“I want to do this whole thing different.” - Lil Dicky ft. Snoop Dog, Professional Rapper
The intro to my college essay was “I will not be a sheep.” My siblings made fun of me ruthlessly. They still do, actually. I applied for and got into the engineering and computer science program at UC Santa Barbara, which is notoriously difficult to get into. But I only ever applied because I heard that at the time, less than 20% of the program was made up of women. Turns out, numbers are not my forte, and sitting in front of a computer all-day did not tickle my fancy.
Not too long after dropping engineering, I dropped out of college entirely. My family was astounded watching me walk away from my collegiate athletic career after working tirelessly towards the singular goal of being recruited at a D1 school. But the path didn’t feel quite my own, and so I strayed despite the many years of dedicated effort.
Lil Dicky, quoted above, was in marketing. He had a good job, but similarly, the guard rails that guided him down the road of commercial marketing felt too narrow. He was an artist and coloring between the lines of what was appropriate at work didn’t suit him. As a musician and the long-time office funny guy, he quit dramatically to pursue a career in a genre that didn’t even exist: comedic rap.
Lil Dicky, AKA Dave Burd, created a lane for himself in a highly competitive and established market by rapping about relatable nuances that countered rap culture in a comedic fashion. Your mainstream rap artists at the time rapped about spending money lavishly, smoking weed, and getting laid. Lil Dicky rapped about saving money, the difficulties of getting a little too high, and how his penis looks weird.
The comedic aspect aside, Lil Dicky is a talented artist. But he knew he couldn’t be competitive or authentic in the rap market the way that it was. So he created his own niche and built a career by going against the grain. That career was a launching point for his hit show Dave, written and produced by Dave Burd, which according to FX, was the most popular show in FX history.
Ok, you get it. I am a fan of Lil Dicky. As someone who follows comedy closely and with a deep appreciation for music, understanding (on the surface) the difficulty in the precision of the flow and meter of rap, Lil Dicky is easy for me to love. No, I wouldn’t put him up against any of the greats. But he is in his own lane, and therefore he succeeds.
I find that inspiring and relatable, especially as someone who once risked it all to pursue the niche sport of ultra trail running. While I was very good on the collegiate circuit as a track athlete, I would have never been great. So I forged my own way and combined my two greatest loves: running and the outdoor industry. Voila, a new lane where I succeeded and thrived.
That is what we are trying to do here at Method Seven. We cannot put ourselves up against the greats of the sunglasses industry, like Oakley, Maui Jim, or even Goodr, and hope to succeed. But we are ok with that because Method Seven does not make sunglasses. We create highly specialized eyewear designed to perform under niche conditions. Our product may be stylish, but it is not an accessory. We are a piece of gear, just like a pair of shoes or a hydration vest, tailored to optimize trail and ultra running performance. There isn’t any other product that exists like that on the market. Like Dicky, we are creating our own lane.
When asked in a recent survey, the participants of the M7 Trail Series overwhelmingly stated that affordability was the most critical factor in purchasing eyewear. However, those same participants listed not being able to see in varied conditions -under the shade of trees, looking at the watch, in exposed sunshine - as a massive shortcoming in their current eyewear.
Since starting at Method Seven, I have been grappling with how exactly we convey the importance and the difference these high-performance optics can make. What would a trail runner pay for a durable piece of eyewear that you don’t have to take off dawn to dusk, regardless of the conditions or coverage? One that actually enhances your vision in these conditions.
I would have never dreamed of paying anything more than $30 for a pair of sunglasses, but I also had never tried a pair of sunglasses, in any price range, that was worth more than that to me. And so I had headaches from sun exposure, the sunglasses lived on my head and eventually ended up in a landfill. This baffles me especially considering the thousands of dollars sunk into equipment to aid in my running performance over the years.
These ramblings are just to say that we are different and want to be great in our own right. And we are still putting the guardrails in place to do so, forging the lane to best cater to this niche market of ultra trail running. It is redundant, but figuring out how to do this is a process that sometimes requires really driving the point home, so we don’t lose it.
To help us in our process, sign up for the M7 Trail Series. We’ve extended the end date to December 31st to include more participants and to get to know the community a little better. Our pro athlete Avery Collins will be running a 50k at the end of the month in a last-ditch effort to raise money to maintain some of his local trails in Silverton, CO, through the trail series. We are raffling off our first round of prizes at the end of the workday today, December 13th, so there is still time to win a pair of pilot shades, a sample pack of Muir Energy, and some Bu specialty sunscreen. At the end of the event on December 31st, we will select a team of beta testers to help us test prototypes, give feedback, and work closely with Avery, Method Seven CEO, and the designers.
Check back next week to hear more about our Beta Team and where we are in the design process. And follow our new Instagram page @methodseventrail to stay up to date on product development and all Method Seven shenanigans. We promise to be somewhat entertaining and to do this whole thing different.
Cat, out! See you next Monday for my musing.