Every industry, big or small, is ripe for disruption. Several years ago, that's exactly what Warby Parker did with the eyewear business, changing how consumers shop for and purchase glasses by providing stylish, inexpensive glasses. The idea at the time, despite seeming overly simple, was a catalyst that opened a whole world of opportunity for innovators looking to change the sunglasses business.
Until Warby Parker burst onto the scene, there were only a few options available for eyewear customers. If you wanted a pair of glasses, you had to choose between expensive brand names or cheap convenience store frames that didn't last very long. For decades, brand name eyewear has been dominated by only a couple large players (like Luxottica) who own the rights and licensing to the majority of the world's largest brand names. Eyewear consumers find themselves caught in a spending cycle that punishes them for losing their sunglasses, and customers aren't shy about spending more cash to replace their brand name shades.
Imagine replacing your Chanel sunglasses with plastic frames from the convenience store down the street. Not quite the same. You could just as easily drop another couple hundred dollars to replace those Chanel sunglasses, but what happens the next time you lose or break them? People don't want to be hindered by the loss of their glasses, but they also don't want to settle for something cheap or of lesser quality.
Ellison Sunglasses resolves the buyer's dilemma by providing affordable, high-end sunglasses that are beautifully crafted in Greece. It started when the founder, Aristotle Loumis, lost his own sunglasses while traveling abroad and realized this was a common annoyance that wasn't being addressed by major eyewear companies. "I noticed brands far and wide were stuck in outdated, conventional practices and I always questioned why no one dared to develop an eyewear line that truly stood out," says Loumis. "We sought to create the highest quality eyewear line on the market: bold and beautiful, classically designed with modern twists, with each pair and traveler telling a unique story." Ellison Sunglasses are made in Greece, with the finest Italian parts and lens crafted by Carl Zeiss, in a manufacturer that currently employs two dozen people. When you buy a pair of Ellison glasses, you know it's not mass-produced in a factory that makes twenty other brand name shades.
Instead of being paranoid about losing your sunglasses, Club Ellison, Loumis' latest creation, encourages people to get out there and explore the world with their new clubs' mantra "Don't Worry, Get Lost." The first of its kind, Club Ellison is an online membership that provides customers access to affordable, high-quality sunglasses at exclusive membership pricing.The premise is simple, but effective. For $10, you gain access to 50% off all sunglasses if you lose, break or have your Ellison shades stolen. "Rebels and visionaries shouldn't be punished for getting out and exploring the world, but rather celebrated for that behavior," mentions Loumis. "That's the inspiration behind Club Ellison. We want our products to empower people to tap into their adventurous spirit, with the underlying message: 'Don't Worry, Get Lost.'" And for those looking to give back, Ellison has you covered too. Each pair of glasses purchased helps fund organizations that work to stop preventable blindness and half of all membership fees are donated to a similar nonprofit.
Customers today are used to having options when it comes to consumer goods. If we want a particular product, we like having the option of picking and choosing which brand fits our personal preferences. And brand loyalty is playing less and less of a deciding factor when we make big purchasing decisions. Customers are becoming wiser and more diverse with their purchasing habits; it's no longer enough to slap a high-end brand name on a product and expect people to buy it instantly. Brands and manufacturers need to earn trust by sticking to authenticity and the ones that will succeed are the true innovators of their industry. It's what differentiates Club Ellison from the Gucci's and Prada's of the sunglasses world. Ellison Sunglasses promises handcrafted glasses that won't break the bank and doesn't punish wearers for misplacing their shades while they're out living life.
In 2010, Warby Parker changed how people shop for glasses with their unique trial package and by introducing inexpensive price points for all types of eyewear. Ellison Sunglasses found a common problem that needed fixing and created a solution that people will indulge in and actually pay for. At the end of the day, entrepreneurs are changing how consumers approach every day purchases in established industries and are working to improve the overall customer experience. Even industries like eyewear breed innovation; all it takes is a single idea and a passion for change.