Kevin Hundert, founder of Made Eyewear, takes the family business he learned from his father and grandfather to the next level by shifting the focus to custom eyewear sold online.
After working for a couple years at Rem Eyewear, Kevin Hundert started looking into innovative business models that he thought the eyewear industry desperately needed. He found the online direct-to-consumer model as having the most potential for massive growth but didn’t want to enter that space as just another cookie cutter online retailer. The solution struck him after he went to China to learn the manufacturing side of the business.
“I worked in pretty much every department from acetate production to soldering to sample making,” he said. “I quickly realized that with the right manufacturing capabilities, it was very possible to bring custom eyewear to a mass market via the direct-to-consumer online channel.”
CUSTOM-MADE FOR ALL
From the shape and color of the frame, the color of the temples (even choosing different colors for the left and right sides), engraving the stems, to plano or prescription lenses, Made helps consumers create one-of-a-kind frames online. Made owns its factory, so it can fill custom orders at low prices, Hundert said.
Another difference that sets Made apart from the competition: Home try-on orders are delivered with prescription lenses. When someone places a home try-on order, they receive a brand new frame with their actual Rx, not a sample that other people have tried on.
“There are two major advantages of this process compared to our competitors,” said Hundert. “One, when customers receive their order and try them on at home, they can actually see what they look like in the mirror. Two, if they like them, they just keep them. No reordering the frames with the prescription, and no charge for returning frames that don’t work out.”
E-COMMERCE VS. TRADITIONAL SALES
The majority of Made’s customers are Millennials, but Hundert said it does seem to be an attractive concept to all generations. “What it really boils down to is that we’re dealing directly with a consumer who is accustomed to buying things via Amazon, Zappos and every other major online retailer,” he explained. “They have no time, zero patience and expect perfection. We don’t have a sales force that can knock on doors or call on accounts. We just have some pretty pictures and about five seconds to draw people in before they hit the back button and find the next link on Google.”
PARTNERING WITH ECPs
Made is starting to work with eyecare professionals (ECPs) to complete the omni-channel experience consumers demand. Hundert explained that ECPs that have Made on their boards will instantly gain access to the e-commerce platform, which means their customers will have access to 24/7 ordering, something that Millennials are accustomed to. In addition, they’ll be included in a dealer locator on the website, and any orders received that are shipped to someone within their zip code will get a card in their box directing them to that ECP for eye exams, adjustments and any future needs. “We’re essentially working with ECPs to be our boots on the ground,” he said. “It’s a partnership as opposed to a supplier-customer relationship.”
Joanne Van Zuidam is senior editor of VCPN.