Karl Fuhre, Sales and marketing director at I/S Eyewear fills us in on the changes that have happened with the legendary Canadian eyewear brand in recent years.
Can you explain the ownership change?
The former owner of I/S Eyewear moved to Asia about 5 years ago to take over his family business. Once he moved away, I/S was no longer his focus and the brand began to suffer and stagnate. It was a very frustrating time for those of us wanting to push forward with the brand we helped build. After a couple years away he realized he was holding the brand back and decided it was time to sell. Around the same time I was introduced to Lawrence Flagel through a mutual friend. He was looking for an opportunity within the action sports industry and saw our rich heritage and past success as a great base to build upon. Wanting to maintain consistency and push forward with a longterm member of the I/S team I was brought on as part owner to help relaunch the brand. Rick Wong was also brought on board to lead our product development. In May 2011 we formed Sightline Distribution Inc. and took over I/S Eyewear.
How has this affected the brand?
We took a good hard look at what we wanted to see out of I/S Eyewear moving forward and shifted our focus and resources to product development. Our goal is to create product that speaks for itself. It has been a very busy year and a half. We’ve developed two new goggle frames, moved production to new factories, developed a partnership with Carl Zeiss Optics to supply our goggle shields and sunglass lenses, launched an all new website and will release eight new sunglass frames this spring. Product development takes time and we’re just finally starting to reap the rewards of what we’ve been working on.
-What are some of your marketing initiatives for 2013?
Our goal is to produce product that speaks for itself. We’re working hard to get our eyewear on people. Shop staff, local rippers and end consumers. Our Canadian Sales manager at Meridian Distribution Dave Bestwick has been doing on hill demos with our goggles, which has been really successful. Any retailers out there interested in trying out our goggles first hand can contact Dave at 604-985-6569 x 250 or by email at email@example.com. He has a full demo fleet ready to go. We find once people have the chance to try our product they’re sold. Team riders have historically been a big part of who we are and their feedback is extremely valuable when it comes to product development. We have guys who’ve been on the snow program forever like Tadashi Fuse, Chris Dufficy and Kale Stephens who all have years of experience in the backcountry and know exactly what they want out of a goggle. We also have up and comers like Chris Larson, Brendon Hupp, Austin Young, Kevin Griffin, Derek Mo, Matt Heneghan and Nic Heringa out there making noise. Paul Machnau has helped us put together our skate program with guys like Russ Milligan, John Hanlon, Chad Dickson, Brandon Del Bianco, Gab Touchette and Cephas Benson. Last summer we launched into wake with the help of Dylan Miller, Dustin O’Ferrall, Yannick Thibault and Braden Ioi. Our team has been gaining steady exposure for us through online and print content. Thanks guys! In general we keep our marketing pretty grass roots working closely with retailers and what they’re doing for their local communities. Follow us @iseyewear on instagram and like us on facebook.com/iseyewear to keep on top of what we’re up to.
Check out the full I/S EYEWEAR brand feature at www.sbcbusiness.com