Speak to the importance of pushing the envelope and staying true to the vision of what you set out to build within a market is ripe for disruption?
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Ryan: We didn’t necessarily set out to disrupt the industry, but more so, we wanted to create a model that put the power into the hands of our community. We built a very engaged community that united around this idea of inclusivity and collaboration. So much of what we’re doing is driven by them. From our pLAE It Forward program, to the products we create and how we engage is the byproduct of listening to and engaging our community. That’s where true innovation and disruption comes from — listening to the community and being open to new ideas. For example, we put out a growth-spurt guarantee, which in the kids business was extremely controversial.
That started with people questioning how we could do that, to then trying to follow suit. That’s why I honestly believe the biggest challenge is listening. Listening is the hardest thing, especially as a creative, because you have a vision of what you’d like to do, but you have to take a step back and really observe the opinions of people who are wearing and ultimately contributing to what you’re trying to build. That’s even more difficult for established companies. Unless you’re starting something new, it’s nearly impossible. The need for new companies existing is primarily for that purpose alone; being community-driven, as opposed to the traditional top-down model. We’re flipping the whole model upside down, and although we’re still figuring it out, we have the benefit of group-think to help design the new model.
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Jonathan: The basis of innovation is challenging the status quo. When you think about the categories people try to fit things into, from age to gender, what allows you to break those categories is confidence. What has given us that confidence is our community. When we put something out into the community and they really respond to it, it reinforces the need and relevance of our model. Together, as a community, we’re creating products that reflect the interests of everyone.