Gerard Benchetrit Interview
(Spiffy Society Eyewear)
It’s the hottest eyewear around. It’s Spiffy Society Eyewear.
Launching in late 2013, spiffy society eyewear can count celebrities like Joe Jones, Taylor Lautner, Solange Knowles, oranges the new black Jackie cruz, actresses Lake Bell, Chicago Cubs Jay Cutler, the new face of Versace Nolan Gerard Funk, Mike Vogel of under the dome, Nick Wechsler of revenge, Gabe Saporta of cobra starship, actress Gina Gershon, gold-medal Olympic medalist Natia Liukin , shameless star Emily Bengal and actor Colin Donnell as customers.
Gerard Benchetrit spoke to us about Spiffy Society Eyewear.
Q - Spiffy Society. That seems like a rather strange name for an optical company. Usually there will be mention of the word eyeglass in the company name. Why did you come up with Spiffy Society?
A - You know it’s funny you start with that we had very long debates about Spiffy Society and abbreviation that could be made of the name. We decided that we wanted to be different in the sense that all of our eyewear would be trendy, it would be following the fashion and it would be designed in such a way that our clientele is more in the group of the 18 to 35 age group. We thought with the name Spiffy Society we would speak more to that age group and that it would represent better what we wanted to do than having a name that would have eyewear or glasses or one that would have these variations into it.
Q - Is Spiffy Society your company?
A - Partly, yes. We are five partners. Those five partners are the owners of Spiffy Society. I’m one of the five.
Q - Have you always been in the optical business your whole working life?
A - No. This is my first brush with the optical business. I’ve been in quite a few things but, I’ve never been in that. I started getting involved in the eyewear business when I decided I would be one of the investors of Spiffy Society.
Q - If you go to the retail optical stores, all they sell is the rectangular frames. Is there no market for oval frames anymore?
A - There is a very good market for it. Our most popular frames are not the traditional rectangular frames, as a matter of fact. The problem the optical stores have is that they need to have a limited stock which is not what happens on the Internet where we can present a much greater variation in also we can target our clientele better. When you walk into an optical store, you walk with the six-year-old kid and a very wide range of clientele. With our website we target our clientele, but, are looking for that trendy, retro look.
Q - Who determines what frame is in style? The manufacturer?
A - Yes. The manufacturer and the distributors they are dealing with. So, depending on which line they do carry, they will have the frames that are produced by that company. Our case is very different. We designed the frames and all the frames you see on our website are labeled spiffy society. So, our frames are ours and we do not carry any product line per se.
Q - The company was launched in November 2013?
A - Correct.
Q - For $95 you get prescription lenses and frames. How can you offer such a great deal?
A - What you have to realize is that our costs whether it is us or one of those retail places where you go in, is the same, more or less. The differences are, (A) that we buy directly from the factory. So, we’ve already eliminated at least two steps on that ladder by eliminating the importer and the distributor. Then, we’ve also eliminated all the costs that are associated with having a retail outlet. So, this enables us to bring frame of let’s call it a good quality, because generally, it’s better. When you start looking into the details of frame construction, all the rivets are made, all the reinforcements are made, which materials are being used - we use the best materials that are out there. So, our frames are of the best quality that is out there. So, our lenses are exactly the same, but, we a deal directly with a huge laboratory which is located in Florida. Our lenses are mounted on the frames. Then, we send you the frame. We can do that for that price and do what we consider a decent margin.
Q - As the CEO of Spiffy Society, do you have a regular schedule?
A - The regular schedule involves looking at the sales, looking at our new direction in terms of the promotion approach to the market. Were now starting to work on our next collection. You know, CEO is just a name to say that you do a bit of everything.
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