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There aren’t too many brands that just ooze cool like Filtrate Eyewear. In this month’s installation of Hubba’s Featured Brand, I had the absolute pleasure of picking the brain of Filtrate’s co-founder, Wade Sutton. I chatted to Wade about his growth strategy and how he’s growing a local brand and taking it to an international level.
Introducing Filtrate Eyewear
Filtrate Eyewear’s brand mantra is: change your perception. They are all about the pursuit of the individual artistic lifestyle which is portrayed across all of their digital and offline channels using beautiful imagery, various artistic ambassadors, and consistent brand language. The brand is inspired by the creative noise that fills the air around us and they want to break free from established order. We can’t blame them. Nothing inspires us more than a brand who wants to go against the grain.
Wade and his co-founder Andy launched Filtrate Eyewear in Australia in 2003. He wanted to build out a brand that offered more quality and style for a lower price point mainly because he found it hard to justify paying so much for sunglasses. Wade had an extensive background in design so he ventured to China to visit some factories and ended up finding a few different manufacturers after a lot of trial and error.
Filtrate launched in US five years ago and now they have 15 sales reps covering Australia, US, Japan, South Africa, Switzerland, UK, Tahiti, New Zealand, Indonesia. Wade is in the UK as we speak setting up their European operations, so needless to say, things are going quite well.
The demand for affordable, quality eyewear
Filtrate wants to make premium quality accessible at an affordable price point. As Filtrate says, ‘Necessity is the mother of all invention and quality eyewear is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford adequate protection..until now.’
Wade mentioned that one of the hardest things about eyewear is being able to keep the product at a superior quality for what you’re paying for.
Filtrate design their own products but they don’t spend a great deal of their budget on marketing because that means they would then have to increase their product price. In order to subsidize this they rely heavily on social media to promote their brand (and they’re doing a killer job).
Being bold and taking risks
It goes without saying that you take a enormous risk when you start your own business. Wade previously worked for Rip Curl and had been in action sports for the past 20 years. Rip Curl started in eyewear. Wade presented some good ideas to them and but felt like they were swept under the rug, so he thought he’d take matters into his own hands.
He put together a presentation and put it in front of his business partner. He loved it and that was the beginning. They were shut down a lot from new retailers who said no we didn’t really sell eyewear but they were persistent in Australia. They started working with a distributor in the US and then Wade moved there to further grow the brand.
Catering to different tastes for various markets
Since Filtrate has been growing at such a rapid rate, I asked Wade how does he shift his marketing and brand message for various markets? He said, “a lot of our brand is marketed towards that coastal lifestyle, which is very similar in the US and Australia, but for the UK its much more fashion focused. So, we went ahead and shifted our website a bit to cater to both.”
Filtrate is now coming out with a few new sunglasses to cater to each audience and their tastes. He decided to add a higher quality element to their frames called acetate.
The material is cut out, carved and shaped by hand and then added to their sunglasses. Acetate is hypoallergenic, made from a renewable resource, lightweight, very strong and good for the environment. Wade came across this material a few years ago and has since released a new line called the Raw line – which is a unrefined, unfinished acetate. Its slightly hand sanded and just beautiful.
Using a collaboration to land your first major retailer
As an eyewear company, how do you land your first major retailer? You hassle the crap out of them. Wade said that their persistence more often than not pays off. He encourages brands to send your product to your desired retailers, have your reps just stay consistent and be on them constantly.
Filtrate recently did a collaboration with Twitch (a motorcross company) which helped them get in the door and grow their brand with Tilly’s. Their price point made sense with Tilly’s customer and the collaboration was a fit with their demographic. A win, win. Filtrate went from 60 stores to all 200 Tilly’s within a a few months.
Keeping your dealers and sales reps updated with product content
Since Filtrate is growing so quickly it’s important for Wade to keep all of his retailers and dealers updated on any new product innovation or product launch. He finds that mainly his online retailers will ask for product information to stay updated. Wade uses Hubba as his platform to store all of his assets and sales materials so that his reps can use it all to their advantage and have more content to give their dealers.
“If you use Hubba there’s no excuses. Everyone is armed with content and are empowered to use it.” – Wade Sutton
Wade said they Filtrate has a lot more brand content to add to Hubba because they have a large sales rep network. They use Hubba to cut down on time communicating back and forth with reps and it helps them to deliver consistent brand content to all of their dealers across the globe. If you’re a Hubba member you can login and check out Filtrate’s product profiles here!
We wanted to thank Wade and the rest of the Filtrate Eyewear team for sharing their story with us and can’t wait to watch them continue to grow and flourish!
Are you looking for an easier way to share marketing assets with your retailers and have your brand stay top of mind?