Fashion eyewear company lays blueprint for financial success
It’s rare for a new company to come out of the gate as a financial success story. However, there do seem to be ways to give a business an edge when you have the right strategy. Hawkers Co is a thriving business in the fashion eyewear industry and has made a serious name for itself on social media.
A major component of how the company was able to grow its revenue to more than $100 million per year lies in who the founders turned to for help. Current President Alejandro Betancourt had a strong hand in the direction of the company and its ultimate bottom line. We’ll look at how their initial products caught on with a young demographic and where the company was able to harness that popularity to branch out all over the world.
From Tech to Fashion
Hawkers didn’t start out selling sunglasses. In fact, the four founders only stumbled upon the opportunity when searching for ways to finance another venture. Out to create the Spanish version of Craigslist, this brand resold sunglasses from California for a considerable profit. In just two years, the one-time purchase would turn into $60 million in revenue.
Considering the founders hadn’t prepared for the fashion industry, they had a lot of roadblocks at the beginning. Even as money was coming, it was being spent just as rapidly to keep up with production costs. This is how the founders eventually find their way to successful investor Alejandro Betancourt.
Alejandro Betancourt made already made a name for himself with his investment group O’Hara Administration by the time he became involved with Hawkers. This asset management company had help fund projects all over the world, and Betancourt learned a lot about why certain ventures succeed and others never find their footing.
His instincts in the financial world were well documented and would turn out to be a huge advantage for Hawkers. One of the things that Betancourt tapped into right away was the core values of the brand. Hawkers offers high-end value at low-end prices, which is exactly the kind of proposition that young people are driven toward. And with 90% of the company’s sunglasses ordered online, everything pointed toward social media as the most natural way to show off this brand.
Betancourt also knew the perfect platform to drive sales because he identified the types of customers who knew the brand best — influencers on sites like Instagram. These are style icons who enjoy being the first in line when it comes to the latest fashions. In fact, it’s that trend-setting desire that can launch worldwide phenomena. Betancourt was able to bring investors to the table and infuse $56 million to Hawkers, which would go on to fund offices all over the world and more than 4.5 million pairs sold in more than 50 countries since 2017.
Stylish people wearing sunglasses and enjoying the outdoors are certainly memorable images for people. It’s partially why the company’s Facebook page has more than 6.6 million followers. However, the company is doing far more than snapping picture-perfect photos.
Customers come to Hawkers because they get similar quality to brands like Dolce & Gabbana at up to 80% off. The strategy is to drive more sales rather than keep bumping up the profit margin. The company is also known for its commitment to transparency with customers and listening to their concerns. The company recently expanded into contact lenses using the same business model of offering hefty savings to customers by minimizing overhead costs.
Its new line of environmentally responsible sunglasses (in 100% sustainable packaging) is also very on-brand with its target base and should appeal to even more audiences looking for stylish and protective eyewear.
How Start-Ups Grow
Alejandro Betancourt has a personal strategy for his business: “Always surround yourself with good people and build teams that deliver high performance.” It’s a relatively straightforward way to honor the people that you work with and give every talented individual their chance to shine.
Hawkers was able to give themselves an edge by thoroughly understanding where they were in the market. If young people are going online and they don’t have a lot of money to spend, they could now find sunglasses that were every bit as fashionable and durable as the bigger name brands. They could see others like themselves enjoying the product and talking about what makes it special.
As Alejandro Betancourt evaluated his strategies, the emerging platform of Instagram seemed like the best avenue to connect with people who were most likely to purchase the product. It’s why it was named one of the top 10 Spanish startups in 2018 after raising just under $24 million in new funding.
What Companies Can Learn
One of the most valuable lessons here when it comes to this success story would have to be the value of flexibility. When their original website idea wasn’t working out, Hawkers & Co. turned to sunglasses. When they needed to get more resources, they weren’t afraid to track down someone who could help. When Instagram was nothing more than another new platform on the market, leadership wasn’t afraid to go all-in on marketing.
Alejandro Betancourt has faced plenty of failures in his life and he knows that the only thing to do when you fall is to keep getting back up. It’s what’s allowed his ventures to keep moving forward, even as the market changes around them.