With the threat of the COVID-19 outside, almost everyone is now shut inside their homes, migrating most of their daily routine online. One of the negative effects is the increase in the number of hours we use our devices, causing eye strain, and more. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton is joined by Gigi Mortimer, the founder of EyeJust—a company that focuses on creating a light block screen protector for all devices. She talks about how the blue light is disrupting our body’s circadian rhythm and explains the technology behind the solution she has created to help protect our eyes and sleep. Gigi also takes us across her career in the fashion industry and how she made a move to tech. Plus, she also lets us in on how she is handling her business and growing it towards even more success.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Gigi Mortimer here. She is the Founder of EyeJust. She’s the former Director of Design at Tory Burch and a lot of other places. She has done so much in the fashion industry. She’s switched her focus to EyeJust, which is a light block screen protector for all devices like iPhones, tablets and laptops. She’s doing well with this company. I’m excited to have her on the show.
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EyeJust: Protecting Your Eyes From Blue Light With Gigi Mortimer
I am here with Gigi Mortimer, who is the CEO of EyeJust. She’s also the former Director of Design at Tory Burch. She’s an entrepreneur who created EyeJust Light Block Screen Protector for all devices, phone tablets and laptops, you name it. It’s exciting to have you here, Gigi.
I am thrilled to be chatting with you and telling you a little bit about EyeJust, my company and the whole mission.
I’m looking forward to that because I would like to know more. I’ve seen what I’ve seen online. I do want to let people know we know each other, which is interesting. I think you might be the first relative I’ve had on the show. I looked up exactly what we are. We’re first cousins once removed because my first cousin is your mother. I’d met you once and it was wonderful because I grew up without a lot of my family and cousins around. I thought I was the only one who was interested in the business world. All of my immediate family is all interested in sports, English and grammar. No one cared about the business. It was so fun to talk to your mom and then you to both see how much of a business sense that you all got from our great grandparents who were business-minded. I want to get a little background on you. I touched on the fact that you worked at Tory Burch and that you’re doing this. Tell me how you led up to being a businesswoman like this. What’s your background?
I started my career in fashion because my mom thought that’s what I should do. She had a shop in Bermuda and I love doing that. I went to FIT. I studied in Paris and then ended up as a stylist and met Ralph Lauren, who was so small at the time that he put me in the accessories department because that’s the only place where there was an empty seat. I was about 21 at the time. I was the youngest person on his design team. Because I ended up in the accessories department, I was designing shoes, which you know is in our family gene. I started my career working in my grandfather’s shoe factory. I always loved working with people who were creating incredible things, whether it was shoes, handbags, glasses or hats.
I always loved digging in and working with factory workers and developing things. After Ralph, I was there for eleven years. I was a design director of accessories. I moved on to Tory Burch and helped her launch her Tory sport line. That’s how I started to get interested in technology. I went to a tech conference in San Francisco and I realized I was with my colleague who was from Germany. She was an amazing engineer. We were the only two women practically in the room. There were some men who were there who had a defibrillator and they could put it in a t-shirt but didn’t know how to make a t-shirt. I thought, “More women need to be involved in technology.”
I get a lot of tech people on the show and one of my first jobs was selling computers in 1985, believe it or not. I was one of the very few women in tech. I love tech, so I get a lot of women in tech discussions on the show. I want to touch on that. I want to touch on the shoe part since you’ve mentioned that. You said your grandfather, who was my uncle. I never got to visit the Hamilton shoe company in St. Louis. What was that like?
It was my first job. It was fantastic because I got to go to the design department. He was an amazing man. He created what was called the Slip Lash shoe, which was creating the shoe inside out so that it was more comfortable to wear and with fewer seeds. He mastered the old lady’s shoe. It’s a low heel and he made them super comfortable. He sold many of them. I’ll never forget. There was a time when he took me to China. We were walking along the Great Wall and he gives me a nudge and he goes, “There’s one of my shoes.” It was in China. I used to go around with my grandfather. He used to always take me to New York City. We would look at all the windows and he would show me all the shoes he liked. I would sketch them out and he’d go back to the factory and work with somebody in recreating it.
