In 2016, Hawkers needed a change. What had started out as a small idea, had ballooned into something out of control. The founders of Hawkers turned to Alejandro Betancourt Lopez for a different leadership style that was innovative yet calculated. They needed someone who wasn’t afraid to make the bold moves but was experienced enough to also make smart moves.
Alejandro Betancourt Lopez offered that leadership. By 2018, he had become the company’s biggest shareholder with a large investment of his own that resulted in 50% of the Hawkers stake. This was an exciting move that the Hawkers team supported, since Alejandro Betancourt Lopez had worked hard as President to take them to new heights.
Through his leadership, the brand was able to take their organic social media advertising approach and move it into more traditional eCommerce branding. The modern approach to grassroots marketing was paired with a stable approach to sales, distribution and customer retention.
Social media was a major part of the Hawkers business model from the very start.
Through social media marketing and advertising, the Hawkers founders had experienced success as Knockaround distributors before launching their own sunglasses company. Designing the company from scratch, the founders looked at a number of Chinese manufacturing companies before launching their Shopify store and officially starting Hawkers. Using the same guru marketing methods for Hawkers as they had to grow Knockaround, the co-founders started to see serious sales.
They gave away free sunglasses and brought in key influencers that had large followings to spread the word. They even pulled a public social media marketing stunt when two women asked them to purchase their iPhones. As the women were waiting in line for the phones, Hawkers paid a violinist and masseuse to care for the women in line as they waited—streaming the whole event to social media. Hawkers then promoted an iPhone giveaway, gaining thousands of followers.
The Hawkers Facebook page currently has over 6.6 million followers.
However, the brand goes past mere stunts and marketing tactics. It has offered undeniable value that keeps its fans around. The Hawkers approach to fashion has been about affordability, convenience and value from the start.
The company prides itself on offering eyewear that is similar to the priciest options on the market - Gucci, Ray-Ban and Dolce & Gabbana - at a fraction of the cost. Their wide selection of shades provides premium style without a hefty price tag.
Rather than trying to bring in the biggest profit for each pair, the company focused on doing everything they could to “get as many eyes as possible” on their items.
Hawkers very first investor Caleb Garrett noticed that most customers purchased three or four pairs of Hawkers at their $20-$40 price range. With the lower price tag, they could afford to have an extra pair or two in case one got lost or broken. It sold him on the idea as an early angel investor, noting: “You don’t have to screw people to have a great product.”
With that same mentality, Hawkers has entered the prescription contact lens market.
The vision for the new venture is grounded on the same approach to quality without price inflation. The Hawkers website explains, “Daily contact lenses are not very expensive to produce. The overhead of inefficient business models just makes it seem like they are.”
Slashing the price from 18-20 euros to 12.50 euros per box of 30, Hawkers has once again managed to offer an economical and convenient solution that will revolutionize the market.
Hawkers President Alejandro Betancourt Lopez spent the past three years methodically researching the contact lens world to fully understand the options. His personal approach has always been, “Always surround yourself with good people and build teams that deliver high performance.”
So, Betancourt Lopez has made finding those good teams a high priority with the expansion of services. By acquiring Loopas, Hawkers is able to make use of a prepared system for distribution and logistics. Hawkers Director of Communications Alberto Chávez said, “The acquisition of Loopas assets allows us to grow in the optical sector by increasing our product offering—in this case daily contact lenses—for our current customers, allowing us to incorporate new consumers who will benefit from our traditional offer of sun and optics.”
Hawkers has chosen to partner with a European manufacturer that has over 40 years of experience in lens creation and holds the highest production standards. Betancourt Lopez chose to manufacture the contacts in Europe because the Hawkers team felt it offered the highest quality product.
During a time when so many are staying home and avoiding brick-and-mortar locations, the online model is a perfect fit. Rather than hassle with regular shopping, customers can subscribe and save on their daily contact lenses. Hawkers contact lenses work for prescriptions fixing both myopia and hyperopia. The high-quality lenses are among the softest and most comfortable—made to retain moisture longer and breathable for healthier eyes.
This move into prescription contact lenses is a smart one for the company. The brand decided to increase its reach by going beyond fashionwear and into vision health when it started offering prescription glasses. “Our bank account should not determine the health of our eyes,” says the Hawkers website. Adding contacts to their sunglasses and prescription glasses closes their product loop for a well-rounded business model.