Aiden Emilo graduated from the Leeds School MBA program in 2013. While at CU, she focused on supply chain and operations. Her interest in this specialty stemmed from a desire to be part of generating greater efficiency and sustainability in business and commerce.
Aiden is the Founder and CO-Owner of Rex Specs - a company that designs and manufactures canine protective eyewear. Canines, like humans, need to protect their eyes from damaging sun exposure and debris. Unfortunately, doggy eyewear is not as easy to come by as you might think. This was the problem that Aiden and her partner, now husband, Jesse Emilo discovered after attempting to find protective eyewear for their own dogs.
“I started noticing cloudiness in my German Shepherd’s eyes. The vet diagnosed it as Pannus, which is common in German Shepherds and other breeds. UV rays makes it worse, especially in Colorado due to the high elevation and intensity of the UV. The vet said I could stop bringing my dog outside or find dog goggles because eventually the condition can lead to blindness. We tried some other eye protection options that were on the market, but they didn’t work for our lifestyle and weren’t sufficient for doing normal dog things. Without really thinking, we just did the first thing that came to mind. We found some beat up old ski goggles and tried to retrofit them to the dog.”
The retro-fitted goggles that Aiden made for her dog drew some attention from other dog owners. Aiden and Jesse discovered that many people were facing the same issues that they were. They knew that there had to be a better solution.
Aiden describes the initial stages of establishing Rex Specs as a long and slow process. They experienced the struggles that many entrepreneurs face - perfecting their design, maintaining faith and confidence in their idea, finding the right market to launch in, and finding a reliable and quality manufacturer. Despite the bumpy road, Aiden and her partner remained dedicated to their idea and persevered.
Favorite part of entrepreneurship
“It’s really easy to get caught up in the analytics. I really enjoy the analytical framework because it allows me to find space for creativity in between. I like to identify a problem, come up with goals, and then take a second look and try to find a different approach - a creative approach. Because Rex Specs is not a typical product, it’s really forced us to pave our own way - a lot of the standard marketing theories don’t directly apply.”
Aiden attributes her stubbornness and persistence to her success in the entrepreneurial world. She really values a hard work ethic - a key characteristic of successful entrepreneurs. Despite a common perception that entrepreneurs are trying to create ‘the next big thing’ and settle into a life of luxury, Aiden is not in it to make a quick buck. She prefers the long game, and really working to perfect her product. Respect!
One piece of advice?
“Don’t let your own skepticism in your own ideas - no matter how crazy - stop you in the beginning. Be critical of the results and the research, but not the idea. If its working, keep pushing it. Don’t let your lack of confidence in something be what turns you away. Let the market tell you what’s worth it.”