I didn’t know that you had that much exposure. I didn’t get to know your dad very well. I know that his father was the one who started all this shoe company, which is my great grandfather. It was an international shoe. Eventually, all the combination with Brown shoes and Hamilton shoes, and then Brown bought everybody out. It was supposed to be Browns. That’s the whole background. My mom always would tell me that I reminded her of your grandfather because of my business sense. I wish I’d known him more and I didn’t know him that well. I know he was considered very successful in the shoe business and that he was quite a genius then. Your mom inherited that sense of business acumen. She had a clothing store. She also did some show like this, didn’t she?
Yes. She used to do radio shows in Bermuda. She would talk about Bermuda, the island and houses on the island. She’s good at it.
I got to see her and I know that she and I have so much in common to talk about because we like the same things. I could see where you had this background. Where did you grow up? I know you live in New York now.
Because my parents were divorced, I grew up half in St. Louis and half in Bermuda. I ended up in New York because it’s halfway in between.
I would imagine that there are not a lot of women in tech, but there are a lot of women in fashion. Was it the same as so many women and so few men as the opposite of what tech is, or is it more evenly split up?
You’re right. There are a lot of women in fashion. There are more men now I think in fashion, but in tech, it’s very few women. That’s one of the reasons I love it because I like discovering new things. It’s a much more curious place. It’s like, “I’m out of my comfort zone a little bit.” It’s more fun.
As I was looking at some of the past things that you’ve done, when I hear the fashion industry though, I think a lot of people think women like Devil Wears Prada that it’s cutthroat and challenging. I have seen a lot of women designers and found it very interesting when I was out there. I saw your former boss Tory Burch speak in New York in 2019. I’ve seen your picture while I was there at the Forbes event. Isn’t it like what we think in the fashion industry or is that just over the hype of how cutthroat it is?
The Devil Wears Prada, the magazine industry and Condé Nast, that’s pretty cutthroat and emotional. I started my career there. There are a lot of emotional women in that area. I happen to be lucky. Ralph Lauren was one of the greatest bosses ever. He brought all of us in and he would nurture us. All of his licensee businesses were family businesses and his whole family was involved in the company. He took everybody under his wing. I think Tory is the same. She’s all about empowering women. I was lucky. I didn’t feel that cutthroat thing although I hear it did exist at some companies but it all comes from the top.
Culture is definitely at the top. We talk about that a lot in this show. It’s a huge thing. I know you work hard. I’ve seen some of the stuff you’ve done. People ask me this sometimes because I don’t necessarily have to work and you don’t have to work. What makes you want to work? You’ve got a bunch of kids, you can stay home. You’ve got them all in your house because of the COVID. When they were little, you didn’t have to do what you’ve done and I didn’t have to. What’s your motivation to want to work?The iPhone is almost like an extension of us. It is the ultimate accessory. We are on it 24/7. Click To Tweet
The interesting thing is I love my career in fashion. All of a sudden, I started noticing there was a change. Everyone in New York started walking around the streets staring at screens. I started realizing that the iPhone was almost like an extension of us. It was the ultimate accessory. We were on it 24/7, but it wasn’t as healthy as I wanted it for myself and my family. One night, my son was complaining about not sleeping. This is several years ago. Even though he was tired, he couldn’t go to bed. One night I peek in on him and I realized that after I turned out the lights, he’d snuck out his iPad and was watching movies under his covers.
When I took it away, he started sleeping better. I dove into this and I’m like, “Maybe this is what was keeping him up at night.” I read a study from Harvard that talked about the dark side of digital, which how blue light is triggering our brains to wake up no matter what time we look at it. It’s the blue light that comes off of their screens that keeps us up at night. It suppresses our melatonin and changes our body’s circadian rhythm. I started thinking, “What is this doing to my son’s sleep?” I knew how important sleep is for the developing mind, for human growth hormone, for our immune system. It’s everything. I worried about the cumulative effects of this light on my son’s eyes over his lifetime.
I was like, “Somebody has to do something about it.” I had designed eyewear for Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch for over twenty years. I was like, “I’ll make blue light blocking glasses so my son is never going to put on glasses every time he looks at his phone.” I had the a-ha moment of putting the blue light blocking technology directly into a screen protector. Not only do we protect your screens, but we protect your eyes, your sleep, and now they’ve come out and found out even your skin.
