I never thought that lookielous would not be a big success. I had the idea a year before I actually went for it. I thought certainly someone had already done it. I mean glasses as a hairband is a no brainer. I could not believe that it had not been done and saw this a sure fire thing.
Really I can partially blame Seth Godin, as he is a very powerful motivator. I had read his books and his blog for several years, so I was excited when he was giving a talk in Atlanta and I got tickets.
At the time I had for 17 years, owned and operated a Home staging company. Homestaging is now a household word, but trust me, in 1995 it was not. Let me remind you that in 1995 few people even had email addresses. I had painstakingly started a business, and created a market. I knew little about real estate and staging but, learned as I went along. Year by year managed to increase sales, and my earnings to a more than decent living, working VERY VERY hard. In doing so, I created an business model, marketed said model, learned to price, package and execute the concept. Seth told me I was not an entrepreneur, but a consultant. I really fancied myself a entrepreneur, so this was ego deflating. Also, entrepreneurs wear bow ties and talk tech language. Now a business God had spoken, I was not an entrepreneur, I believed him. It was a bit shaming, but I had a lot of shame (for everything) so I took that as a cue to do something REALLY entrepreneurial.
My pal Kristie had met me in Atlanta and was going to drive back to Nashville for a visit. On the drive home we discussed business ideas and the hairband reading glasses idea won.
Within weeks we had a prototype, a business plan, and started raising money to do lookie lous.
I was super energized by the work and had no problem working my day job and doing lookielous at night. I eventually sold my home staging company to offset my mounting debt from a recession, and divorce.
I found a manufacturer, secured the deal, got the product patented and the name trademarked. Had wonderful photo shoots, worked on lovely graphics and packaging. Things were moving on!! I am an entrepreneur!! Sent Seth an email. Ego back!!!
I did trade shows, some were wildly successful and others were complete and utter duds. I opened 100 accounts that first year.
Advertising broke even, and online sales were trickling in.
I realized after that first year that lookielous were seen as a novelty item. Like a snugli, but not as good. Buyers were not committed to the product, buying only once for fun, but I would not be building a business. Also, the product is not obvious. Even though our display eventually spelled it out, the consumer has to be told “they are reading glasses” .
In the interim we had some complaints. The nose piece was a little sharp. I had the manufacture revise that mold ($$$) and remedied that problem.
Lori Weiss did a terrific piece in Huffington post on lookielous and me. What a great day for lookielous! Our website had over 150,000 hits and it was our best sales day to date. Proving that if people hear about lookielous, they will buy them. Many of those customers continue to order today.
Here is the deal, lookie lous are really, really convenient. I overestimated that people would adapt to a new way to having your readers when you need them. Everyday, and everywhere I go I see folks with their reading glasses on their heads, tucked in a shirt or in their hand. If you wear reading glasses you simply cannot read without them. It seems people would rather be inconvenienced than adapt to a new way. Or maybe they are just too weird looking a la Google glass.
Money ran out, fundraising could not continue. My staff on two moved away for other ventures and I never rehired. I defaulted back to home design work.
Today, I am going to try to start to reconcile what to do next. Thanking the universe for my pal, Ginger, who also happens to be a master life coach, http://gingermoran.com/ , for reaching across states to keep me from drowning in my post menopausal despair. Let’s see what happens. Ego out.