Hawkers Co: Taking the Sunglasses Company to New Heights
In just a couple of years, Hawkers has sold millions of units worldwide. Though Hawkers is fairly new to the commercial sunglass marketplace, they are now being discussed with the same respect and prominence as long-established sunglass brands and market leaders such as Ray-Ban and Oakley.
The growth of Hawkers shows no signs of slowing down either, especially since the company is doing all the right things, such as making a product that appeals to all ages and marketing them according to personal interests and styles. Their stylish glasses are constructed out of light, quality materials, but are always priced affordably. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and lenses, making it easy for people to buy several in order to better accessorize with any given outfit or occasion.
Hawkers is also known for using a blend of modern and traditional marketing channels to promote their products — combining social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, with the tried and true method of word-of-mouth.
The company especially benefits from endorsements by prominent influencers, like elite athletes, musicians, technology leaders and film stars. These are not necessarily solicited formal testimonials or paid product placement agreements either, but organic opportunities that show a celebrity enjoying the brand when they’re out in public or at industry events.
Much of the success of Hawkers is due to the product itself, but current leadership has also played an important part, especially the efforts of President Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, who has transformed the niche sunglass brand based in Spain into a brand that is now recognizable throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.
Although Betancourt Lopez did not start the company, he was brought in with a group of investors in 2016 to help stabilize Hawkers financially and provide an influx of external funding to grow the brand and increase its reach. At the time, word was already getting out about its reputation for quality sunglasses at affordable prices. The company was praised in 2015 for starting two years earlier with a small $300 investment and leveraging it into $60 million. However, even though this number was certainly impressive, expenses continued to climb, and the company was in danger of shutting down.
The financial situation and the appeal of helping a rising brand eventually brought Betancourt Lopez and a group of investors to the table. They formed a group called Saldum Ventures and injected $56 million (50 million euros) into Hawkers.
Betancourt Lopez, an entrepreneur and angel investor from Venezuela, was given the reins of the company and asked to take control. Since then, with his recommendation, the company hired Nacho Puig as CEO , and both are providing necessary leadership, style knowledge and contacts around the world.
Puig and Betancourt Lopez have been especially instrumental in putting together collaboration deals with other fashion brands with the foresight that a style-conscious shopper interested in the right apparel may want to complete their style ensemble by adding a pair of Hawkers. A deal with Spanish clothing line El Ganso to have Hawkers be part of a style collection increased overall engagement by 86 percent.
Hawker’s Humble Beginnings
Hawkers had its start in Elche, Spain, in 2013 when founders Alejandro and David Moreno, brothers, brought in Caleb Garrett, a promoter from Los Angeles, along with colleagues Pablo Sanchez and Inaki Soriano.
They came up with a way to manufacture a lightweight but sturdy type of sunglasses using polycarbon frames. They also wanted to avoid what they thought was an inefficient but traditional model of selling to wholesalers — which will then sell to retailers and finally to the public, marking up prices every step of the way.
Moreno and Garrett’s $300 investment paid for a basic web site and a prototype pair of sunglasses. They also arranged manufacturing operation at the same factory that makes the high-end brand Luxxotica.
Hawkers’ big push was affordability and Moreno regularly got the word out by generating a variety of Facebook ads offering these good-looking and sturdy shades for as low as $40 a piece, a price that got attention in an industry where people were used to paying hundreds of dollars for a single pair of high end sunglasses. The company eventually did so well through Facebook orders that the social network invited Hawker’s officials to discuss their marketing strategies to other entrepreneurs.
They also offered similar promotional efforts through Twitter, which used the company as a case study for ways in which a business can use that channel to grow.
Moreno and Garrett also sought partnerships with entertainers to display their glasses and collaborated on online and social media ads. Eventually the costs grew, along with a need to scale larger, so they began looking for financial backers.
Hawkers came to Betancourt Lopez ‘s attention in 2016, and he put together a group of Spanish investors with the goal of turning Hawkers into a strong international fashion brand. Investors included Felix Ruiz and Hugo Arevalo, the founders of Tuenti, a Spanish-based social network.
About Betancourt Lopez
Betancourt Lopez earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and business administration from Suffolk University in Massachusetts. He has owned his own businesses as well been a manager at a variety of energy companies and manufacturers in Latin America and Africa.
His professional accomplishments include being a manager at Guruceaga Group and BGB Energy and the Latin American commercial manager for ICC-OEOC, which provides solutions for the offshore oil industry. He is also the founder of O’Hara Administration, an international asset management company that looks for investment projects around the world.
O’Hara became involved with Pacific Exploration and Production Corporation, a Latin American oil company that has a presence in Venezuela, Peru, and Mexico. Betancourt Lopez became board director and owns 20 percent of its stock.
His investment efforts have also helped in the creation of Banque du Dakar, a bank based in Senegal that increases banking services in Africa.
The financial support from Saldum Ventures and other investors has improved stability and reach for Hawkers. In the first year of the leadership model, Hawkers became profitable, a trend that continues today.
Hawkers plans to continue the direct-to-consumer approach, primarily focusing on social media and online orders through its own site. This provides significant global reach to targeted shoppers, but keeps marketing costs significantly down, especially when compared to more prominent digital or legacy media campaigns.
More than 3.5 million pairs of Hawkers have been sold in 50 countries as of 2017 to all ages, although the target demographic is the style-conscious millennial, at around 27 years old.
Company officials also have announced plans to use the financing to fund additional research and development into different types of materials, new marketing efforts, and new efforts to increase partnerships and collaborations with other brands.
They are also producing sunglasses at several factories around the world, including China.
With the expertise of Lopez and Puig, who has a background in branding and strategic planning in sports and fashion, the company seems to have the tools it needs to continue growing globally.
Click here to learn more about Alejandro Betancourt Lopez >>
Originally published at http://professionaltales.com on December 2, 2019.