Start a sunglasses line by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your sunglasses line. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a sunglasses line?
Your personal costs will be dependent on your location and the materials you choose to use. Higher end materials, such as acetate or plating, will inherently cost more to use in your production line. When it comes to your website, you’ll likely want to invest in a professional design if you hope to attract those with higher incomes. A basic DIY website may run you only a few hundred dollars a year (or less), but it may not be as welcoming for your customers.
What are the ongoing expenses for a sunglasses line?
Sunglass line owners can prepare their budgets based on the following:
- Raw material costs
Retail space costs
Salaries for employees
Who is the target market?
Usually the people who buy designer sunglasses are those who are devoted to fashion and have a good deal of disposable income. Those who want the cheaper sunglasses are likely to buy knock-off luxury brands at kiosks, or to shop at major retailers such as Wal-Mart or Target.
How does a sunglasses line make money?
Sunglass lines make money by charging a profit margin on each pair sold. The more popular and rare a particular product is, the higher the profit margin can go.
How much can you charge customers?
The top sunglasses can be sold for $400,000 or more, though the average line sells for between $100 and $300.
How much profit can a sunglasses line make?
Sunglasses famously have some of the best profit margins a business owner could hope for. Luxottica famously makes about $.52 of profit for every dollar spent on their sunglasses — and that’s including all of their marketing and royalty expenses. If you operated at roughly the same profit margin, you'd only need to sell 1,000 pairs at $150 to make $75,000 in profit.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Sunglass line owners may also consider designing their own clothing or other high-end accessories to supplement their line. Be aware though that making your own clothing requires state or local licenses.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Sunglasses Line Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your sunglasses line is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a sunglasses line. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market a sunglasses line
You should be marketing your sunglass line in a way that fits your brand and speaks to your particular audience. Websites usually show fashionable, young people looking sporty or chic in their frames. Set your frames apart by finding a unique angle. For example, donate a portion of sales to countries in need of better eyecare for their people.
Ensure that the retailers you form a relationship with promote your particular brand values, so your goods aren’t confused with lower-end brands. Update your website with new looks, and consider an email list for every new design you debut on the market.
How to keep customers coming back
Your sunglasses will first and foremost have to strike a nerve with the fashion sense of your audience. You'll also need to offer consistent and excellent customer service, as well as quality sunglasses that last for years.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Sunglasses Line In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
The right owner will have an excellent eye for design and style. Sunglasses are as much about fashion as they are about protection from UV rays. An ideal owner will create a unique look that still manages to fit the popular trends of the day. An owner should also have a certain amount of people skills, as they may need to network with manufacturers and distributors.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a sunglasses line?
A sunglass line owner may have the following daily responsibilities:
- Designing eyewear
- Production of sunglasses
- Creating/maintaining relationships with distributors
- Researching new methods of production
- Marketing the line
- Updating website
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful sunglasses line?
You do not need to be an eyewear designer in order to start a sunglass line, though you should understand the process of how a sketch of an idea turns into a packaged product. Successful people may have a design background in clothing or even in furniture. The key is to understand the supply chain so that you can maximize your profits.
What is the growth potential for a sunglasses line?
The world of fashion is a fairly competitive one, though there is always a need for quality designers offering a viable product in their industry. The public is open to embracing a new brand if they can market themselves correctly and prove themselves to be trendy enough.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a sunglasses line?
A smart sunglass designer understands how different faces benefit from different designs. They’ll study facial features, head shapes, and color contrast to get a solid idea of who benefits from what. Even the cheapest pair of sunglasses offers protection from the burning sun above, which manes people are usually buying designer shades to complete an outfit or to complement their overall look.
A small pair of sunglasses may be right for a conservative work outfit, while a larger pair will look right paired with a bathing suit. The differences between brands are measured in millimeters, so designers need to have a high degree of accuracy. To face their competition, concentrate on how to make your eyewear interesting enough to stand out but not so unusual that it turns the public off.
A sunglass line will take a lot of precision to get off the ground. Each manufacturer will have their own take on the production process, and it's imperative to understand the nuances between each type. You also need to find the right distributors for your sunglass line. A lone store will only be able to be so successful, so either diversify by going online or by having your shades sold in high-end department stores or fashion boutiques.
Finally, be careful about entering this industry. Designer sunglasses lost some of its luster due to the popularity of prescription pairs, and it's also had the market cornered for many years. Most designer brands are actually owned by the same umbrella brand (Luxottica). This domination can be difficult to find a foothold for an up-and-comer. The good news is that it also creates a bit of a vacuum in terms of the variety on offer. Look for ways to connect with your audience, whether it's by promoting social change or challenging the standards of your business today.
How and when to build a team
Most sunglass line designers can operate on their own until they have a large enough client base to sustain themselves. Once they outgrow a one-man operation, a designer will need either associate designers to keep up with new demand, or retail employees if they have their own stores.