Caleb Garrett was in Barcelona on his way to Ibiza when a stranger offered him a free pair of Hawkers Co. sunglasses to try. It was good timing, since he’d accidentally just sat on his own.
Three weeks later he was back in Los Angeles sitting at a table in a nightclub when he was handed another pair of the same brand’s sunglasses and a pitch to invest.
“I have invested in a bunch of tech companies and started a bunch,” Garrett said. “This wasn’t something I was looking to do.”
But after the company opened its books to his accountant, Garrett wound up one of five partners in Hawkers and is now overseeing the European eyewear brand’s rollout Stateside.
“I really like brands that are attainable by everybody,” he said. “I remember asking my parents for stuff when I was younger, things that were not really attainable. I never really understood what made that product cool. Why is a $200 or $300 pair of jeans cool when I could buy a $40 pair of Levi’s and still be cool? [Hawkers] stayed true to that $20 to $40 price point.”
The relative newcomer to the market had sales of $15 million last year in its first full year in business and is on track to do $60 million this year, which equates to 2.5 million pairs of sunglasses sold. The average transaction is two to three pairs, according to Garrett.
The company sells only direct-to-consumer, although wholesale is not entirely out of the question in the future, according to Garrett.
One of the factors that allowed Hawkers to grow so quickly was its use of Facebook advertising initially to go after 18- to 35-year-olds in Spain and Italy.
The company’s sunglasses are sold in six markets and it quietly began its rollout in the U.S. late last month.
Hawkers operates in the competitive eyewear market dominated by Luxottica and its stable of long-standing brands, such as Oakley and Ray-Ban, along with retailers Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters. That didn’t deter the partners from launching the company, with their competitive pricing something they hope can distinguish the brand from others.
“We found that the industry seems to have been monopolized for a long time by huge companies that sold their product at an incredible markup,” said partner and ceo Alex Moreno. “We wanted to offer a product of equal, if not better, quality direct-to-consumer, allowing us to sell at a very low price point….”
Hawkers currently counts 60 workers with headquarters in Spain.