Get to know the uniquely-durable and salt water-friendly sunglasses from Rheos in this deep dive with Founder Jake Berton.
About Rheos Sunglasses
Charleston, South Carolina-based Rheos crafts innovative sunglasses for adventure. The stylish menswear startup has engineered its sunglasses to float, thanks to their polarized nylon lenses, and are salt-water resistant, which makes them uniquely well-suited for fishing, boating and the beach.
The name Rheos comes from the Greek word for river current. Heraclites, the ancient Greek philosopher, wrote that “no man steps in the same river twice for he’s not the same man and it’s not the same river.” Rheos’ ethos is informed by the idea that “every day we wake up with new memories and new experiences and a new world to explore,” says Founder and CEO Jake Berton.
At about $65, Rheos floating nautical sunglasses are are an excellent affordable men’s sunglasses option to protect your eyes on your next adventure.
“Off Screens and Into People’s Lives”
CEO Jake Berton founded Rheos to prevent people from losing sunglasses to a “watery grave.” In an interview, he said that Rheos’ current mantra is “off screens and into people’s lives.”
When Jake started his first business in 2008, it was a marketing agency. Within a few years, he was working with some of the largest brands in the world like the NFL, with Powerade at the 2012 Olympics, and with Harley Davidson for their 110th Anniversary. Back then, he was focused on creating digital experiences to augment or replace live events as the world of social media “was young and undiscovered.”
Then came the pandemic, when the world relied heavily on digital experiences.
The team at Rehos believes that, as we continue to unwind from COVID, people are “hungry and craving more human experiences.”
Jake added that, “it has been such a treat to engage with our local community in Charleston and the greater Southeast region through events,” which have included everything from local cleanups and environmental stewardship to family fun days at a local resort.
Helping People Fall in Love With the Water
Rheos also partners with nonprofit organizations, “who have the experience to teach us and our community about how to care for our outdoor spaces, especially those on and around our waterways.”
“At Rheos, our #1 job is to help people fall in love with the water so they want to protect it,” Jake told me. “And in that moment we can introduce that community to experts who help us care for it best,” he added.
This is the First Item You Should Try, According to Rheos’ Founder
I asked Jake what is the first pair of sunglasses he would recommend for someone who doesn’t know Rheos.
He told me that he’s learned over the years that eyewear is an extremely personal and delicate decision. What you wear depends on what you’re going to use them for (driving vs. vishing vs. everyday wear), the size of your face and spread of your temple and nose, and your style preferences.
So instead of landing on one option, he suggested four starting points for Rheos newbies:
- Coopers or Narrow Coopers – Rheos founder recommends the Coopers, which are available in regular and narrow widths, as the best unisex option for all around sport, water and everyday wear.
- Stono is Jake’s favroite option for a fashion-forward look from Rheos’ newest Tidewater collection.
- Cora – Jake recommends Rheos’ Cora sunglasses “for making a statement with bright mirrored lenses.”
- Reedy – Jake likes Rheos’ Ready model “to wear from boat to bar to your next deep sea fishing trip.”
“Plan Your Dive and Dive Your Plan”
I asked Jake to tell me about the most important thing that he has learned since launching Rheos and how has it changed your approach to the business. He told me that:
The most important thing I’ve learned since starting Rheos comes from one of my favorite activities — which I do less now than I did before we had 2 kids! — scuba diving.
There are a few rules in scuba: never hold your breath, go up slow, and have fun. But the most important advice I get from scuba that applies to business? Plan your dive and dive your plan.
Many times throughout the life of a small business you’re faced with tough choices, big challenges and moments of elation hidden in between. It’s easy to get caught up in whether it was a good day or a bad day, a good month or a bad month, a good year or bad year.
But I always find it important to rephrase that ask: Are you on plan or off plan? If you’re on plan are there opportunities to accelerate. Off-plan? Then how to diagnose or adjust. That helps to moderate the highs and lows and to separate the emotions from those moments of discovery and decision-making.
A solid plan, even if it’s simple, gives you a guiding light to follow. The only thing we know about the plan is it is never 100% right; so don’t be afraid to take in new information and adjust your plan accordingly.Jake Berton, Founder and CEO, Rheos
He told me that the other most important lesson he’s learned is that, “it is all about the people — The people on your team, the vendors you partner with, and the customers you serve.” Choosing the right people, he notes, “is so critical to the success and enjoyment of the business you’re in.”
What to Wear with Your Rheos Sunglasses? Check Out these “Killer” Apparel Brands
So what should you wear with your Rheos sunglasses? I asked Jake one of my favorite questions: Who are some of your favorite stylish brands out there?”
Jake pointed to a couple of companies that would pair well with Rheos’ shades:
“Free Fly Apparel is based out of Charleston and has been a favorite for shirts, shorts and pants for years,” he said, adding “unquestionably because of the comfort.”
Jake recommended Howler Brothers as “another killer apparel brand.”
Incorporating Feedback and Sunglasses R&D
So what’s on the horizon for Rheos?
“At our core,” Jake said, “Rheos is built around the concept of constant improvement.”
He and his team are taking in lessons, learnings and feedback, seeking opportunities to “incorporate nearly 7 years of feedback in launching new silhouettes with ever-nearer to perfection of fit, feel and style as well as enhanced performance.”
Rheos is also “diving deep into R&D with our lens partners to design and outfit just the right lenses for different use cases adjusting contrast, color and VLT (visual light transmission, or how light or dark your sunglasses are) to maximize the visual experience.”
“It’s so dialed in,” Jake says, that “it’ll feel like a custom fit pair of sunglasses. We’ve thought through every single detail of the frames, fit and lens, so look forward to a whole new Rheos” in the years to come.
About JakeJake is an expert on men’s style and fashion based in Washington, DC. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs and innovative clothing and lifestyle brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. He has published hundreds of articles on style and apparel, and regularly interviews small business CEOs and startup founders about industry trends. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine.
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