Knockaround, LLC, a sunglasses company based in Old Town and with 30 employees, will reach a significant milestone this year – thanks to COVID-19.
At the beginning of the year, Adam Moyer, founder and CEO, projected Knockaround’s revenue would increase by 30% in 2020, just as it had done the previous year. But when the pandemic first hit mid-March, he said sales dropped quickly and significantly. For about two weeks, the future of the company appeared uncertain.
By the beginning of April, sales – particularly in e-commerce – were back up by about 90%, said Moyer (wholesale accounts for 10%). Now, Knockaround is expected to grow its revenue by 40%, from $8.7 million in 2019 to $12.5 million in 2020, and finally cross the $10 million revenue mark.
Moyer, who founded the company in 2005, attests the growth to a handful of elements.
“One big one being our price point,” he said. “People are not sure of the economy. They are conserving money more than they were before. They are less likely to spend $150 on a pair of sunglasses and more likely to spend $30 on them, which is our price point. Also, people are spending more time outside. There is less to do indoors, so, people end up playing more in the park, outside, and they need a pair of sunglasses. And then, of course, we sell most of our glasses on the site, as we sell predominately online, so people don’t have to go to the store to get the product.”
All of those reasons have helped the company turn things around pretty quickly after the initial COVID hit, said Moyer. Now, the company is on track to have its best year-to-date, he said.
Tony Martinez, director of marketing, said, aside from the quality and value of the Knockaround product, the company’s success is also due to the amount of options it offers.
“Beyond functionality, the cool part of our company is the design, the creativity and colors,” he said. “We offer tons of options, not just off the shelf, but through our custom shop. Anyone can pop up there and design their own pair of glasses that are unique to them, with polarized lenses, for $35, which is a fraction of the price you would spend on other brands.”
Moyer said the custom shop portion of the website is one of the fastest growing segments of the company. He said it is equivalent to that of Nike ID, for example, where customers could go and customize their own pair of sneakers. On the Knockaround custom shop, visitors can design their sunglasses that are then built by hand in the Knockaround warehouse in Barrio Logan. Once the order is received, he said the glasses, which are sourced from China, are built and shipped out within two or three business days.
Going into 2020, the initial plan for Knockaround was to continue to sell through e-commerce (via its site and on Amazon) while simultaneously grow its wholesale segment, meaning selling into brick and mortar stores. But, because of COVID, that retail part has fallen off somewhat, he said, from 20% to 10% in sales. Moyer said he hopes to put more focus on this sector in the coming year, adding that some of the company’s current partners include smaller mom and pop shops as well as 100 West Marine boating shops around the country and 50 Kohl’s stores.
Knockaround also continues to do partnerships with other companies and organizations, including the San Diego Zoo and Shark Week, the latter which is on its sixth or seventh year of collaboration. The way it works is the company seeks out other corporations it would like to partner with and designs a limited-edition product. That product is then sold on Knockaround’s website as well as by the contracted company.
He said the benefit for Knockaround is that it allows the brand to be seen by an audience that might not otherwise know of it. This summer, the company sold over 10,000 pairs of Shark Week sunglasses, Moyer said, more than ever before.
In addition to the collaborations, Knockaround also markets via digital advertising, said Moyer, like paid Google search and Facebook and Instagram ads.
Moyer, who attended art school at UC San Diego, founded Knockaround with $500 from his own savings after losing an expensive pair of Ray Ban sunglasses. In 2009, he received a small, undisclosed investment amount from Imprint Venture Lab, based in Long Beach. It was exactly what he needed to kick business into high gear, he said.
In 2021, Moyer said Knockaround will continue to be in full growth mode. He said he will continue to focus on growing its wholesale sector as well as landing more joint ventures.