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How to Start a Sunglasses Line

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Sunglasses Line

Fast Facts

Investment range

$3,850 - $8,600

Revenue potential

$65,000 - $438,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 months

Profit potential

$45,000 - $175,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

People wear sunglasses to block the glare of the sun, to make a fashion statement or just to look cool. Many are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for shades from the likes of Maui Jim or Oliver Peoples. If you have a creative streak and a strong sense of style, you could design your own line of high-end sunglasses and cash in on the $23 billion global eyewear industry. 

But first you should put on your reading glasses and do some business homework. In this step-by-step guide, you’ll find everything you need to know to start your own sunglasses line.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a sunglasses line business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Huge Markups – Manufacture for $10 to $15, sell for much more
  • Show Your Style – Let your creative juices flow
  • Low Startup Costs – Brick-and-mortar store not required

Cons

  • Stiff Competition – Thousands of sunglasses lines already in business
  • Manufacturer Needed – Finding a reliable producer can be a challenge

Sunglasses industry trends

Industry size and growth

sunglasses industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

sunglasses industry Trends and Challenges

Trends in the sunglasses industry include:

  • Slim, rectangular sunglasses are trending, as well as sunglasses with neon-colored lenses. Black frames and white frames are doing well, as opposed to bright colors.
  • Oversized sunglasses, reminiscent of the 70s, remain popular.

Challenges in the sunglasses industry include:

  • Counterfeiting of sunglasses is a huge problem and something for all sunglass designers to be aware of. 
  • Trends in sunglasses are constantly changing so designers need to stay up-to-date on what’s hot.

What kind of people work in sunglasses stores?

sunglasses industry demographics
  • Gender – 48.2% of store owners are female, while 47.1% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/store-owner-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average owner of a store has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age – The average owner of a store in the US is 44.2 years old.

How much does it cost to start a sunglasses line business?

Startup costs for an online sunglasses business run from about $4,000 to $8,500. Costs include design software, your first manufacturing run, packaging supplies, and building out your website. 

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Sunglasses design software$300 - $500$400
First manufacturing run for inventory$1,500 - $3,000$2,250
Packaging supplies$500 - $1,000$750
Total$3,850 - $8,600$6,225

How much can you earn from a sunglasses line business?

sunglasses line business earnings forecast

Making a pair of sunglasses costs around $10, which can then be sold for around $35, giving you a 70% profit margin.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell 5 pairs a day, bringing in nearly $65,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $45,000 in profit, assuming that 70% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 20 pairs a day. At this stage, you may be able to raise your prices to $60 per pair. You might want to hire workers and rent an office at this point, reducing your profit margin to 40%. With annual revenue of $438,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $175,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a sunglasses line business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Finding a reliable, affordable manufacturer  
  • Standing out in a competitive marketplace

Related Business Ideas

If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a sunglasses business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research online sunglasses business to examine their products, price points, and customer reviews, as well as what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the market is missing a customizable sunglasses line, in which the customer chooses the color and shape of their glasses. 

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as oversized cat-eye sunglasses.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your sunglasses line, style and design

Decide the range of products and services your sunglasses line will offer. Will you specialize in a particular style, like vintage or sports sunglasses? Are you planning to offer customization services?

You’ll just need to decide how many designs you want to start with and name each design. You might want to start with two to three to test the market.

Consider after-sales services like repairs or a return policy.

How much should you charge for sunglasses?

The average pair of sunglasses is $35, but if you position your brand as high-end, you could charge more. You should aim for a profit margin of at least 70% although it could be higher.

Once you know your costs, you can use our profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will be broad, but it will tend toward a younger, more fashion-conscious group. You can find them on TikTok or Instagram.

Where? Choose your business premises

The location of your business premises depends on your business model. If you’re starting an online store, focus on a user-friendly website. For a physical store, consider a location with high foot traffic like shopping malls or urban retail districts. If you’re operating on a B2B model, a standard office space might suffice for dealings with retailers and distributors.

sunglasses line business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Sunglasses Brand Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “sunglasses” or “designer sunglasses”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Sunburst Shades” over “Vintage Visions”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Sunglasses Line Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: Summarize your sunglasses business concept, highlighting your focus on fashionable, high-quality eyewear and strategies to distinguish your brand in the market.
  • Business Overview: Describe your business’s specialization in selling a variety of sunglasses, catering to different styles, trends, and consumer needs.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of sunglasses offered, from designer to budget-friendly options, including potential services like custom fittings or lens replacements.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the demand for sunglasses, identifying target demographics and current fashion trends in eyewear.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your business to existing eyewear retailers, highlighting your unique selling points such as exclusive designs, price points, or customer service.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for attracting customers, which might include online sales, social media marketing, or collaborations with fashion influencers.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and qualifications of your team, particularly in retail, fashion, and business management.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the operational aspects, including inventory management, supplier relations, and sales channels (physical store, online shop).
  • Financial Plan: Provide an overview of the financials, covering startup costs, pricing strategies, and revenue projections.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary documents like product catalogs, market research data, or partnership agreements to support your business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to sunglasses line businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your sunglasses line business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital: Venture capital investors take an ownership stake in exchange for funds, so keep in mind that you’d be sacrificing some control over your business. This is generally only available for businesses with high growth potential.
  • Angel investors: Reach out to your entire network in search of people interested in investing in early-stage startups in exchange for a stake. Established angel investors are always looking for good opportunities. 
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a sunglasses line business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept. If your brand really takes off, you might be able to attract venture capital or angel investors to take your business to the next level.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a sunglasses line business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your sunglasses line business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

types of business insurance
  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as LS Retail, Vend, or Retail Pro, to manage purchasing, inventory, and invoicing.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Develop your website

