What makes some product brands thrive where others struggle to gain traction? How do certain names in fashion and design capture the public imagination and skyrocket to success in just a few years? Ryan Simkhai, founder and CEO of Ryan Simkhai Eyeshop, provides a study on how a positive mindset and creativity can lead to entrepreneurial success. His vision and his company prospered through a willingness to embrace the future while paying tribute to the past.
Los Angeles native Simkhai founded Ryan Simkhai Eyeshop in 2019 as a boutique eyewear brand. The company’s eyewear includes readers, sun readers and sunglasses with blue light protection, and each comes in an array of trendsetting styles and color combinations. Customers can also make their personal statement with unique textures and materials such as metals, vegan leathers and vinyls. Sold nationwide at boutique and chain stores alike, the eyewear brand proved explosively popular. Within just a few years, Simkhai’s eyewear brand was featured by The View, ABC’s Good Morning America and among “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”
Still, astute entrepreneurs and solopreneurs may have other questions. How was he able to build a successful brand in such a short time? What drives him, and what advice does he have for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow? We spoke with Simkhai to find answers.
Simkhai finds ethical motivation in his family.
Born and raised in Los Angeles to a family of global game-changers and fashion trendsetters, Simkhai says this family heritage is one he had to live up to. His father introduced him to fashion at a young age with numerous beauty supply stores throughout southern California. His cousins found success, too, in the fashion and tech industries. But Simkhai says his greatest inspiration for lasting success goes back three generations to his grandfather in Iran.
“My grandfather played a major role in modernizing Iran in the prerevolution days of the 1950s and 60s,” Simkhai says. “Along with his brothers, he owned and operated the largest plastic manufacturing company in the nation. He played a major role in bringing new ideas to the country.”
As a developer, manufacturer and exporter to the West, Simkhai says his grandfather did more than run a successful company and build a family name. He created wealth and opportunity for his country while building a name for his family and connections across the globe.
And while some children and grandchildren of successful entrepreneurs may struggle to live up to their family names, Simkhai saw things differently. He took family success as a motivational challenge to live up to. He accepted the challenge to build his brand.
As Simkhai says, “My family background plays a big part in who I am today. I never needed outside advice. My grandfather and his brother played huge motivational roles in guiding me to who I am today.”
Success requires passion, vision and teamwork.
Along with personal motivation, Simkhai believes a successful style brand requires passion, vision and teamwork. Most of all, the entrepreneur must reach deep to redefine the ordinary into something fun and exciting. Simkhai understood that people wear watches, bracelets, necklaces and earrings to make a personal statement.
“There was a time when people took a conservative approach to eyewear,” Simkhai says. “Today, you see bold styles with big, colorful frames. People want to be excited about what they wear. They want to make a public statement through the eyewear fashion they choose.”
Many people own more than one watch or bracelet. They may also own many pairs of earrings to suit an outfit or occasion. Similarly, owning more than one style of eyewear can help you make a personal statement suited to any occasion. A vintage or more conservative look may suit some occasions while other events call for bold, eye-grabbing colors and styles. Ryan Simkhai Eyeshop aims to meet these demands. The company offers sunglasses and sun readers for outdoors and blue-light blocking readers for long hours at the desk.
In each case, Simkhai takes a hands-on approach to his ever-expanding inventory. He applies both his own fashion sense as well as research and a knowledge of emerging fashion trends.
“I’m really big on vintage looks,” Simkhai says. “I love going through online images of celebrities of the past to bring some of those fashion trends back to life. Once we figure out the shapes and sizes, we implement our color combinations and fresh materials like velvet into our frames. We get pretty creative!”
Of course, Simkhai can’t do it all on his own. As an entrepreneur, he knows the value of teamwork and scouting for and hiring only the best of those who share his passion. For that, he gives his associates high praise.
“We’re very fortunate to have a really awesome creative team. I attend the design meetings, and it is a great joy to hash out ideas and innovate with such talented people,” he says.
Future vision: Simkhai has advice for tomorrow’s leaders.
Along with teamwork, Simkhai also knows the importance of community and future generations. He played point guard for a Los Angeles area high school, so he saw coaching as an opportunity to give back. For several years, coaching basketball at an area school provided him with the opportunity to motivate younger generations to find their inner strength and discipline and to pursue their dreams with confidence.
Simkhai likewise has high hopes for the next generation of professionals, trendsetters and entrepreneurs. As a business owner, he knows that even big companies began with a single vision. When that vision is creative, fun and exciting, people will gravitate toward it. But holding onto that vision requires perseverance, resilience and a positive mindset.
“Future entrepreneurs should always maintain a mindset of, ‘Why not me?’” Simkhai says. “They must never shy away from their ideas or their personal creativity. They have to go for it, work hard and remain humble. Then, good things will happen.”
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