways to engage our audience, but also making our content worth people's time. To be honest, in the beginning we would just grab the camera, a tray of sunglasses and went out to shoot them on random street corners or throwing them on people that would be willing to model for us for a free pair of sunnies (this worked really well at the beach).
In the meantime, we also allocated at least 3 hrs a day to reaching out to every influencers that would be willing to collaborate with us. We didn't have the money to pay influencers, but luckily a few photographers and influencers were willing to work with us and sent us some imagery to re-post and use on our website.
The way we lay out our IG and website has a lot to do with the season we're in and the colors trending that season. We also work really hard to keep our IG diverse with different face shapes, body shapes, genders, race etc... we really do stand by our mission of selling sunglasses to everyone from the perfectly imperfect.
Sunglass.LA offers a slew of styles at affordable price points without sacrificing quality. How does your collection compare to the countless shades that are out there?
Our background is in fashion and eyewear, we have been in the eyewear game for at least 10 years. Thru the years we have been really blessed to have built a really good relationship with our vendors. We trust them and they trust us.
Also...even though we have a small team, our team members are really focus on giving our customers the best care. We really take our time to quality control every pair and our customer service team are just really amazing people that will never disappoint to make things right.
We hear that your background is in fashion and that you make gorgeous custom wedding dresses for fun when you're not overseeing Sunglass.LA. Tell us what that's like.
It's pretty rewarding! I graduated Otis with a degree in Fashion Design and I thought I was going to get into the wedding dress business, but I had a chance to intern at Guess and just really fell in love with denim. I was in the denim world for many years, but I always made wedding dresses for people as my side hustle (student loans are expensive!).
I take on a few dresses a year because it can be taxing to work a full time job and come home to bead a dress at night. But I just love sitting down with a bride and allowing her to dream up her dress, and I would custom it for her. Some brides have big dreams and it's not possible to fit everything in one, but I don't think there has been one unhappy bride yet.
It's just really rewarding for me because at the end of the day, what an honor it is to have a bride trust you enough to create something for her on her BIG DAY.
So you went from designing dresses to designing eyewear. Where does the inspiration for the styles and shapes you create come from?
Going from designing soft goods to hard goods is really different, but I love a challenge. I think a big part of being a good designer is not creating something for yourself, but being able to learn what people want and making that dream a reality.
I spend a lot of time being a sponge. The weekends are spent looking up new music videos, reading a ton of magazines, and seeing where the market is going. I study what high end brands are doing, because it gives a lot of insight on what the hottest artist will be rocking. For an example a few years ago we couldn't keep pink mirror in stock, but now the market is all about 90s fashion. It can be tough to predict what the next trend will be, but you just have to trust your gut.
So word is that you work with your husband. Tell us what that relationship is like. What are the pros and cons?
I'm laughing as I'm reading this question...I get asked this a lot actually.
To be honest, everyone thought we were crazy to work together, especially since we had just gotten married. But I think that working together has made us stronger. I can't say it was smooth sailing, there was a bit of learning curve in the beginning, but the hardest part was trying to figure out when to shut it down because we're both workaholics.
What really has been working for us is keeping an open line of communication. We talk to each other a lot. We don't talk much during work because we have so many things going on, but on that drive home we go over our days and talk to each other about what was good or what was frustrating. It also helps that he is one of the most loving and patient human beings.
What can I say...it works for us. We have a lot of love, trust, respect, and patience for each other. We always say if shit hits the fan and we're on our asses, at least it was an amazing ride and I would have done it with anyone else.
Where do you see Sunglass.LA in the next 5-10 years. What are the long term goals?
For me, SGLA is my baby, and I'm going to do everything in my power to nurture it and help it grow, but there will be a day when it's my time to let it go.
I really want to grow SGLA to a point where I can hand it off to someone and move on to the next thing. The most exciting part of this journey is growing a brand from the beginning and being a part it has been a really amazing journey for me. I hope in 5 years, I would walk down the street and see someone rocking a pair of sunnies with "sgla" on it.
Sunglass.la is teaming up with Sleekshop and StinaFace to give away an amazing collection of goodies that will get you summer ready! THREE lucky winners will score a $50 gift card to splurge on Sunglass.LA and SleekShop's website. Plus your choice of StinaFace magic makeup brushes and chunky glitter.
Here's how to enter:
1.) Follow @sunglass.la @sleekshopcom @stinaface
2.) Like and tag 3 friends on our giveaway post on Instagram
3.) In honor of these stellar shades from Sunglass.LA, tell us about a time you chose to shine even when someone decided to throw shade your way. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to note your Instagram handle so we know who you are. Look forward to hearing all about it :)
Giveaway ends Saturday, June 2nd.