As you’re saying all that, I worked for AstraZeneca for twenty years and fifteen of them were in pharmaceutical sales. We studied the circadian rhythms and all that a lot, and all the facts that you’re talking about. I’ve never been able to sleep before and after. Anything that helps sleep at all, I’m all in for it because I think that that’s critical. Tell me how it works.
I have it on my phone. It blocks out the HEV, which are the High Energy Visible light rays from going into your eyes. I had made glasses, so I knew how to block UV light. It’s a lot like that. We embedded that technology using the blue light filter and we embedded it into the glass. The blue light blocking technology was originally developed by NASA. It was the welders who had the bright light. That’s how they developed the blue light blocking technology to protect their eyes and also to protect the astronauts going around and around who knew what time it was up in space or what day it is.
It’s a film that you’ve put over it.
It’s embedded into the glass.
How do you get it on your phone?
It’s like a screen protector. You get a screen protector to protect it. We took the strongest Japanese glass and we embedded the blue light blocking technology directly into the screen. The great thing is it doesn’t change the look or color of the screen. It’s bright. You can’t tell the difference. After we develop it, then I took it to test it because I wasn’t going to do this if I wasn’t the best blue light blocking technology out there.
I love the competitive nature.
I was at TechCrunch. In the booth right next to me was an ophthalmologist from UC Irvine. He was very curious about our screens and he said, “I’d love to test them. Give them to me, I’ll test them for free.” It was amazing. We found out that we blocked more blue light than any other screen protector on the market, like 30% at least. It was surprising to see how many of them actually didn’t block the blue light. It gets a little technical, but blue light is a large spectrum of light. There’s only a certain amount that is high energy visible light, which is damaging to the cells in your retina which disrupts your sleep. A lot of people measure it including the good blue light, which is not bad for you.
Some of the phones can have a certain amount of blocking and things, that light changing feature.
It’s f.lux and Night Shift. A lot of people don’t like them because they change the color of the screen. It turns into an amber color. I was at an event for a sleep tech award. We were at a sleep show in Houston. The man who developed Night Shift, whose name is Roy Raymann. He’s a scientific advisor to our board and our company. He is a huge fan of our product and it has been incredible. We’re working on a sleep study where we’re testing people who look at their phones before they go to bed and we’re testing them doing the same thing with EyeJust. We’re going to be announcing that in January 2021.
I’m interested always in the research behind stuff. What I find interesting is when people do manufacturing-based companies. You’ve got to build things and have production. Do you farm that out? How do you get things built without warehousing and all that?
What’s incredible is it’s never been easier because of this age that we’re in. They’re amazing 3PLs, which have the warehouse. There’s somebody else who does our social media, digital marketing and advertising. There’s never been an easier time to find specialists in certain fields and have a key group of essential employees who are dedicated to the mission. We find the right partners. I think technology has been amazing. We use a Shopify platform, QuickBooks and all of these.
How do you do the marketing? You’re good at social media and some of that stuff on your own. Do you do content calendars? Do you hire marketing departments? What part do you do internally and what part do you farm out?
I wish I wasn’t such a control freak but we do a lot in-house. We work with a team that would do our digital marketing advertising. The interesting thing is our customers are on the screens. What we’ve noticed is no one before COVID was all that aware of the effects of blue light. Now worldwide, we’re spending 30% more time on screens. Everybody’s feeling the effects. They’re getting tired eyes. At the end of the day, they have headaches and migraines. We are working with the migraine society. They love our product because it helps and makes a huge difference. We get amazing testimonials from our customers.
You can do this on any size screen. I went to your website and was looking around a little bit.
We started small because we wanted to have a proof of concept. We’ve been growing. We ship worldwide. We’re available on Amazon. We’re on Target. We’re talking to other big retail platforms. That’s where everyone is right now.
It is huge to get onto the major sites. Target is a hard one to get onto. I think that a lot of people obviously are going to look at Amazon first for just about everything. It’s an interesting time for all this technology. My husband being a doctor, he reads all the stuff about the causes of cancer, has the phone near you when you’re asleep. You shouldn’t have it near you when you sleep. You talk to everybody, but all these things are going to kill you eventually if you listened to everything. How do you know? I think the studies that you’re doing are important because you’re seeing. I like the quantitative data. I love to see the research. I think that anything we could do to make it better is critical, especially with kids and things because you don’t know the long-term results. If you put it on your computer, does it change what you see or is it like your phone where it’s nice?
