I spent most of my career as president of big box mass merchandisers and specialty stores with notable optical industry stints as the founder of BJ’s optical and as consultant to the CEO of Polaroid. My work as a merchandiser required worldwide travel visiting factories, designing and developing new product categories and executing the marketing plans that would connect those products with consumers. I founded Solarna, LLC in 2015 and launched the REKS optics brand of sunglasses in 2016 as a direct to consumer company. We recently launched prescription eyewear featuring our unbreakable frames paired with High Definition Rx lenses at low direct to consumer retails.
THE GRANOFF STORY:
I visited some friends at their golf club and showed them my new sunglass prototypes. They were very enthusiastic about the design of unbreakable frames with polarized lenses for the golf community. Every golfer has complained about dropping their sunglasses, tossing them around their golf cart and travel bag and having them break-or even losing them. There was definitely a market for the REKS products for golfers-particularly at our price point. We decided to attend the Tour Edge Media Day at the PGA Merchandise Show in January of 2016 and was able to meet 125 members of the golf media and demonstrate the unique features of our sunglasses. The media was very supportive, impressed with our product and touted REKS- which resulted in a surge of sales from the golf community. Later that year, we created a partnership with Revolution Golf that featured our Wrap Around and Sling Blade models that was very successful and we have continued to develop that relationship to the point where we recently introduced prescription eyewear.
What was the genesis for REKS?
I was working with polymer materials 5 years ago related to another project and realized that I could manufacture an unbreakable optical frame. With that in mind, I visited many lens manufacturers in Asia searching for a strategic entry into the industry. We settled on polycarbonate polarized sun lenses that were sold for $160.00 each by major brands. We could sell similar lenses direct to consumer for $50.00 in an unbreakable frame and REKS was born.
How long was the process from early prototypes — to final one available for purchasers?
It was about 18 months of design, engineering, producing molds and testing before product was available for consumers.
What separates REKS from your competitors?
Our unbreakable frame is an extraordinary delivery system for any optical lens. We couple that with a commitment to provide the very best lens values. We recently introduced prescription lenses in our frames for $125 for single vision and $225 for progressives including your choice of frame, HD digital lens, anti-reflective coating and your choice of tint.
How do men and women approach purchases for sunglasses?
In the case of REKS, our customers are most interested in our unbreakable frames and extraordinary lens values. The fact that they are very lightweight and comfortable appeals to both men and women. Typically, sunglass buyers have been very interested in having a “name brand” on their frame but are not particularly brand loyal. As more consumers have become aware of the tremendous mark-up most name brand sunglasses manufacturers seek, options that provide comfort and performance have continued to gain traction.
Where is the point of emphasis for sales for REKS? Is it green grass shops, retail brick and mortar outlets or online sales?
The sunglass industry is controlled by one major company that owns LensCrafters, Sunglass Hut and most of the brands inside those stores. They are burdened by the high costs of rent and labor at mall retail stores. Our strategy was to develop a lean direct to consumer business model where we could provide substantially better values than our available in retail stores.
Customer service is touted by many companies. Define the term and the approach taken by REKS?
REKS has a 100% customer service guarantee. We immediately respond to every customer call or e-mail and do everything possible to satisfy them.
What’s the greatest challenge in creating sunglasses for golf?
Everybody has broken a pair of expensive sunglasses, especially when they’re participating in active outdoor recreation including golf, fishing, camping, skiing, biking, etc. Our initial challenge was to create an unbreakable frame. We pair that frame with a brown polycarbonate polarized lens with anti-reflective coating which we recommend as the lens that provides the best contrast for golfers.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally what would it be and why?
Historically, golf has had a reputation as a sport played by the elite or upper class “country club” types. I would love to see the sport change its image to encompass all. In the end I think that would help grow the game as well.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR, LPGA — are all seeking ways to attract new players to the sport. This is especially so for Millennials, women and minorities, If you were advising them — what counsel would you provide?
This is the $64,000 question. The negatives of golf is that it takes too long to play and is too expensive. So the governing bodies need to find a solution to make it more economical, financially and time wise, to play the game-particularly if you live in a urban setting-where quality facilities and instruction are hard to come by. I think programs like the First Tee is a great example where tomorrow’s golfers, the youths of today, can learn all that the sport offers in an inclusive, friendly and nurturing environment
The biggest short and long term challenges facing REKS is what?
Convincing consumers they can actually get high performance sunglasses or prescription glasses, with a unbreakable frame, at a fraction of the cost of name brand alternatives. Once consumers have tried our product they love it and we have a large number of repeat customers purchasing REKS for their family and friends.
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