Greats, the online sneaker brand, has raised $10 million in a Series B round of financing.
JH Partners, which also invests in companies including Bare Escentuals, Alex and Ani and J.McLaughlin, led the round with additional investment from Eric Zinterhofer of Searchlight Capital Partners, Resolute Ventures and retired NFL star Adrian Wilson, among others. Greats raised a $4 million Series A in 2015 and a seed round of $1.5 million in 2014.
“They were good partners for us,” said Ryan Babenzien, who founded the Brooklyn-based company in 2013. “And we are fortunate they are a real value-added investor and specialize in our space.”
Babenzien said the brand will use the investment to grow out the team, produce more inventory and double down on retail. Over the past three years, Greats has tested temporary spaces. It recently closed its shop in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg that was open for a year. Now it is focused on opening 10 pop-ups over the next two years in key cities throughout the U.S.
“We know that we need to provide a place for our customers to go try on product, but we don’t think retail real estate has caught up with the market itself. Traditional street traffic isn’t as valuable as it used to be. There is no discovery anymore,” said Babenzien. “We are taking a more measured approach and signing temporary leases. We think that’s the right way to go.”
Babenzien was mum about specific details for these pop-ups, but said customers can expect unique programming and services that shoppers should find in a luxury environment.
“Our customer wants convenience. We aren’t offering only one way to purchase product. You will be able to go into the space and have it delivered in an hour or within two days. Or you can buy it directly from the store. That flexibility for the consumer is a luxury experience,“ said Babenzien.
Since launching around four years ago, Greats has been on a steady upward trajectory. It has had partnerships with Mr Porter and Nordstrom; hired Rachael Ulman, a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. merchandiser, as president and chief operational officer, and introduced women’s, which makes up 30 percent of sales. It has also collaborated with Nick Wooster and Lardini, along with Marshawn Lynch and Orley.