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As orders roll in, entrepreneurs outsource

Burl Rolett August 8, 2013 7
Nectar sunglasses at West Coast Kix. (Photo by Burl Rolett)

Nectar sunglasses on display at West Coast Kix in Carytown. (Photo by Burl Rolett)

Buried in orders for its handmade sunglasses and with its sights set on new products, a local startup has moved its manufacturing abroad.

Nectar Sunglasses, founded in Richmond in 2012, began outsourcing its production and shipping operations about two weeks ago. The move will allow co-owners Sean Holmes and Dylan Roukous to get out of their office at 2401 W. Main St. and focus on marketing and brand expansion for their 18-month-old company.

“When you get an order for 500 sunglasses, it takes you a good while to make that by hand,” Holmes said. “We’ve been so bogged down by just having to do orders all the time. [Now] we can actually take a step back and focus on [other] needs.”

The glasses are now produced overseas, and orders are shipped out of a fulfillment center near the Richmond International Airport. Those chores used to be performed out of the company’s office and workshop in the Fan.

Holmes would not say where the glasses are being produced, but he said the company chose to move its manufacturing overseas to take advantage of production infrastructure that was already in place, rather training new employees to put the sunglasses together stateside.

The restructuring of its logistics comes amid the best sales stretch in company history, Holmes said.

“June was our best month, now July is our best month. We’re hoping August will be our best month ever,” Holmes said.

Since the company’s founding, Holmes says they have shipped sunglasses to all 50 states and 24 countries. He would not share specific sales figures.

About 60 percent of Nectar’s orders come from its website, where it offers a make-your-own-shades service that lets customers choose their frames, arms and lenses.

The other 40 percent of the company’s business comes from placement in retail locations. The sunglasses are carried in several locations across Richmond, including West Coast Kix, Segway of Richmond and Venue Skateboards, as well as about 40 locations outside Virginia.

Nectar’s sunglasses range from $13 to $25 on the company’s online store.

Now Nectar is ramping up its efforts to put the company brand in front of its target audience. In coming months, the company expects to sponsor events across Richmond, including the RVA Wake n’ Sun Fest. And it is set to announce an endorsement deal with a professional surfer in September, Holmes said.

The company is also working on an apparel line. Holmes plans on putting out T-shirts and tank tops within the next year. There is no official release date set.

“That’s a big push,” he said. “Once we get everything kind of solid with the fulfillment center and everything’s working well, that’s when we’re going to switch gears.”

Nectar founder Sean Holmes puts together a pair of custom sunglasses. (Photo by Lena Price)

Nectar co-founder Sean Holmes puts together a pair of sunglasses in 2012. (Photo by Lena Price)

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7 Comments »

  1. Jared Davis August 8, 2013 at 7:53 am - Reply

    I love everything about this company, and hope they knock it out of the park. I’ve probably convinced 10 people in the past couple weeks to buy a pair of these just by word of mouth. People ask me about mine all the time. You can’t beat them for the price. They also seem to be doing a great job getting the word out locally marketing through other businesses and word of mouth.

    I would love to see them polarize all their lenses in time, and maybe even do another style or two of glasses. Either way, I think this is a great business idea and will take both the owners very far.

  2. Sue Hicks August 8, 2013 at 10:11 am - Reply

    There goes “Made in the USA” :-(

  3. Kevin B Anderson August 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    There goes “Made in the USA” are you kidding me Sue?

    I hope in 30 years there are zero manufacturing jobs in the US. Why? Because those jobs are terrible. We’re an information economy now. If your skills can’t keep up, move to Brazil and build trucks to your heart’s content.

    • stan stanfield August 8, 2013 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Let me guess. You were educated at a leftist university and have never employed over 10 people in your life?

  4. Ryan August 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Hats off to you guys!. Hard working entrepreneurs making people happy!! Only goes up from here and looking forward to all the success Nectar brings you

  5. Chris Miller August 10, 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I had to chime in on the USA production comments before they got out of control with these thoughts before things got out of hand. 1) Why make a local business story about business choices made by people who are taking their own destiny in their own hands and actually doing something to improve their lives and those employees around them? Small business is what makes this country great and responsible for 80% of employment opportunities in the USA. We should praise them for entering and succeeding at a competitive bigCO driven market like sunglasses. 2) Those that think overseas sourcing doesn’t benefit the US seem short sited and here are two real world examples: Oakley and Apple – they both employee thousands of jobs in the US, generate revenue, and spend millions with other local businesses supporting media sales reps, local retailer profits, and such. Both have done it with different production strategies. Like http://www.scottevest.com – one of the top 500 Inc retailers born out of sweat tears, and hard work – these companies were born by DOING, not complaining about their situation or the state of economy or sourcing products. Instead they remained positive, built something out of nothing and quit blaming others. Perhaps those of you who think owners are hurting anyone by choosing to think globally should go back to waiting for handouts and their ideology of the past – the USA is not a post war country anymore that employees factory workers successfully to build a great nation. Instead it’s a incubator for innovative thinkers, hard workers, and go-getter’s that take their own destiny in their hands – struggle and succeed. ThinkShopBuyLocal is a great marketing and movement that educates and promotes buying local – but I’d bet a million dollars those that complain about companies that outsource out of this country shop at Walmart, drive cars that were not 100% produced here, and don’t exclusively buy local produce to eat. So I ask with a since of pride and thought on this subject simply this: Why bash someone making it in a tough complex marketplace one business decision driven by supply/demand and cost – instead of praising them for making something out of their situation? In reality I love USA made products and applaud those companies that decide to stick to US sources, but at the same time if Apple had done this – the world would not be the company it is employing 1,000′s and contributing to the US in ways we’ll never know – creatively and economically changing lives. So get out their and make business happen no matter how you do it to survive! In the end it is these people that make a real difference. Not the people sitting on the side-lines complaining. OK, back to work and off my soapbox – I have work to do myself.

  6. Edmund Fitzgerald August 27, 2013 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Lots of people needing jobs in RVA, shame…

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