Gatorz Employee Spotlight: Stephanie Fiust

AMERICAN MADE BY AMERICAN HANDS

STEPHANIE FIUST

Of the entire lineup of Gatorz American-made frames, Stephanie Fiust wears the Skyhook, the brand’s sleek and lightweight take on the iconic aviator style.

“The Wraptors are my go-to for sports and activities,” she remembers. “When I get back to doing marathons, I’ll start wearing my Wraptors again, but for now, I’m all about the Skyhook.”

And why isn’t Stephanie, Head of Sales at Gatorz Eyewear, running marathons in a pair of sleek Wraptors?

Because she’s five months pregnant with her third child, and marathons aren’t exactly on her to-do list right now.

“Life stays busy between immersing myself in Gatorz sales and entertaining two—soon-to-be three—babies after hours, and supporting my husband after our recent transition from military life to civilian life.” 

Stephanie recently celebrated her seven-year anniversary working for Gatorz, the longest she’s worked for any one company her entire career. She has almost 20 years of experience working in operations, sales, and project management.

“My first job was threading small square nuts for Carvin guitars on a threading machine when I was 12 years old,” she recalls, referring to the machine shop her dad has owned and operated for 50 years. Stephanie grew up watching the struggles of small American businesses, especially when companies started outsourcing overseas. When businesses chose to rely on China for production, her family lost clients and business. In a small shop with just a handful of clients, losing even just one had a huge impact.

“I took that personally.” she remembers. “I was in my late teens when I realized the importance of American manufacturing, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why Gatorz is a product I truly believe in.”

A Southern California native, Stephanie never thought she would move away from San Diego. An active hiker, traveler, and occasional half-marathon runner, Stephanie enjoyed the region’s sunny shores, temperate climates, and obviously, the craft beer scene. But most importantly, in those pre-Gatorz days, she loved her rewarding sales job and didn’t plan to leave it.

And then she married a Marine. As many military spouses can attest, the Department of Defense doesn’t particularly care where you prefer to live, shuffling families around the world wherever they’re needed. 

Stephanie moved with her new husband, an AV-8B Harrier pilot, to Yuma, Arizona, forcing her to leave her job and wondering what to set her sights on next. Searching for work in Yuma, Stephanie turned down multiple low-ball offers, determined not to sell herself short. 

One day, while searching on LinkedIn, she stumbled on the Gatorz corporate page and cold-messaged the president and introduced herself. After striking up a conversation with him, it wasn’t long before Stephanie was invited to drop off her resume. Her years of sales and project management experience led to an impromptu job offer. 

“I had no idea that dropping off my resume in person would turn into a 7-year-long career where I would get to work with our nation’s heroes in an industry I’m passionate about.” 

Ever since she was young, Stephanie has surrounded herself with Americans who serve their country. Her father is a Vietnam veteran, and her husband Dan has logged over 2,500 hours of flight time in the AV-8B Harrier, including five deployments. To Stephanie, showing up every day to work for a brand offering the finest protective eyewear for military servicemembers, police officers, and first responders is an honor and a privilege. 

“Gatorz frames look and feel great, but they also deliver function and protection that’s unrivaled,” she says. “Gatorz customers are fiercely loyal, and for good reasons. They are smart and recognize a top-quality product when they see one. I’ve seen countless photos from customers who’ve been in situations where their Gatorz protected their eyes. I’ve heard stories of soldiers and Marines who’ve been near explosions and their frames protected them from flying shrapnel. Stories like this infuse my day with a sense of purpose.” 

Considering how dedicated Stephanie is to every aspect of her life, whether it’s her position at Gatorz, a resilient military spouse, or a mother of (soon-to-be) three, it’s easy to see that it won’t be long before she swaps out her casual Skyhooks for a more aerodynamic, race-ready pair of Wraptors. After all, they do work better for running marathons.