- The Pasadena eyewear startup has found a market with healthcare workers and is looking to expand with a new investment from Santa Monica-based Chernin Group.
Safety glasses are generally anything but elegant. But just as direct-to-consumer brands FIGS and Clove brought sophistication and style to medical scrubs and healthcare footwear, respectively, Stoggles is looking to spice up its own boring niche.
“We are the FIGS for faces,” according to Rahul Khatri, co-founder of the Pasadena-based safety eyewear brand. Stoggles – a playful combination of the words “style” and “eyewear” – has resonated with shoppers who work in medical fields who are tired of wearing bulky goggles during surgery or patient care. patients. The company offers a stylish and trendy look in bright colors like lilac, coral red and mint green, as well as prescription lenses and bifocals.
On Wednesday, Stoggles announced a $40 million growth fundraising round led by Los Angeles-based investment firm The Chernin Group, which focuses on consumer brands in media and technology. (Among Chernin’s investments are West Hollywood-based neo-bank Dave and Pasadena-based youth sports streaming service BallerTV.)
Stoggles, which is considering a new headquarters in Culver City or West Hollywood, generated more than $13.5 million in revenue last year, according to the company. The new funding will help the 15-person company triple its current workforce by the end of the year, Khatri said.
Stoggles co-founders Rahul Khatri and Max Greenberg.Image courtesy of Stoggles
The startup isn’t the first rodeo for Khatri and co-founder Max Greenberg, who met while students at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena in 2015. The following year, they launched Roav , a sports eyewear brand specializing in foldable and tall glasses. – performance sunglasses. While the startup raised $225,000 via crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, the concept never quite caught on as hoped in a fiercely competitive market for sunglasses. (Roav continues to operate with less than $1 million in annual sales, according to Khatri.)
The pandemic proved to be the catalyst for a new, separate venture from Roav for the duo. In mid-2020, after Greenberg showed Khatri an illustration he found on Instagram of a retro-looking pair of glasses, industrial designers agreed they could produce something better. Their creative doodle came as public health officials urged people to wear face shields to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19.
The confluence of events – illustration and the pandemic – led the two designers to the concept of goggles with a chic flair. Stoggles was launched last year after raising around $3.5 million through a crowdfunding campaign.
Now doctors and surgeons buy the brand’s goggles to protect their eyes from germs and fluids, firefighters use them to shield their eyes from smoke, and chefs use them to avoid tearing themselves while chopping onions. Stoggles glasses start at $39 each, although the price can rise to nearly $200 as prescription lenses with anti-fog coating and bifocals are added.
Stoggles could ramp up its business at an opportune time. According to a study by optical industry trade group The Vision Council, sales of frames and lenses in the United States began to rebound in 2021, after plunging in the first year of the pandemic in 2020.
Nearly 65 million pairs of frames and more than 72 million pairs of lenses were sold in 2020, compared to nearly 79 million pairs of frames and nearly 88 million pairs of lenses in 2019, according to the research. However, frame and lens sales showed significant growth in the first nine months of 2021, climbing 27% from the same period in 2020 and “in fact increasing.”[ing] above pre-pandemic levels,” according to Vision Council spokeswoman Hayley Rakus.
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