Home » Business » Meet the millennial cofounder of a jewelry brand that has partnered with the NFL and NBA and is on track to make $50 million in revenue this year
Meet the millennial cofounder of a jewelry brand that has partnered with the NFL and NBA and is on track to make $50 million in revenue this year
Christian Johnston, 28, is the cofounder of GLD, which is known for making diamond jewelry that can range in price from $899 to over $40,000.
The company has an elite client list that includes the Kardashians, rapper Cardi B, and singer Justin Bieber. It has also struck deals to create jewelry for the NFL, NBA, MLB, and Marvel.
This year, the company is on track to do over $50 million in revenue, per documents reviewed by Business Insider.
In an interview, Johnston talks about why he decided to make affordable diamonds for the aspirational consumer.
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Each year, jewelry brand GLD pulls into Rolling Loud, one of the world's largest hip-hop festivals, in a refurbished ice cream truck. The goal: to sell pendants and watches to festival-goers. The mantra: to just have a good time.
"We just drive it around blasting music," Christian Johnston, GLD cofounder told Business Insider. "It creates a good atmosphere."
It's just what's expected, perhaps, of the popular jewelry brand, whose elite client roster includes Justin Bieber, Cardi B, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant.
The brand is cool enough to snag partnership with the NFL, the NBA, the MLB, and Marvel, creating pendants designed as superheroes, and with basketball, football, and baseball team logos.
Johnston, 28, cofounded GLD alongside his childhood friend, Dan Folger, 27, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2015. Growing up, Johnston told Business Insider, they both always wanted to have nice jewelry, but never had the option to buy any for an affordable price.
"You either had to spend thousands of dollars or you were getting something that was not so nice and you couldn't really be proud of," Johnston said. "To me, you should always be proud of your jewelry if you're going to have it."
Each put just under $1,000 into the idea of making high-quality jewelry at a lower price point and the concept was a hit.
Five years later, the company is on track to do $50 million in revenue before the end of this year, per documents reviewed by Business Insider.
"It was once a joke that everything we had we put into a cardboard box — our whole business could fit into a box," Johnston said. "Then the box got a little bigger, and a little bigger, and then before we knew it, we had our first office in Pittsburgh."
Johnston credits Instagram for helping the brand grow
GLD, a play on the word "gold," seeks to create affordable jewelry for the aspirational customer. A Rolex, for example can go anywhere from $5,000 to above $12,000. The lowest-priced — and best-selling — GLD watch goes for $899.
It's a watch that is fully covered in diamonds — a process known as "icing." It is offered in either 18-carat plated gold or 14-carat solid gold, with the dial options of either white, red, and black.