Kasey Skala frames WYCO as a Kansas City brand ready to look beyond county or state boundaries, he said.
“I think it’s great that we started here in the Midwest. We’re proud of being a Midwest brand, growing it here and taking [advantage of] what Kansas City has to offer,” said Skala, WYCO chief marketing officer, noting parallels to fellow KC brands like Charlie Hustle and Baldwin. “[They] started here in Kansas City and they’ve really grown beyond the Kansas City market, but their roots are still here.”
Though the customizable sunglasses brand now ships across the U.S., WYCO plans to stay true to KC, said Skala. Kansas City’s hard-working culture and support of local businesses makes it easy to keep its headquarters local, he said.
WYCO Sunglasses are built with interchangeable, colored pieces, which provide day-to-day personalization — a feature nonexistent in other brands, he said.
“You coordinate shoes, you coordinated outfits … then typically you’re stuck with the traditional, expensive pair of black sunglasses or cheap sunglasses,” Skala said. “So we wanted to create affordable sunglasses that allow you to customize it based upon your personality and your style.”
WYCO sunglasses now feature a universal square shape and are catered primarily toward men, he said, but the brand plans to release new shapes and sizes, targeting women and children.
The company’s value proposition is completely different from luxury brands like Ray Bans and Sunglass Hut, which together control 80 percent of the sunglasses market, said Skala. With WYCO’s interchangeable design, getting two pairs of WYCO sunglasses is like getting eight different pairs of the other brands, he said.
“We’re not competing with the luxury market. We don’t want to be Ray Bans, we’re not trying to compete with them,” Skala said. “Our focus is less on price and more on the customization and personalization. Our long-term plan is to expand the product line into different types of interchangeable fashion accessories and apparel.”
Windholz began the venture as a side project in 2013, but couldn’t find the right business partner to put in time and commitment, he said, and sold it to Skala, Wray, and Cooper to provide proper attention it needed.
Wray and Cooper work as strategic advisors and provide entrepreneurial-related expertise from their experience across various Kansas City businesses, said Skala, who works on the ideas and operations side.
“They understood the concept and the product and went through the sale,” Windholz said.“They’re really pushing strong and it’s exciting to see that brand grow. Now hopefully I can look back and be like, you know, I started that and they’ve grown it to be something really, really big.”