Featured DNVB: Knockaround Sunglasses
DNVB List: Hey, thanks for chatting with us!
Knockaround (Adam “Ace” Moye, CEO): You bet, we dig what you guys are doing, it’s cool! Like your mission says, there’s a lot of brands out there so it’s tough for consumers to find the great ones, and tough for companies to get customers because online advertising is a crowded space.
DNVB List: That’s exactly right, we think we’re a win-win for both sides. So tell us more about Knockaround, how did it get started?
Knockaround: Well, I grew up in the Virginia suburbs of DC and graduated from University of Virginia with a Studio Art degree. I decided to double-down on art and get a graduate degree which led me to the Visual Art program at UC San Diego. So in 2005 I made the cross-country trek and have been in SD ever since.
DNVB List: San Diego, the land of year round sunshine and an annual average temperature of 65 degrees!
Knockaround: You know it! Honestly, the sun in San Diego was one of the drivers to start the business, probably the first one actually. Secondly though, I had recently lost an expensive pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer’s.
DNVB List: Ugh, who hasn’t lost a nice pair of sunglasses?!
Knockaround: Right?! So I was all of the sudden living in this place with constant sunshine, had just lost my shades, and always wanted to start a business. That’s really how it started. I thought it would be a fun adventure to see if I could make it happen.
DNVB List: Nice, and where did “Knockaround” come from?
Knockaround: It was just the name that had been bouncing around my head for a while. My dad used it a lot when I was growing up. Honestly, had I started a different business, I might’ve still used that name, it just happened to be sunglasses.
DNVB List: Well, the name works, for sure. How did you finance the business initially?
Knockaround: I pulled $500 from savings, placed an order for some cheap promotional sunglasses, set up a very basic website, and just started hawking sunglasses to college kids on campus at UCSD.
DNVB List: So it was the stereotypical “selling stuff out of your trunk” kinda thing?
Knockaround: Yep. For the first few years, I really treated the entire thing as more of a hobby. Since I was a full-time student, there wasn’t much pressure to have Knockaround “pay the bills”, so it definitely benefitted from all that runway to get up and going.
DNVB List: I imagine it was an excellent source of beer money :)
Knockaround: Haha, definitely!
DNVB List: For people that aren’t familiar, can you tell us more about the company, what it is, what it offers, what it’s all about, the mission, etc.?
Knockaround: Yeah, Knockaround is a fun-loving, creative company that sells affordable sunglasses. They make you happy, and that idea has emerged as a guiding light for us. As a customer you’ll be happy you got a great pair of sunglasses and didn’t need to spend hundreds of dollars. Even if you do lose them, you’ll still feel OK because you won’t need to take out a loan to replace them.
We release cool and quirky special releases we put out each month and you’ll be stoked reading our emails and social media because we have fun with it and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
DNVB List: Nice, I like that. I came across the peacock-frame sunglasses recently. Those are rad!
Knockaround: Yeah, love those! Who knew a peacock feather pattern would look so great on a pair of sunglasses?!
DNVB List: How have you built the “brand”? Not just the business and the numbers, but the brand and the name?
Knockaround: The soul of a company is hard to fake. We’ve been cultivating that soul for 12 years now. That’s longer than any other affordable sunglasses company in the business.
DNVB List: Wow, congrats, that’s a long time no matter how you slice it. Just being around for 12 years has to be one of your biggest accomplishments, right?
Knockaround: Oh, definitely. The successes and failures kind of blur together into one long roller coaster ride. There’s ups and downs and smiles and frowns. Luckily there’s been more ups and smiles for us. And I’d say we’ve done that through our collaborations with other brands we like, projects we’ve put together, and more. Some of it too is just the multiple years worth of content we’ve shared with our fans and customers.
DNVB List: How has the company grown over those 12 years?
Knockaround: It’s grown steadily, which, frankly, is how I’d prefer to do it. It’s gone from just me, solo, packing orders in my garage, to now a team of 18 people. We’ve been profitable since 2005, have a growing list of great press mentions and celebrities that rock our shades from Natalie Portman to Matthew McConaughey. Continuing to grow is paramount to me.
DNVB List: Well alright, alright, alright! Sorry, that was a bad Matthew McConaughey impression.
Knockaround: Ha, I’ve heard worse.
DNVB List: Thanks, that makes me feel better. We’re almost halfway through the year already, but what’s the biggest goal for 2017?
Knockaround: We’re really focused on making the customer experience the best in the e-comm world. That means faster shipping times, quicker customer service responses, better packaging, easier returns, and more.
DNVB List: That’s fantastic! One of the ways that today’s DNVB’s (digitally-native vertical brands) like Knockaround can compete against the likes of Amazon or brick-and-mortar retail is exactly that, a maniacal focus on the customer experience. If you can get that right, you’ve got a good chance!
Knockaround: Yup, couldn’t agree more.
DNVB List: What would you say to someone who is considering starting a startup but are a bit afraid of taking that leap?
Knockaround: There are so many tools out there nowadays that technically make it pretty easy to get an e-comm business up and running. Shopify, for instance. I think where most people talk themselves out of starting a new business is when they’re coming up with an idea and a name. That’s when it starts to get real. At that point it just comes down to personal confidence. Are you confident in your idea and the name? If the answer is yes, and you’re passionate about making it work, everything else just might fall into place.
DNVB List: Well, it’s a cool story, Adam, we appreciate you telling us more about Knockaround and how it got started.
Knockaround: You bet, I’ll be keeping my eye on DNVB List. There are some cool brands on there that I’d never seen before. Not to mention I can keep my eye on the eyewear category to check up with our competition!
DNVB List: Good call! Thanks again, and you stay classy in San Diego,
Knockaround: Yes, you gotta end with the Ron Burgundy quote.
DNVB List: Had to!