I have to send you some. You have to tell me what your computer size is. It’s amazing on the computer. We started with the phone. Now we’re seeing that everybody’s on their computers. We also have Chromebooks. We’re launching Microsoft Surface. We have larger sizes of Chromebooks coming in. We’re getting bigger and bigger. It’s a great thing because you put it on your computer and you forget about it. You don’t have to remember to wear glasses all the time. It protects your skin and eyes. It doesn’t change the look or color of anything. Being an accessory designer, I always like simple solutions.
It is simple. It makes me wonder why if you can make it so clear on the computers, laptops and phones, why can’t they make it normal glasses that you put on that looked like that? Why do they make them all weird brown, blue and all of this?
The glasses? I don’t know. We’re also blocking the blue light right from the source. There are all sorts of other great things you can do if you’re feeling tired with your eyes. There’s the 20-20-20 rule. If you’re staring at a computer all day long, you’re supposed to look 20 feet away, every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. It helps. They’re seeing a lot more near-sightedness in children in China. A lot of that is because people are one, they’re looking down at screens. The other thing is, people are spending a lot more time indoors. In our generation, I was raised like, “Go run around.”
“Here’s a piece of chalk, have a good time. We’ll see you in a day.”
Now, everybody is socially engaged online. Our eyes developing the way they need because they need to see distances to stay healthy.
It is such a fun time to create innovative things. I love that you took the leap. It must be hard to leave the names of Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch and go off on your own. You have such connections. You know everybody and you’re a fixture in New York City. If they Google your name, you’re at every party or everything. How hard was it for you to think about doing this? What if it didn’t work? Did you have any sense of this is scary?
I love this question because I was at a time in my life where I didn’t care. I had a great career. You know when you have an idea and you can’t shake it and you keep thinking about it. I realized that if I didn’t do this, I was going to regret it when I was 80 years old. I thought about it and then I told my husband and that’s how I got my name. EyeJust is the name of my company. I know it’s crazy. I’m like, “I just have to do this.” He’s like, “Really? You’re going to go into tech?”
What does your husband do? I know I met him.
My husband is in finance. He sold his company. He’s taking care of all sorts of things.
Is he helping you with this at all or are you doing this on your own?
I’m doing it on my own, although he is interested in tech, but more from an investing standpoint. I think what’s fun is, I’m in it deep because I’m on all these platforms. I love Shopify and Shopify is incredible with investment.
Do you want to get bought out? Would you like it if Apple decided to take this on?You can always do something to make something better. Click To Tweet
We’ve been doing it for several years. We’re now with Target and Amazon globally. We’ve grown pretty slowly, but I think it’s been an incredible experience and learning. We have some incredible new things that are on the horizon for 2021. Our motto is like, “Stay protected while connected.” We want to provide healthy solutions for our tech-dependent lives. There are other things that are coming out that are not necessarily dealing with blue light but do address that problem.
I’m trying to think of what else can we worry about. I’m thinking of senses in general, but I don’t know. I’m very curious about what you have coming up.
You’ll say, “That’s so obvious,” when I tell you.
The things that you think are obvious, they’re not. You know what I keep trying to get my tech students to create and I wish that they would. I’m not into manufacturing. I’m teaching a course in technology for a bunch of different universities still. In tech school, they all come up with their ideas. All of them are coming up in SaaS different software types of systems. I don’t know if you use Echo. Some people might think this is creepy but to me, I think it would be cool to have the voice of a family member who passed. Instead of listening to her voice, somebody who you love has their voice on there.
I love that, Diane. That’s not so hard.
Why don’t they do that?
Why don’t we do it together?
We should do that.
It would be so much fun. I love that idea.
I know they have some voice people on there like guest voices and things. If you look at the whole Mission Impossible thing where they put the thing across their throat and they made Philip Seymour Hoffman speak into the thing and say certain words like the fox jumped over the lazy moon kind of things. It seems like you could get a certain amount of voice if you had their voice. Create it. If your parent dies, they’re there even though it’s not them in a way. I know a lot of people wouldn’t want that. They might find it creepy. To me, I would love that.
