Hawkers was already considered a decent idea even before Alejandro Betancourt Lopez came on board: durable sunglasses that look great but don’t have designer-brand price tags.
When the company launched less than a decade ago, sunglass shoppers really had only two choices. One was to pay top prices for a brand name pair or pay just a little for something that worked adequately but usually looked cheap.
There were pros and cons to each type, too: the more affordable ones were usually low quality and quick to break, but still, it was hard to get to upset about it since you paid so little. But if you damaged or lost your fancy ones, you’d be losing your investment.
The four principals who started the company in 2013 were all friends from Alicante, Spain. They collectively felt that Hawkers could offer the best of both worlds with high-quality products that looked good but were inexpensive, letting people pay very little to look stylish.
The fact that Hawkers came with different interchangeable lenses in different colors and shades meant they could be part of anyone’s fashion ensemble, rather than just a functional tool to reduce brightness.
Early marketing efforts included attempts to get Hawkers in the hands of various influencers, including actors, actresses, producers, directors and even prominent athletes. The hope was that as more notable, style-conscious people were spotted wearing them, it would catch the attention of others, and so on and so on.
At the same time, the Hawkers marketing teams also put them in the hands of behind-the-scenes style experts, such as photographers, designers, wardrobe managers, publishers, personal stylists and more. When someone was determining the right eyewear look for a model, it was easy to suggest Hawkers, which further expanded their reach.
This strategy turned out to be quite successful, and soon they were spotted at style events, award shows, red-carpet events and more. Sometimes the model kept their Hawkers after a shoot; sometimes they went out and bought their own because they liked the look and wanted more choices in lenses.
Hawkers became appealing to all ages and styles and were also found to be accessible for people who wanted to look like a superstar without having the budget for it. They were even called revolutionary for how they disrupted the fairly unchanging sunglasses world.
Betancourt Lopez joins
Around 2016, the growing popularity of Hawkers worldwide soon caught the attention of Alejandro Betancourt Lopez, known as someone eager to get involved in all sorts of ways to benefit the greater good.
The entrepreneur brought a background in economics and business and had a successful track record of seeking out projects that are innovative and contribute to the future.
For instance, he previously was the co-founder of an energy firm that had a goal of bringing thermonuclear power to his home country. Over the course of several years, Betancourt Lopez was actively involved in all aspects of engineering, procurement and the actual construction of as many as 11 thermonuclear plants.
This energy source provided power to more than 70,000 families. The plants also provided employment for hundreds.
Following this venture, Betancourt Lopez was asked to be part of O’Hara Administration, an asset management company that invested in global development projects, including an internet firm, a petroleum company and a bank.
Being able to provide resources and expertise to help other companies grow inspired him to pursue his own projects. He founded the Green Program, which encourages energy efficiency and reforestation efforts. He also became involved in World Beach Rescue Day, an annual event that promoted beautification efforts at places that everyone can appreciate.
When Betancourt Lopez joined Hawkers, he supplied needed capital to help the company grow at a larger scale. He also was part of efforts to encourage even more non-traditional ways of getting the sunglasses in people’s hands.
For instance, the company rarely purchases traditional display advertising such as in newspapers or TV. It also doesn’t sell wholesale to other retailers or optical professionals.
Instead, it focuses a big part of its efforts on online sales, especially through social media channels. For instance, it has an active Facebook Ads program, which has been called “an e-commerce beast” due to its scale, complexity and profitability.
The company uses many of the available tools in the Facebook Ads program, including targeting of ideal customers with factors such as gender, interests and more; re-targeting, where they’ll continue to see Hawkers ads; and the ability to create similar audiences.
They also focused on young people, especially those interested in style and following trends. At the same time, the ideal customers look for ways to save money, so there are always opportunities to see sale prices or find rebates.
With Betancourt Lopez’s encouragement, Hawkers accelerated many of these efforts, including more efforts to gain visibility. This went beyond hoping celebrities would enjoy Hawkers to actively putting contract deals together with influencers. These financial arrangements can include company stock, discounts and a commission for every pair sold.
Hawkers also expanded a college word-of-mouth program, where certain students are asked to be brand ambassadors. This also ups the “cool” factor for students who look up to these ambassadors for style advice. Participants also can receive various prizes and incentives for their efforts, everything from event tickets to travel vouchers.
The company also looked for other ways to build buzz beyond traditional advertising such as sponsoring sports teams.
It also uses the Deluxe Plus version of Shopify, a popular e-commerce platform. It processes more than 10 million orders a day.
The company has grown dramatically from four guys importing and reselling specialty sunglasses from the U.S. while they developed their own brand.
Through a combination of savvy online advertising and social media presence combined with high demand for quality products, Hawkers now has sold more than $70 million/60 million Euros worth of sunglasses, with nearly 90 percent from social media sales.
Like Betancourt Lopez’s earlier projects, he continues to look for ways to use the success of one company or organisation to benefit the greater good.
One perfect example is H20, a new line of Hawkers sunglasses, which are made from sustainable materials and discarded plastic that has been salvaged from various oceans around the planet.
These eco-friendly glasses show that every company can and should make a difference. Each set of glasses, in different colors and styles, also come in a sustainable package.
The H20 product line is considered the first step in a larger global conservation emphasis and commitment to the planet. Customers will have the opportunity to wear a stylish limited-edition product while simultaneously having an indirect role in cleaning the world’s oceans and waterways.
Betancourt Lopez has emphasised how positive H2O is. The plastic collected to make these items, especially bottles, can no longer cause harm in oceans and seas. This helps in a variety of ways, including enhancing water quality and reducing microplastics from leaching into the soil.
Overall, Hawkers has created an interesting dynamic between financial success and global commitment.