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7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Founding an Eyewear Startup (Updated)

Posted by Zenobia Chan on 29 June 2017


Ninety percent of Startups fail in their first year, and the number one reason for failure according to Forbes Magazine is incompetence. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what to do with your eyewear startup before you even started?

With companies such as Luxottica and Warby Parker, why would you even bother with an eyewear startup, the competition is too stringent right?

Wrong! Don’t Be Negative!

It’s precisely because of companies like Warby Parker or Luxottica that forming an eyewear startup is an excellent idea. The market is already huge and growing each year, the population is growing and with that the demand for high-quality, affordable eyewear.

In 2016, the market value of the global eyewear market amounted to 95 billion U.S. dollars. Eyewear products spanned across the globe have become one of the most iconic consumer goods of the decade. People from DIVERSE CULTURES and vast demographic differences are becoming consumers of the global eyewear market.

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Who wouldn’t want to work for themselves and see something they created grow into a successful enterprise?

Let us HELP you

There’s no sight like hindsight! Nearly every businessman out there today has uttered the phrase “If I only knew that BEFORE starting my company things would have been so much easier.”

The fact is you don’t need to reinvent the wheel; there’s a lot of excellent (free) advice available to you if you’re willing to take it. In light of that, we’ve compiled a list of seven things you should know before starting up an eyewear company to help you in your endeavor.

1. Solve a PROBLEM

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If you’re not solving a problem with your startup, the chances are your business won’t succeed. Whoaaaa rough, right? NO, it’s basic supply and demand if you think about it; making money from reinventing old ideas is just not wise.

Create a solution for a problem or improve an existing one, and make that your business. I’m not saying you need to find the cure for cancer, but what you must to do is to get yourself in the right kind of mind frame.



2. Research CURRENT success stories

An excellent example of Eyewear history in the making can be seen in this article about Warby Parker. With their revolutionary eyewear apps or 5 pairs to try on at home deals, you don’t have to look too far to figure out which direction the market is going. It’s easy to get blinded by  “traditional” eyewear concepts or stores, but if you look at current success stories, you will have a better idea of which direction to take.

Use the internet as your main resource. Take time to read from influencers in the industry or follow their blog pages. Free tools like Google Alerts can be used to keep you up to speed with what’s happening in the eyewear industry with very little effort.


Finding Suppliers for Eyewear Startups


3. Finding a RELIABLE Manufacturer is much harder than you think

When Konrad Billetz had an idea for an eyewear startup, his first move was to look for a manufacturer for his interchangeable eyewear. He started with Alibaba looking for eyewear factories and initially thought it would be an easy search. His idea was to produce interchangeable lenses that pop in and out of one frame, allowing customers to use one pair of glasses with various lenses.

BUT the manufacturers kept rejecting him; nobody wanted to produce his eyewear.

“People kept telling us no,” Billetz said earlier this year in a conversation with Entrepreneur Magazine.

“We didn’t have a name to us, and when you are nothing, nobody wants to work with you. And when you are trying to do something that is more difficult in a space where you are nothing, it’s difficult to work with you,”

Konrad had to search elsewhere and eventually found a factory in Italy to produce his line of eyewear. He still produces with that same factory among others.



4. Social media is your Friend - Build a Network Before you Start-up

LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter - these are all free and easy to use. Don’t underestimate the value of a good social profile. LinkedIn can be used to home in on the exact type of person you want as a distributor, manufacturer, salesperson, business partner, any persona you want to target really.


“Don't underestimate the value of a good social profile”

You can do detailed searches and grow your network with the click of a button. Strike up conversations with the right kind of people before you even start your company. Write something about the topic and share ideas. You’ll be surprised to see how much insight you can gain into the eyewear industry by just being proactive in this regard.

By the time you’re ready to start, your network will already be sizeable and organically grown without costing you an arm and a leg.

5. Keep it SIMPLE

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A common mistake is to offer potential customers too many choices less is more according to this study by Barry Schwartz. You should avoid sending your target market into a decision-making paralysis with too many options. Startup resources are limited. Focusing on providing a simple product with less choice and fewer features may be your best option, or at the very least keep the pricing simple.

Focusing on providing a simple product with less choice and fewer features may be your best option, or at the very least keep the pricing simple.

Such as the new eyewear startup from famous actors Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Piven Privé Revaux Eyewear.

David Schottenstein, founder and CEO Privé Revaux Eyewear says that:

"It’s become impossible for consumers to buy high-quality, well-made sunglasses without overspending." "We’re changing that... completely," he says in a resounding and committed tone, referring to the fact that every one of the over 100 hundred pairs of glasses for sale will be priced at $29.95 per pair.

Although they will have a pretty sizeable range of sunglasses, the pricing structure will be basic, making the overall concept in itself quite simple.

Keep it SIMPLE

You can read the full story here “Jamie Foxx And The Eyewear Brand That's Looking To Disrupt An Entire Industry.”


It’s one thing to envision a great pair of sunglasses or fresh spectacle designs, but it’s different seeing a tangible result of that vision.Your ideas could be fantastic, the design or functionality of your eyewear could be the next “Aviators,” but seeing is believing.

You have to prototype your thoughts, as soon as those ideas become something physical you can touch and look at they become a reality. If you can get ahead of that imaginary curve, you’ll be a step ahead of your competition.

Speak to your (potential) eyewear manufacturer about making a prototype for you. Some crowdfunding initiatives like MagLock have produced eyewear prototypes in their own garage. The message here is to get going and make your idea tangible as soon as possible.

7. Willingness to Observe, Listen and Learn

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Charles Darwin said it best It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

The business landscape changes constantly, and the eyewear trade is no exception. If you’re willing to observe, listen, and learn from your peers, trade experts, or someone not emotionally or financially invested in your eyewear startup (outsiders) you will be all the better for it. It’s not easy to take criticism, nobody likes it, and sometimes people can be just downright nasty, but there is always something to be learned.

Remember, you don’t have to respond to negativity, but you can go away from there and reflect and see if there is truth to what was said. And if there is something you can do to improve your business from that critique, well then you just received some excellent free advice.

Don’t lend your ears out to anyone, just keep an open mind and see how you can adapt to change. You would be doing your new eyewear business a significant favor in doing so.

Do you have any eyewear startup tips you can share with our readers? Any cautionary tales on producing eyewear in China you are willing to share?

Please let us know your thoughts, experiences, and tips by leaving a comment below.


Finding Suppliers for Eyewear Startups

Topics: Eyewear Manufacturing

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Zenobia Chan

Zenobia Chan is PEL's General Manager, and has been working in the eyewear industry for over 17 years. She has been involved in the entire supply chain from research and development, to order fulfillment, quality management, auditing and product compliance. She established PEL from scratch and is an annual seminar speaker at the MIDO and Hong Kong Optical Fair.

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