I love the fact that they’re living on or you’re thinking about them. How about if it’s your kid, you can have your voice like, “Do your homework.”
I think it would be hard for somebody who’s passed on to find enough voice material to use, but for people who are still alive and before it’s too late, get their voices. I don’t know how they make her voice if they make her do certain things. I look at how they did it.
You can also choose different voices. I don’t think what you’re suggesting is all that hard. I think it’s a brilliant idea.
I don’t know why they haven’t done it. I’ve always talked to my students. I’m like, “How do we do this?” A lot of them want to just blow people up in games and stuff. They’re not interested in that thing. To me, I think that would be good. When my mom’s boyfriend died, she was so upset. She had his video that I created of all his and stuff. She watched that thing forever. I thought, “If she could have him on there to talk to in the morning, even though she knows it’s not him, I think it would be a calming, comforting thing.” We have to brainstorm it.
We can do it another time. I want to know more about your students and what you’re teaching. I’d love to give them some of our products and have them do some testing, especially with my new things.
I teach for a lot of different universities. I was an MBA Program Chair at Forbes School of Business, but I was also an associate professor at everything from Embry-Riddle, which is an aeronautical Institute. The one that’s the only tech is the University of Advancing Technology here in Arizona. There are a lot of students who are coming up with these ideas. I share a lot of this stuff in those courses. A lot of my blogs, my videos and things from my interviews like this. They go into class. I get a lot of women in tech like Rebecca Costa and some cool people. I’ll put those shows into courses. I’ve had everybody from Richard Stallman who created new Linux software on my show to Craig Newmark and cool individuals.
What we do in this particular class is we get them to write their business plan. We get them to come up with their idea. They come up with how they’re going to finance it. They think they’re all going to make it on Kickstarter and everybody’s getting funded. I’m like, “What if you don’t get that? What’s your backup plan?” We talk about all that stuff. Sometimes those things work, sometimes they don’t. Eventually, it’s thinking about the whole structure, hierarchy of the business, the finance and the culture. I get a lot into the culture because my PhD is in business leadership and culture related things. We get into that because as you said, it starts at the top.
If you don’t have good leadership and you don’t promote curiosity, soft skills and all the things that make companies successful, we know people are hired for their knowledge, but then they’re fired for all these behavioral things. We go into all that and in the end, they eventually have a code of ethics and code of conduct type of stuff. They come up with a plan. I want them to be able to leave that course and have like, “Here’s how I’m going to go and start it.” If they can hand me that plan and I can create the business if I wanted to base on what they’ve come up with because they’ve thought about it so much. It’s fun. People don’t realize how much there is and this is a quick course that I’m teaching. In five weeks, it’s tough to cover all that stuff. You’re probably still learning doing this. We all are as we start companies. I’m always surprised by the level of insurance or legal things. There’s so much to it. What was the most surprising thing to you when you did your company that you didn’t anticipate?
I think the thing that you have to make sure of is that you want to wake up every single day and do this. It takes a lot of passion to have to get up and tackle it one more time or every day. One of the things that we always say is, you can always do something to make something better. We felt that let’s get it out there. Let’s start. If it’s 80% there, let’s go with it and we’ll make it better next time. Let’s learn from this one. You slowly build and you slowly get better and better. One of the things I noticed with technology is it’s so fast. Science is something that I’ve been involved in for a very long time. I’ve been a member of the Women & Science at Rockefeller University for over many years. I know how long science takes and there’s usually about a ten-year lag. Technology is fast and science comes later because it takes that much time for research. We’re seeing more and more research coming out about blue light and the effects of tech and how technology is affecting our lives and how blue lights affecting our eyes, our sleep and our skin.
I know in the technology courses, we get into some of the challenges like you’re talking about. You have to be passionate and want to do it, but the pace at which everything’s changing, Moore’s Law and all the things that they’d get into when they teach them, how much data things can hold and how much it’s going to change over the years. You’re building things now and trying to figure out things for things that maybe take me 2 or 3 years to develop. By then, it’s a whole other world and you don’t even know. I used to teach a foresight course in technology because you have to be thinking about what the problems are going to be 2, 3, 4, 5 years ahead sometimes. It’s the same thing in education because we were running these different schools. I would create this MBA program or whatever I’m trying to think of changing. It doesn’t matter what’s popular now so much. It’s how do you have that foresight? When you’re thinking of your new products, you’ve got to be thinking about what’s Apple working on? What’s Google working on? What’s everybody else working on? How do you do that kind of research?
