Should You Swim With Sharks And Start An Eyewear Business?

It seems that everybody has a brilliant idea for an eyewear collection. You read about it on Optical Forums, where I do start, where do I get  product, what do I need and the best of all.. I have a brilliant idea for a line.

Then you read on the Crowd-Source sites: .. ‘we were surfing and we couldn’t find the right ‘wayfarer’ type glasses (seriously) and then the ‘we found out that one company controlled the industry’ (Yawn)…’everything is so expensive’, we wanted to bring transparency (PLEASE) …eliminate the middleman… Yada, Yada, Yada.

Image: New Grad Optometry

I have known a few people who have started an Eyewear business. They had great product, but they didn’t last. In fact about 50% of those on crowd-funding do not last more that a year. In 2016, we saw the demise of several long time optical companies. An estimated 300 eyewear companies are not in business today and another 300 that are hanging by a thread. It is a highly competitive business with OVER 300 eyewear companies being launched every year.

Vernon Gantry Eyewear, established 2016 

Not to say that starting one is bad, In fact it it becoming quite the ‘In’ thing to have your own eyewear line: Having that great idea is fabulous, but it doesn’t sell the product. In fact I would venture to say, the design part is one of the easiest to do. The hard part is the details: Quality control, manufacturing, shipping, delivery, sales, accounting, staffing and marketing.

The one thing (of many) that we have learned from Shark Tank, the idea may be there, but so must the numbers. You Have to focus your market, You Have to be willing to crunch numbers everyday, You Have to be able to control your cost of goods and inventory and You Have to be trustworthy and open and You Have to be willing to work long and hard.  Just like any other business.

You may think you know the optical market, but do you really? It is one thing to sell out of a brick mortar store and another to SELL TO a brick and mortar store.

  1. Decide and look at if you really, really want to do this? Are you an entrepreneur?
  2. Why do you really want to do this?
  3. Research the business or know it well. Just because you are an eyecare professional means that you know the business. You may know how to dispense or give an eye exam, but do you know the optical industry? Do you know the players? Who is your competition? What do they do to be successful?
  4. Talk to others in the industry who have made it and others who did not and why.
  5. Decide how you want to market it, do you have a retail store and will sell from there and branch out? Are you going to wholesale and retail the product? Are you going online? What channels will you be using to sell products?
  6. Know your basic business numbers.
  7. Have a mentor, join a business group
  8. Surround yourself with people you trust
  9. Be passionate about your business and product.

If you want to look at a few Optical companies to see what they are doing check out: Bksp Eyewear (Optical store with own brand) Alexander Daas (Optician) Brownie and Madam (Optometrist), Ed Beiner (Optical Shops) Femie Eyewear (Optometrist), Gazal Eyewear, (Optician) GRO Eyewear by Rims and Goggles, iolla (Optometrist) Lumiere Eyewear (Optometrist) Micro Mega (Optical Shop) Nacky Made (Optician) Norman Childs Eyewear by Eyetique, Ottica Urbani (Optical shop) Vernon Gantry (Optometrist) We Love Eyes (Optometrist)

Bottom line: To a certain extent opening up an eyeglass company is very easy. Go to alibaba, pick out some frames and you are off. Take a vacation/business trip to any eyewear trade show and pick some styles. Pick a name, register it and there it is, your own eyewear company. That is the easy part… The rest is the hard part.


TC Charton Eyewear - Made To Fit