In today’s digital age, a well-designed website serves as the virtual storefront for your brand, where first impressions are crucial. You have two main options: use a website builder, which is cost-effective and user-friendly for beginners, or hire a professional web developer for a more customized approach.

An optimized e-commerce store should have high-quality product images, detailed descriptions, and a seamless checkout process. Incorporate clear call-to-actions (CTAs) like ‘Shop Now’, ‘Discover More’, or ‘Sign Up for Updates’ to guide visitors towards making a purchase or staying engaged with your brand.

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Social Media Engagement: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Post high-quality images and videos of your products, lifestyle shots, and user-generated content. Regularly engage with your audience through comments, stories, and live sessions.
  • Influencer Collaborations: Partner with influencers who align with your brand values. They can provide authenticity and reach to a broader audience. Micro-influencers can be especially effective due to their engaged follower base.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website for search engines to increase online visibility. Use relevant keywords, create quality content, and ensure a mobile-friendly site for better ranking.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list to keep your customers informed about new arrivals, exclusive deals, and behind-the-scenes content. Personalized email campaigns can boost customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
  • Content Marketing: Create engaging content such as blog posts, style guides, and how-to wear tips. This not only helps in SEO but also establishes your brand as a knowledgeable leader in the industry.
  • Local Partnerships: For physical stores, collaborate with local businesses and participate in community events. This can help in building a local customer base and brand recognition.
  • Paid Advertising: Invest in targeted ads on Google and social media platforms. Tailor your ads based on your audience demographics and interests to ensure higher conversion rates.
  • Pop-Up Shops and Events: Host or participate in pop-up shops and fashion events to create buzz and allow customers to experience your products firsthand.
  • Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and share their testimonials. Positive word-of-mouth and social proof can significantly influence new buyers.
  • Loyalty Programs: Implement a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. This can enhance customer retention and increase lifetime value.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your sunglasses line business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your sunglasses line business could be: 

  • Fresh look designer sunglasses – your best accessory
  • Affordable designer sunglasses to accessorize any outfit
  • Custom sunglasses – pick your shape, style and color

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a sunglasses business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in sunglasses for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in sunglasses. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a sunglasses line business include:

  • Packers – help with packaging and shipping sunglasses
  • General Manager – staff management, ordering, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Sunglasses Line – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

For whatever reason, people are willing to pay good money for sunglasses. If you have good style and a creative eye, your sunglasses line might emerge as the next Oliver Peoples. Even if you don’t get that big, you can still make a good living while helping people feel more stylish. 

Now that you’ve done your business homework, start designing your sunglasses and your business plan, and get ready to launch your new entrepreneurial career!

Sunglasses Line Business FAQs

How profitable can a sunglasses line be?

Profit margins for sunglasses are strong. Designer sunglasses are sold at markups of up to 1000%. When starting small, you can have a pair of sunglasses manufactured for about $10 and sell them for $35 or more.

How can I create designs for my sunglasses line?

There are many software programs that you can use to design your sunglasses. 3DS Max is a good one to start with.

How do you grow a brand of sunglasses?

Define your target market and develop a strong brand identity that resonates with your audience. Create a compelling brand story and mission that sets you apart. Invest in high-quality materials, craftsmanship, and innovative designs to build a reputation for excellence. Utilize digital marketing techniques to increase brand visibility, engage with your target audience through social media, influencer partnerships, and targeted advertising. Collaborate with retailers, attend trade shows, or participate in fashion events to expand your distribution network.

Are sunglasses good to sell online?

Yes, selling sunglasses online can be a viable option. Provide detailed product descriptions, multiple product images, and virtual try-on options to help customers make informed decisions. 

Who is the biggest sunglasses supplier?

The sunglasses industry has numerous suppliers, and identifying the biggest supplier can be challenging as it can vary based on different factors such as market segment, geographical region, and specific brand partnerships. Some notable suppliers in the industry include Luxottica Group, Safilo Group, Marcolin Group, and Marchon Eyewear.

How can I differentiate my sunglasses line from competitors in terms of design and aesthetics?

To differentiate your sunglasses line from competitors in terms of design and aesthetics, focus on creating unique and distinctive designs that stand out. Consider incorporating innovative materials, shapes, or color combinations that are not commonly found in the market. Stay updated with fashion and eyewear trends, while also considering timeless styles that have enduring appeal. 

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How to Start a Sunglasses Line