Going back to my fashion background, because I was in accessories, I was two years ahead and I had to find out what is somebody going to want in two years? What is the shoe they’re going to want to wear? What’s the handbag they’re going to want to carry, the scarf and the glasses? What does it look like? What are the trends that are happening? What are the colors people are going to want? I had about 30 years of experience in doing it that way. I always go back to my gut and I think about what do I want? If I want something and it’s not out there, I create it. I take it and I make it simple. Otherwise, it’s way too big of a problem.
Jay Samit was on my show. He used to be one of the big guys at Sony. He wrote a book called Disrupt You! and Disrupt Yourself. He wrote two different versions of it. He talked about how you have to every day write down something that bugs you that you wish it was done a different way. Eventually, there will be something that will be, “I can fix that,” with the echo thing. Something that you would like to make your life better as you mentioned with your kid not sleeping. There are so many things. I don’t think a lot of people think that they can create stuff. If Kickstarter didn’t work for these students, they may not be able to bootstrap it. Some of us have the ability to bootstrap things. You can get Angel investors. You can do different things. What do you tell somebody who doesn’t have the money to start a new business? It’s tough.
I think what you can do is also start small and test it. That’s how we started. Build as you get more competent. If you have no money, then maybe start changing your profile about who you are so that it will all reflect what you ultimately want to be. If you’re on Instagram and you want to be in tech, you could start there. Start with what you can handle and build on it. I don’t know how else to say it. I was lucky enough to be able to put some money into this, but we break even every year. I have to wait until the end of the year, but we’ve broken even and grown. I haven’t wanted to take on investors because that would take a lot away from all the things that we’re building. Maybe that’s very small-minded but I also was at a point in my life where I told you I wasn’t afraid to fail. I was like, “What difference does it make at this stage?” I wanted to follow my passion.
I think it’s important. I get a lot of discussions with people who’ve started their business and they talk about how they all want to be the next unicorn. They have these great ideas, but they want to maybe fake it until they make it mentality a little bit. We end up with Elizabeth Holmes with Theranos. She didn’t even have a product and the whole thing crashed. We don’t want that. You want to be able to network with people who have these great connections or in the group where you want to be. You’re in New York. You are in the ultimate place to be with everybody next to being in Silicon Valley for something like this. Have you thought about moving to Silicon Valley?
No, not at all. I married a born and bred New Yorker. I’m afraid I’m here to stay. My kids love it here. What’s interesting that you talk about are these kids that want to have the next big thing. That was a big motivator for me in doing my business. I heard my children sitting around the kitchen table like, “What’s my big idea?” I had this idea that I couldn’t shake in my head and I thought, “I’m going to go out and I’m going to do this. I’m going to show them that mom can do something so that they don’t have this fear.” I felt that in a way that was me being a good mother. My kids were grown. They were in their twenties and they were starting out in their careers trying to figure out what their thing was. I thought, “If I can show them that I can do something and how I do it, the progression I take and how you build one thing one step at a time, that’s what they needed to learn from me at this stage in their lives.
Are they interested in building companies or creating shoes? Can they create a shoe that doesn’t hurt and isn’t called a kitten heel that makes me feel 100 years old that doesn’t hurt my feet? Do they have the shoemaker quality?
I have one son who’s in finance. The other one is at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. I just taught an entrepreneurship course there, which was fun. My youngest son is extremely creative.
I imagine where he would get that. When you teach the entrepreneurship courses, what kinds of things do you focus on?
My question is, did you ever have a lemonade stand growing up?
I had Diane’s Diner. That was my thing. I used to cook three sandwiches.
You have that in your book. I did the same thing. I used to make the menu and cook lunch for everybody at my house.Why aren't we protecting ourselves from blue light if we're spending eleven hours a day staring at screens? Click To Tweet
Nobody ever paid me.
I make the best-grilled cheese sandwiches ever.
The guy who did my audiobook didn’t repeat it as that. He said, “My diners,” but it was Diane’s Diner if you didn’t listen to the audio. It’s something that we have.
