Today I present another written interview with Lisa Carnes, CEO of Aloha Eyes.
Check out the interview:
1. How did you get started selling reading glasses online?
As a young woman I was lucky to have 20-20 vision, but in my early 40s I began to need readers. Fortunately for me, I discovered that I love wearing glasses. All the different colors, patterns, and shapes are so much fun to play with. About eight years ago, I decided to turn my passion for eyewear into a full-time business and it is the best thing I’ve ever done. By now I know my customers inside out. They want to look and feel youthful, attractive and stylish. I get excited watching new trends in the industry and making sure that I am picking gorgeous colors and shapes. I just love doing it! Creating and selling reading glasses and sunglasses online has been an exhilarating adventure for me. That’s why think “Adventures in Eyewear” is the perfect tag for Aloha Eyes. It is especially rewarding when I wear a pair of readers or sunglasses of my own design and people stop me on the street and asked me “Where did you get those gorgeous glasses?”
2. What’s a common mistake people make when they pick out a new pair of reading glasses?
The biggest mistake is what I call “vanity factor.” People tend to order a lower power than they realistically need because it makes them feel young.
Another misconception is that if your eye doctor gives you a prescription for reading glasses you can damage your vision by using a lower or stronger power. This is just not true. Wearing readers is equivalent to using a magnifying glass to read. Reading glasses will not cause your vision to deteriorate, no matter what power you use.
I recommend using an eye chart to determine the level of comfort you actually feel when reading. Eye charts can be found almost anywhere reading glasses are sold, including websites and drugstores. Just make sure that you feel comfortable when you’re reading, not straining your eyes to see, or feeling dizzy from too much power. That’s the basic trick.
3. What’s one of your most effective channels or mechanisms for gaining new clients?
There is an old truism that word-of-mouth is the best advertising. Our customers are fantastic. We get a lot of business by referrals from people who really love wearing our glasses. Social media is a great way to spread the word.
What one piece of advice would you provide to someone considering starting a reading glass business?
Do your homework, start small, and get a lot of feedback from your customers to see what they do and do not like. It’s a big mistake to start with too many styles and assume that they will all be popular. People are very particular about what like to wear on their face.
4. What’s one mistake you made, and how did you recover from it?
The biggest mistake I made when I first started the company is that the business was growing very fast but I was trying to do everything by myself. I always felt like I was running behind and getting burned out. I finally had to ask for help, and happily my son decided to partner with me, which was really a great relief. We hired people to take care of the everyday chores, and thus we are now able to offer a world-class level of customer service. This also freed up my time so I am able to focus on the creative processes that are needed to run a successful business.
5. What’s next for Aloha Eyes?
We are adding a whole new concept to our line of eyewear: optical frames for people who wear prescription eyeglasses. For years we have noticed that optical stores offer frames which are very similar in quality and construction to those of our ready-to-wear reading glasses and sunglasses, and at very inflated prices. This year we will offer prescription quality frames which are very affordable. We just returned from a trip to Milan where we met with some of the top level movers and shakers in the optical industry. They are assisting us with the design and manufacturing of some very innovative and attractive RX-able frames. We will not manufacturer the prescription lenses, however, our customers can simply take their new frames along with a copy of their eye doctor’s prescription to any eyewear store, like Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club, to have the lenses put in. I think they will be happily surprised when they wind up with a brand-new pair of high quality eyeglasses for under a hundred dollars! We are very excited about this, and I think our customers are going to love them.