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Zoe Armstrong & Ali Watkiss: Founders of SunGod

Meet the pair behind a ski goggle kickstarter company

Featured in: | Ellie Mahoney, Verbier Editor | Published
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Here at Verbinet.com we love well designed, good looking products and are always on the lookout for the best latest gear to share with you, our readers. Once in a while something pops into our news feed that we feel merits a little more investigation, and SunGod goggles happened to be one of those. 

Zoe Armstrong & Ali Watkiss spend their winters in Verbier, which is obviously a great place to test out lenses and refine their product design. We caught up with Zoe to find out a bit more about they started their business and how well the crowdfunding has gone for their new goggles. 

Hi Zoe, tell us what inspired you to start up a business and what your role is?

Ali and I were working in office jobs in London a few years ago, but always looking for ways to escape and spend more time in the mountains. The idea for SunGod came from years of frustration with countless pairs of sunglasses. Good quality branded pairs cost over £100, while cheap £10 knock-offs offered limited protection and always broke too easily. We knew we could bring to market a better pair at a fairer price... So, we launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo and it went from there.

How long have you been producing sunglasses for and how popular are they?

We launched SunGod in 2013, and the response was incredible. The crowdfunding campaign gave us the impetus needed to quit our jobs, and the cashflow required to enter our first production run. We've now sold SunGods to tens of thousands of customers all over the world, and we're growing each year, so it's really exciting to see it develop.

From sunglasses to ski goggles, was it an easy transition to make and how much easier / harder as a product are the goggles to produce?

Goggles are definitely a much more technical product, and so they took a long time to get right. We spent just over two years prototyping, developing and testing out here in Verbier, and despite wanting to launch earlier, we knew how important it was that every element was exactly to the quality level and specification we wanted.

Who is your target market?

Our main market is people who love the adventure and outdoors. People who enjoy a wide variety of different sports, and have an appreciation of and desire for high quality eyewear, that will protect their eyes from the elements and look the part, but won’t break the bank.

Your kickstarter / crowdfunding for the goggles went so well, tell us how it all worked?

Kickstarter was a great platform for us to launch our goggles. It allowed us to test our concept, reach a much wider audience and also leverage the virability and excitement that comes with crowdfunding a new product. We were stoked that so many people got behind our campaign, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to launch something new.

Where can we buy SunGod products?

We ship worldwide from our website and we'll also be at the Freeride World Tour Expo in Verbier next month.

How long have you been coming to Verbier?

We've been coming here every Winter for the last 3 years now, and love it! Wherever we head for the summer, I always look forward to getting back out here.

What's your favourite piste or off-piste area & top tip to go skiing?

We chose Verbier because there's just so much varied and challenging freeride terrain accesible. I'd probably say my favourite spot is the Bruson trees on a powder day.

Your personal favourite place for lunch or dinner?

Such a hard one! Alcapone is a great spot for dinner, or Le Caveau when you fancy an authentic Swiss fondue.

What has been your best ever day in this resort?

Probably my birthday last year. It had sunshine, powder, lunch on the hill, cake with friends and drinks to finish!

What's your favourite thing to do in resort when not skiing or snowboarding? 

Probably eating or drinking with friends, midnight sledging or taking a class at Wholey Cow to keep my ski legs strong.

Skiing or snowboarding? What's your preference & why?

Skiing for sure! 

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Creating your own custom goggles is so easy - pick a frame, pick a lense then a strap and pop it in your shopping basket. At £85 they're really affordable, they look good and you can replace parts easily when you need them. We love the product and we wish Zoe & Ali every success with their growing business!

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