There are so many lessons that you learned there. One is the supply and demand and location. If it’s a sunny day, do you have the right product at the right time? Customer service, it’s a little bit of accounting. One of the things that I found that was most interesting was when my sons would beg to do a lemonade stand. One time a policeman stopped them because the pretzel vendor right next to them was very angry that they were stealing all the benefits. Believe it or not, it was a snap photo. It ended up on the cover of the New York Post. It said, “The meanest man in New York seeks the cops on the lemonade kid.” That was my son.
What a legacy to have that.
It was a day when there was no news.
You bring up so much of what we have the influence of our environment. In my research on curiosity, I found the four things that inhibit curiosity are fear, assumptions, technology, and environment. If you have a family, like what you’re saying, this is a great thing that you’re encouraging for your kids to be more curious, to lack that fear of failing. I had a guy on my show that goes, “I’ve failed at everything I’ve ever done the first time. I’ve tried it. It’s what you do. You hold yourself worried that it’s going to fail.” The problem is when you’re doing a company and it’s not your own funds, you’re responsible for everybody else’s funds. That’s a level of pressure.
Luckily, I haven’t done it that way. I couldn’t live with it that way. My father was always coming up with amazing ideas. In fact, he had a patent for a pool drain where people could not become entrapped. He was always coming up with these ideas.
I’ve never met your father, but I think the safety aspect is interesting. I always am fascinated by people who want to make manufactured products. I see a lot of people wanting to make software-based things because it’s less overhead. There’s a lot more money on it. Sales as a service is a big deal. When you said all the things that are included in what you’ve learned from your lemonade stand, sales is the hugest thing I think has helped me in my career. Working in sales for decades either I was working in agricultural chemicals, I was in computer sales and pharmaceutical sales, real estate and lending. No matter what kind of sales I was in, you learn the ability to have that interpersonal relationship that I don’t know they are teaching enough in other degree programs that you get in that real-life sales experience. I’m sure in the clothing industry, you get a lot.
I would love to go out. Tory used to always send me out to do it. She’d be like, “You’re our best salesperson.” I love selling. I got that selling in my mother’s store when I was a kid. My son had to cold-call people all summer long from an investment firm on Zoom. By the end of the summer, he became so good at that. He did not have that talent before the summer. You would’ve thought that’s the worst summer job. What’s he ever going to learn? It was a great summer job.
They used to hand us the yellow pages and they’re like, “Here, dial for dollars. Have fun.” My youngest, she did a telemarketing job. She said people call her Osama Bin Laden. They call her names when she talks to them on the phone. She is this little kid, sixteen trying to get a job. It gives you this foundation, “I could do just about anything now because I survived sales.”
You learn different things at different times in your life. What I cared so much about was my children’s health. My middle son has neurological difficulties and learning issues. Performance and being healthy was so important to me. We’re all taking our vitamins. We’re slathering on sunblock. We’re exercising and eating right but why aren’t we protecting ourselves from blue light if we’re spending eleven hours a day staring at screens? That’s what the average American is doing. Why aren’t we doing that? Why risk it?
I’m wondering, is it worse from your cell phone or from the computer because it’s a bigger screen? Does the size of the screen make a difference?
You want to be further away. The further away you are the better. You look at these kids and they hold their phones, they sleep with them, they put it on their pillow. A dimly lit room where your pupils will become dilated and even more blue light goes all the way back to the retina and suppresses the melatonin.
I think it’s great what you’re doing. I was watching your success. I didn’t know if you were still at Tory Burch doing this on the side or if you were just doing this. When your mom and I got together, she said this was your main stuff.
When I was with Tory, I’m doing this on the side for a while. It is something that I love doing so much because I think it’s fun to work for yourself. You were saying, working in a big company, I adore being my own boss. I love it. If I make a mistake, “It’s my mistake. It’s fine. I’ll learn from it. I’ll move on.” If I make a mistake in a company, it’s harder.
I like to be in control. I like the boss’ aspect of not having to report to somebody. Being able to use your creativity to do something and not have a limit put on you. That’s what I like.
Have it be your idea. Maybe you do it and you create an ad or a video and it’s not the best video, but you learned how to do it. I love to be able to get into the backend of things. What is it that drives somebody? What is the motivator for all of this?
