A few years ago, I stumbled upon a brand of sunnies called “Gage Sunglasses,” and, of course, I had to buy multiple pairs so I could rock my name with my wardrobe. During quarantine, I started increasing my social media game and began engaging with the brand more on Instagram, which turned into meeting the founder, Joe Engelmann, and now being friends with Joe!
Gage Sunglasses are affordable, super lightweight and they come in so many colors and styles (no lie, I have 8 pairs :)). I wear them when I’m at the pool, on a walk, working out, hanging out with friends, etc. They’re perfect for any kind of occasion. Oh, and the online community is pretty fun too! Check out my interview with my new friend:
What inspired you to create a sunglasses brand?
Hi Gage! I always knew that I wanted to start my own e-commerce site, and especially my own brand, but I didn’t want to do t-shirts or clothing apparel. I felt like everybody was doing that. After doing tons of research back in 2014, I saw an opportunity to market fun, affordable and colorful sunnies because there were only a handful of companies in that space. Since then, the competition has really picked up and there’s so many more options for consumers. But I’ve seen plenty of other companies come and go since I started in 2015, so we must be doing something right!
You definitely are! Now, on the real, I was attracted to your brand because my name is Gage! How did you come up with the name “Gage Sunglasses”?
Ha! Totally makes sense. It’s funny because I’ll get a lot of customer emails and messages with people saying something very similar. Unfortunately, I think my story won’t be as interesting as you’d hope. When I was away at college, a bunch of my friends moved off campus but I decided to stay on for one more semester, and the name of the dorm I lived in was Gage Hall. Since then, all my college buddies called me “Joey Gage”…so I thought using that for the business would be a cool idea. Like I said, not all that interesting! haha
“It really comes down to that mindset of staying on my #purpose and realizing the potential of what the brand could be years from now.” Joe Engelmann of @GageSunglasses via @GageGrammer #brandingTweet
I mean, you’re now a part of the Gage club, so welcome! How does where you are now, compare to where you thought you’d be 5 years ago?
I’m proud of where the company stands since I started it 5+ years ago. It’s still my “side hustle” as I do have a full time career in digital marketing here in NY. Of course, it would be a dream to work full time for myself and really build this thing into a giant force online, but as they say, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I’ve found that the more time I invest into it, the more the results come. So, it’s really come down to that mindset of staying on my purpose and realizing the potential of what the brand could be years from now.
Having a purpose and sticking with it is truly key to success, in my opinion. I can’t wait to see how it grows! What’s your favorite part of being a CEO of a consumer product?
It has to be the satisfaction I feel every time a customer posts a photo of themselves on social media wearing our sunnies. It’s so awesome to know that people put their trust in my company to order from us and to display it for the world to see. That feeling will never get old.
I love that response — and as one of your customers, I truly feel that way and I love your products! So what’s your secret passion?
It’s not so much of a secret among my friends and family, but I LOVE the outdoors. I spend a lot of time behind the computer for work so getting outside is key to my overall mindset. I grew up 15 minutes from the beach here on Long Island, NY, so that’s one of my favorite places to go, especially in the summer. I also love going on hikes in the mountains and breathing in that fresh air with the 360 degree views of the landscapes. Nothing beats that.
Getting outside when working remotely is honestly key to my happiness right now ha! I’d love to be near a beach though! How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Loyal. Evolving. Ambitious.
“I like to let them know they’re interacting with a real human and not just a company logo. Personal touches like that go a long way.” Joe Engelmann of @GageSunglasses via @GageGrammer #CX #marketingTweet
What’s your favorite part about engaging with your customers on social media?
This touches on what I mentioned earlier, but it’s having that back and forth engagement when they tag us in their photos, or leave comments and feedback on ours. Instagram has changed so much over the years and it’s become harder and harder to get the reach that we used to get from every post. So keeping engaged with our fans and interacting with them conversationally is really the key. I like to let them know they’re interacting with a real human and not just a company logo. Personal touches like that go a long way.
“It’s all about learning from those mistakes so you don’t continue to make them over and over again. And to not be afraid of change or of failure.” Joe Engelmann of @GageSunglasses via @GageGrammer #career #leadershipTweet
You’re absolutely right and I mean, that’s how we bonded! I’m curious, what’s something you’ve learned in your career that you’ve held on to inspire you to keep pushing forward?
That there’s going to be ups and downs, and mistakes are going to happen. This is something I’ve learned both in my career and personal life. It’s all about learning from those mistakes so you don’t continue to make them over and over again. And to not be afraid of change or of failure. I took the risk of starting my own business when a lot of people didn’t get it…they were like “you’re selling sunglasses?” But they didn’t understand and I had the belief in myself and a goal to strive towards. It’s become one of the best investments – not only financially, but in myself – that I’ve ever made. You just having to keep pushing forward.
“The most difficult #career decision I’ve made was to move on from a place where I felt ‘comfortable’ (never a good thing) and challenging myself to find new opportunities.” Joe Engelmann of @GageSunglasses via @GageGrammer #leadershipTweet
I love everything about that response! Last question — what is one of the most difficult decisions you’ve made in your career and what did you learn from it?
This is a tough one! I know first hand what it’s like to be really unhappy at a job, and feeling undervalued for everything I brought to the table. I stayed at a previous employer for way too long with all those feelings just bundling up over time. Then, I finally had the breakthrough moment of getting after it and landing a really great career elsewhere with so much potential to move up. So, to answer your question, it was to move on from a place where I kind of felt “comfortable” (never a good thing) and challenging myself to finding new opportunities. I’ve learned so much in my time at my new employer because I’m surrounded by so many talented people. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Stay tuned for the next interview and, as always, thanks for reading ❤ — Gage Grammer
One thought on “Going Ahead with Gage: Interview with Joe Engelmann, Founder of Gage Sunglasses”
Really enjoyed reading your interview! And your sunglasses are awesome! Kudos to Joe