How This Independent Luxury Eyewear Brand Went Global
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
This past January, eyewear industry leader Marcolin Group announced an exclusive international distribution partnership with Los Angeles-based luxury brand Barton Perreira. Entrepreneur caught up with Barton Perreira’s co-founder and CEO Bill Barton as his company's eyewear collection began hitting shops in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South America and Mexico.
What inspired you to create Barton Perreira?
Patty Perreira and I started Barton Perreira in 2007 after working together at Oliver Peoples. OP sold to Oakley in 2006. I moved on at the closing of the sale and Patty stayed for a few months but decided that it wasn’t for her. We got together and were very confident that we could start our own brand. We wanted to continue and improve from where we left off at Oliver Peoples.
Can you explain the process of finding the right international distribution partner?
It’s a very difficult process -- that's what I can tell you! Often it's trial and error. As a startup brand you are always looking for international sales, but getting a bad distributor can be very detrimental for your brand. I would advise people to be careful and patient.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
That you have a vision for what you want to do and are willing to take the risks needed to accomplish those goals.
How did it feel the first day you opened for business?
Getting Barton Perreira to become a reality had so many different aspects that it’s hard to say there was an “opening day.” But, starting your own brand is awesome -- tons of work and scary all at the same time. Plus, once you jump on the spinning wheel it never stops!
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
We launched into retail stores in December 2007. By September of 2008, the financial markets collapsed. Business came to a halt -- for everyone. We tightened everything we could and focused on making the best product. Slowly sales picked up and by the end of 2009 things were really going in a great direction.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
Our goal is to make the best eyewear we can “without compromise.” So far so good!