When Satellites and Sunglasses Collide: A Q&A Revo CEO Cliff Robinson
Brands x Better is a coalition of like-minded companies fostering stability in a time of crisis. We asked 10 members of the Brands x Better family a few questions about what they do, why they were drawn to BxB and what this pandemic has meant to their company. First up is performance sunglasses brand, Revo. We caught up with CEO Cliff Robinson to hear more about Revo's story, their mission, and the greatest adventure a pair of their sunglasses have ever been on. Here's what he had to say.
Revo had a fascinating start. Tell us how your company came to be. What is your origin story?
We like to say that Revo was born in a NASA research lab in the late 80s! The full story includes a NASA astrophysicist, Dr. Mitch Ruda, who was working on a project to protect satellites from the harsh rays of the sun. He also happened to be an avid skier who knew firsthand how dangerous the sun could be to the eyes. He had a simple idea: what if he used the technology behind the coatings that protect satellites on sunglasses to protect our eyes. With that revolutionary idea, Revo was born.
What are your company’s core values?
Revo’s core values are heritage, performance, and passion. To us, heritage is celebrating our history as the first-ever performance eyewear brand. Performance represents our focus on consistently pursuing new technologies. The value most near and dear to our heart is passion; from the brand’s inception to the present day, our passionate community has always driven us and been the core of the brand.
Do you have a mission statement? If so, what is it?
It’s not exactly a mission statement, but we love to say, “We went to space to create the best lens on Earth.” It’s a simple way to celebrate our technology-roots and remind everyone that we offer a best-in-class visual experience.
At Rhone we talk a lot about our customer’s pursuit of progress. How do you feel like you as a company help your customer progress?
We love that sentiment. At Revo, we encourage everyone to get outside and experience life. Whether that means kayaking, golfing, strolling down the street, or skiing in Antarctica, Revo offers style and protection for your eyes. Our lens technology improves your view, whatever the view.
What motivated you to join Brands x Better?
As a smaller, independently-owned brand, Revo is acutely aware of the challenges we’re collectively facing. We also believe, as a community, we have the ability to envision and enact change. Brands x Better and its mission to foster stability and give back in this time of crisis really resonated with our team and it is our hope that Revo can play a role, however small, in providing assistance to those who need it most.
As a member of Brands x Better, you have pledged to donate 10% of your proceeds until May 1. What charity are you donating to and how and why did you choose that charity?
We’ve chosen to support Meals on Wheels, specifically their COVID-19 Response Fund. Their focus is on helping keep local communities across the country safe and healthy. We’re so proud of their work for some of our most vulnerable Americans.
If you had one piece of advice to give to young entrepreneurs what would you say to them?
I would have answered this question somewhat differently 30 days ago. Pre-Coronavirus, I would have said (and still believe) that you need to follow your passion and provide a product or service or idea that brings true value to the marketplace. Today, I would add to this that you MUST be honest and vulnerable with your team. People want to follow a good leader, and a good leader is always open and honest and will admit when they are scared or don’t have all the answers. I have very much re-learned this in the past 30 days.
What’s one of the hardest obstacles you’ve overcome as a company and how did it shape what your company is today?
In terms of obstacles, that is a very timely question. Maybe we answer this in 2 months? There has never been an obstacle like the one we are facing today and I think this crisis will make us more focused, more humble, and more aware of what is actually important.
What’s one takeaway you’ve had as a company during this recent pandemic?
One key takeaway is the importance of partnership. We’ve been trying to be supportive of everyone on our team, internal, external, really all stakeholders from vendors to staff to the consumer. We’ve been focused on respectful engagement up and down the line, another reason why we loved the Brands x Better initiative from the start. This type of community partnership is what Revo is all about and the opportunity to do it with a group of like-minded brands and sharing the vision with our consumers has been a true bright spot during this time.
What’s your favorite product you’ve ever made and why?
For me, as a music lover, our Vision over Visibility collaboration with Bono will always be a highlight. He’s a poet, a style icon, and also a true humanitarian on every level. The opportunity to collaborate with him was definitely an all-time favorite moment.
In the current collection, the 1985 glass frames are also a favorite. It’s the original Revo lens that was coveted back in the day and the styles couldn’t look better. We’re also proud of the new Eco collection – it’s our first time using sustainable material and not only do they look great, but they’re also biodegradable and eco-friendly to boot.
What’s the craziest adventure a pair of your sunglasses have ever been on?
Take your pick – on the first ascent of the Shark Fin route on Meru peak, on the first free solo ascent of El Capitan…or on stage with Bono!