I’m curious how thick your skin is if somebody criticizes your product or something online.
I know you probably aren’t going to believe this. I actually like criticism. Maybe not when my husband criticizes me. I find that I like the back and forth. I think out loud. I like to hear my ideas. I’d like to hear what somebody else thinks about them because they always make them better. I like building on that.
I think it’s different if it’s a product versus if it’s you. When you are your product, it makes it a lot harder to take criticism. For me when I have a product I create, then I go, “I can fix that.” When they’re criticizing you as an individual, it gets tough. You get a lot of these haters and people that’ll make comments on things. I agreed that when they give you that input, that’s the best thing you can have to make your product better. I think that’s a huge benefit to everything. I was excited to see your success with this. I was watching it all over Instagram and I’m like, “This is everywhere. You are rocking this.” I couldn’t wait to have you on the show. I was excited when you said you would do it. I knew this was such an important product. I loved that you were able to join me. I think a lot of people are going to want to follow you and learn more about it. Is there a website or a social media thing or anything you want to share?
Maybe we’ll build something together someday.
I love that idea. Part of the fun of it has been going to the tech crunches, the Wall Street Journal tech conference and meeting new people. It’s been an incredible journey and it’s opened my life up to so many new people and possibilities. That’s a good lesson for people who are starting a company that is like, “Where do I want to be?”
It’s all about that. Hopefully, someday we’ll get out of our states and be able to travel again and be somewhere else so that we can do it.
I’m coming to Arizona.
I was supposed to be in New York. I don’t know when I’m coming back, but we’ll have that. That was such a lovely restaurant last time. We’ll get together again. Thank you for being on the show. This was so much fun.
I’d like to thank Gigi for being my guest. It was fun having her on the show. I’ve had a chance to meet her just once. It was such an interesting discussion because it’s so nice when you have so much in common to talk about in the business world. She has had such an impressive background. If you take some time to explore some of her work in the fashion industry alone, it’s impressive. She’s so down to earth considering how successful she’s been. I’ve had so much fun having time to chat with her before, but I never got a chance to talk to her about EyeJust.
I had seen so much out there on Instagram and everywhere else about the success of this company. I am impressed with what she’s done. I was excited that she agreed to be on the show. That was a wonderful discussion. I know I’ve had many great guests on the show and you probably don’t get a chance to check all the thousand-plus guests. If you’ve missed 1 or 2, you can find them at DrDianeHamilton.com. It’s a nice place to go to check out all the shows. In fact, you can actually search at the top right for any topic that might interest you like emotional intelligence and culture. Some of the things that we talk about on the show.
There are many shows where we cover so much on curiosity and perception. There’s a lot of information about curiosity and perception on my site. You could take the Perception Power Index, as well as the Curiosity Code Index. They’re all there under the assessments. Make sure you scout around the site. There’s a lot more at the bottom too. You can find some testimonials there. You can become an affiliate there. If you have any questions, reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you check back for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Rebecca Costa – previous episode
- Richard Stallman – previous episode
- Craig Newmark – previous episode
- Women & Science
- Jay Samit – previous episode
- Disrupt You!
- Disrupt Yourself
- @EyeJust – Instagram
- Perception Power Index
- Curiosity Code Index
About Gigi Mortimer
I started EyeJust on a mission to research and discover why. I turned to Harvard and their sleep studies and learned that blue light triggers the brain into thinking it is daylight and suppresses melatonin. It was my ah-ha moment. I knew then that I had to come up with a solution that would help people take care of their health and mitigate the dangers of blue light. I just (EyeJust) had to do it!
Initially, I considered designing and manufacturing glasses, but my kids said they wouldn’t put on glasses to look at their phones. So the next step was to embed blue light blocking technology right into a screen protector. With rigorous testing and input from doctors and scientists, we developed EyeJust. And now that device use is on the rise, there are more studies on the effects of blue light including potential damage to eyes and skin. The research keeps adding up – over exposure to blue light is bad for our health. I hope you will join me on a mission to educate consumers on how they can protect their eyes, skin and sleep. With e-learning, socializing online and working remotely the new normal EyeJust is the solution we all need to stay protected while connected.
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