Ryan Babenzien is stepping down as CEO of Greats.
“After almost 7 rewarding years, I’ve decided to step down as the CEO of Greats,” Babenzien wrote on Instagram today. “I never thought about what it would be like to write those words until recently, but after thinking about what’s important to me, what I enjoy doing and what I’m good at, I have come to the realization that it is time to let someone else guide the company and for me to move on from my role as CEO at Greats.”
Babenzien founded the Brooklyn, NY-based lifestyle sneaker brand in 2014, offering a range of footwear executed with clean and classy designs, which quickly earned the company a loyal fan base. Throughout the years under Babenzien, some of the most sought-after shoes Greats has delivered included fashion-focused collaborations — most notably with Death to Tennis and Nick Wooster — as well as the recent eco-friendly Royale Eco Canvas, a look the brand stated was its “most responsible shoe ever.”
“I set out to create a footwear brand that lives well beyond me, whether I’m the CEO or not. I believe that we have established the foundation for Greats to not only continue on but to flourish and succeed without me,” Babenzien wrote on Instagram. “Greats has set many firsts and achieved many milestones; building Greats has been more gratifying than I ever imagined it would be when we started the company.”
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With the buzz surrounding Greats growing, Steven Madden Ltd. acquired the burgeoning company in August 2019. “In the 30 years since I started Steve Madden, rarely have I come across an opportunity as exciting as this. Ryan’s shoes are the talk among all the millennial men I encounter. He reminds me so much of myself. We can’t wait to explode this thing,” Madden told FN at the time.
Babenzien concluded his Instagram statement: “I need everyone to understand that this decision comes after months of reflection on my personal goals and at no cost to my support for the future of the brand. I am Greats #1 fan and I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had in building a brand that consumers love and support. It’s been an honor to work with everyone who is part of the Greats family, both current and prior, immediate and extended and I am looking forward to cheering for Greats’ continued success.”