Greats

Greats cofounder and chief executive officer Ryan Babenzien has stepped down.

“After almost seven rewarding years, I’ve decided to step down as the ceo of Greats,” Babenzien said on Instagram Wednesday.

“I never thought about what it would be like to write those words until recently, but after thinking about what’s important to me, what I enjoy doing and what I’m good at, I have come to the realization that it is time to let someone else guide the company and for me to move on from my role as ceo at Greats.”

Babenzien cofounded Greats in 2013 and led the company in its growth, which included multimillion-dollar funding rounds and collaborations with Nick Wooster, Lardini and Death to Tennis, among others. The lifestyle brand Steve Madden acquired the company in 2019 for an undisclosed sum and Babenzien remained as ceo following the acquisition.

Babenzien had spoken to WWD twice during the pandemic. He said the business was doing well, but was cautious about the future. He also praised e-commerce for its convenience, which Greats mostly benefited from as a digitally native brand with 90 percent of the business being online. He told WWD in May that April was Greats’ “best sales month this year.”

“I set out to create a footwear brand that lives well beyond me, whether I’m the ceo or not,” he continued on his Instagram post. “I believe that we have established the foundation for Greats to not only continue on but to flourish and succeed without me. Greats has set many firsts and achieved many milestones; building Greats has been more gratifying than I ever imagined it would be when we started the company.

“I need everyone to understand that this decision comes after months of reflection on my personal goals and at no cost to my support for the future of the brand. I am Greats’ number-one fan and I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had in building a brand that consumers love and support. It’s been an honor to work with everyone who is part of the Greats family, both current and prior, immediate and extended and I am looking forward to cheering for Greats’ continued success.”

When reached, Babenzien declined to comment further, and Steve Madden did not respond to a request for comment on its plans to replace the executive.

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