Community Spotlight: Gregg Lillie

Community Spotlight: Gregg Lillie

As a self-proclaimed coffee snob, Gregg drinks his coffee black – no matter if it’s a light roast or Bitches Brew drip, an espresso shot, or a nitro cold brew (no ice). If a customer’s cafe order says anything about them, Gregg’s gives the right impression of confidence and tenacity. 

Gregg Lillie, the co-owner of the lifestyle brand Scummy Bears, was born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey. With the strong will and passion of a New Jerseyan, Gregg moved to L.A. at 18 years old and climbed the ranks of the music festival industry. Over a decade later, Gregg has built an intriguing resume around his festival community. 

Gregg in a black and white Scummy Bears sweater

Following the music  

Gregg got his feet wet in the music industry as a 13-year-old Photoshop wiz, when older high-schoolers who booked local rock shows offered him free admission to concerts in return for designing their flyers and merch. Soon, Gregg was frequenting rock music festivals like the Warped Tour. Once he moved to California to study film at Chapman University, the festival world was his oyster. 

After graduating, Gregg knew he wanted a job adjacent to the music festival culture he had grown to love. He earned a job as Social Media Manager for a notable festival clothing brand and became the Brand Manager by age 24. But his passion called him elsewhere; Gregg took a leap of faith when one of his favorite artists, Excision, was looking for help. 

“I sent him my resume and I was like, ‘I'll do whatever, just throw me some work.’ And to my surprise, the next day they contacted me,” Gregg says. 

He progressed from working at Excision’s merch booth on tour to co-producing the music festivals Lost Lands and Bass Canyon with Excision.

“I've been very fortunate to have some really cool jobs very early in my life, and if it taught me anything, it's that having a cool job doesn't necessarily mean you feel connected to what you're doing,” Gregg says. It took perseverance, risk, and owning his own business to realize the importance of surrounding himself with people he cares about and who inspire him. 

“If you just keep going, you'll find that thing that you really connect with and enjoy,” he says.  

Gregg found this while working for Excision alongside his now business partner, Devin Taylor. Gregg and Devin clicked immediately and, both experienced in the music fashion industry, they created a metal-inspired clothing brand together called Shrapnel Streetwear. But that was soon overshadowed by a brand that they resonated with even more.  

“There's little moments in life [that] when they're happening, you don't really realize how much of an impact it's going to have on you,” Gregg says. One of those moments was during a drive back from working at Shambhala Music Festival. Sleep-deprived but fueled by a post-festival glow, Gregg and Devin fantasized about creating an even bigger brand that resonated with an even bigger audience. 

“Somewhere along the way, one of us in the car said ‘Scummy Bears’ and we looked at each other like ‘that's a really good name,’” Gregg says. 

Gregg and Devin with the Scummy Bears team at their merch booth

The Scummy Bears team (Gregg on far left, Devin on far right) 


Scummy Bears was created to foster unapologetic self-expression 

Scummy Bears was officially founded in 2016. While Gregg and Devin's intention was to start with enamel pins, they immediately dove into making apparel. The Scummy Bears aesthetic is bright and light-hearted. From faux-fur coats, to shirts with a bear head exploding with ramen noodles, to festival bikinis with skull-popsicles, Scummy Bears designs are intended for having fun while allowing space for darker imagery. 

Aligning with the broader festival culture, the Scummy Bears message in simple terms is “be who you want to be.” The Scummy Bears team creates based on everyday inspiration, not by what’s trendy or lucrative. For two people who wear almost exclusively black clothing, Scummy Bears is Gregg and Devin’s creative outlet for colorful, whimsical imagery that resonates with the sentiment that no one should be pigeonholed into one style. 

 “At a festival, especially dance music festivals, I always love that everybody comes dressed how they're feeling, and how they want to dress, and how they want to express themselves. That's our inspiration,” Gregg says. He’s fulfilled when people resonate with Scummy Bears enough to wear it as their personal statement. 

Two women in Scummy Bears fuzzy sweaters


Gregg’s motivation lies in contributing to the music culture that formed him

“I wouldn't be who I am without the music scene, specifically the festival scene,” Gregg says. “I wanted to give back and create more of that culture for the people around me. That's something we do not just for the fans that come to our booths, but for our team.”

The Scummy Bears team travel together to festivals – which Gregg says is always a “magical” experience for their small, tight-knit “family.” 

“None of what I do would be possible without our amazing team and the community and people who support us. The brand has always been about bringing talented people together and giving them a platform first and foremost,” Gregg says. 

Scummy Cares is the philanthropic arm of the company that utilizes its platform further. 

“It mattered to us that we weren't just making money,” Gregg says. No matter their size, Scummy Bears wanted to give back in some capacity. The idea started when face masks were scarce during the COVID-19 pandemic and Scummy Bears festival masks were flying out of their warehouses.  

“People who had no idea what a music festival is or what our brand is were buying them,” he laughs. To avoid profiting off of the pandemic, Scummy Bears started donating mask proceeds to charity. Now, Scummy Bears also collaborates with musical artists who choose where to donate the proceeds. One of Gregg’s favorite collabs is with the Native American hardstyle artist Darksiderz, who gives the proceeds of his Dark Vizionz collection to IllumiNative. 

“One thing we're not afraid of is just putting stuff out there,” Gregg says. “It’s a platform for people to be exactly who they want to be.”  

Gregg with the Scummy Bears team wearing Scummy Bears outfits against a backdrop of teddy bears

Finding genuine people in communities big and small  

Gregg values genuineness at all levels of his community – from nationwide festivals, to the Scummy Bears family, to his Venice neighborhood. 

“I've always been drawn to Venice because it's quirky, but the people that are here know it's quirky,” Gregg says. “You're here because you connect with it in some way.” 

He says the same for Groundwork, which feels somewhat like family, too.

“There's a lot of coffee shops in Venice that I can walk to and it's here that people treat you a little different.”

His tiny dog, Candy drags him the few blocks from his apartment through the doors of Groundwork on Rose every morning.

“I'm not just saying this for the interview,” Gregg laughs. “I wake up and the first thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is I put the dog on her leash and I walk straight here…I think she makes a lot of people's days when she scurries in there.” 

Gregg holding  his dog, Candy, dressed in Christmas outfits

Scummy Bears drops new products online and at music festivals – catch them in May at EDC Las Vegas, June at Beyond Wonderland in Washington, and November at Apocalypse Fest in Long Beach. They’re also gearing up to produce their own events and more experiential entertainment at festivals.

Written by
Melina Devoney
Barista Blogger