What happens when you rethink a market? Most of the time, you can find gaps in the market just waiting to be filled. When Alejandro Betancourt was asked to help with Hawkers, he quickly saw they were diving in headfirst to fill a longtime gap in the eyewear market.
For years, there were two major ends to the sunglasses world: glasses that were incredibly expensive, celebrity-lauded and quality-made—OR glasses that were cheap, looked cheap and broke easily.
The gap between the two markets was clear.
Sunglasses that were stylish, well-made and branded—AND inexpensive. It seemed so simple, but brands often navigate toward top price points or low-value materials. Navigating that middle line—to bring quality at a lower price point—has proven to be a difficult line for many brands to walk.
Hawkers wanted to break into the market with sunglasses options that could compete with the top designer styles at a fraction of the cost. They successfully launched a brand that grew wildly popular across social media. Alejandro Betancourt became the investor supplying funding in 2016. By 2018, he became the controlling shareholder and president of Hawkers.
Under the leadership of Betancourt, Hawkers has expanded its offerings. One major move included high-quality contact lenses provided on a subscription basis.
Changing Up the Sunglasses Market—Yet Again
The newest line of sunglasses is the first eco-friendly line coming from the company.
H20 is the Hawkers collection of sunglasses designed to be environmentally responsible. The frames and lenses are made from biodegradable materials, so they will break down within 5 years when they are eventually thrown away. This feature is important, since plastic can take 1,000 years to decompose.
It is important to many that they have less of a throwaway attitude about their quality accessories. Hawkers are not the cheap $5 glasses you grab at the local gas station and toss by the end of the month. At the same time, Hawkers are a fraction of the price of designer glasses, making it easy to purchase a few pairs at a time.
H2O sunglasses are lightweight and durable. When a pair does eventually break or wear down, customers can now feel good about an item that will decompose hundreds of times faster than frames from competing brands.
In fact, the sunglasses were created from the disposable plastics that are filling the oceans. Hawkers states, “tens of thousands of plastic bottles which had been littering the ocean were collected in order to manufacture this limited-edition collection, helping to reduce microplastic contamination of aquatic life. That’s why we named it H2O.”
The limited-edition H2O line is created with a combination of recycled plastics and biodegradable materials to create the eco-friendly glasses.
But, Alejandro Betancourt and the Hawkers design team didn’t stop there.
The H2O line also features 100% sustainable packaging. This includes a recycled (and recyclable) box sent in a biodegradable polybag. The glasses are encased in a pouch made from recycled plastic bottles removed from the ocean. Any paperwork or marketing materials are created with recycled (and recyclable) paper.
“We know from first-hand experience how to revolutionize the eyewear industry,” says the Hawkers site. “So, we also recognize that—having become market leaders—it’s also our responsibility to lead by example by promoting sustainability.”
Appealing to the Environmentally Conscious Crowd
The video on the site features two surfers on the beach wearing Hawkers H2O shades with sweeping views of the beautiful ocean scenery. It’s clear whom the audience of this line is for—those invested in protecting natural habitats from destructive purchasing habits. The glasses look stylish and chic, while fitting in naturally in the environment.
Six select pairs are currently featured on the site at a special introductory price. The styles and colors provide a wide range of options that will fit different style preferences.
This move makes sense from a number of standpoints. Not only is it good for the environment by helping to reduce waste—it is also a consumer perspective that is growing in popularity. Nearly 80% of the world’s consumer population say they value sustainable practices, and over 70% are willing to pay a higher price to support an eco-friendly brand, according to research from Barron’s. Younger customers report this demand for environmentally conscious products at an even higher level.
Brands that want to appeal to the younger generations need to keep their global footprint in check. From reducing factory energy use to creating sustainable products, companies have a lot of areas where they can focus their attention for an Earth-friendly approach.
Alejandro Betancourt has participated in World Beach Rescue Day as an environmentally conscious individual outside of company policy. He started the Green Program to help with deforestation by encouraging replanting and energy efficiency.
Disturbing the Eyewear Market
Betancourt feels as if there is a lot more value here than just the money of a sound business investment. He wants to be part of revolutionizing the accessory market—specifically eyewear.
The company was started in Spain with a $300 investment and a dream. It has now grown to supply stylish lenses to Asia, Europe and North America. Hawkers makes it clear: The company exists to throw a wrench in the eyewear fashion industry.
Betancourt felt the direction was a solid investment worth putting his time and energy into. His leadership has helped the company recover from some early losses and maintain solid growth.