Not everyone is fortunate enough to maintain 20/20 vision for a lifetime. In fact, research shows that most people require vision correction at some point in life. According to the Vision Council of America, about 75% of American adults wear eyeglasses for vision correction, with most relying solely on prescription glasses for vision correction. Only 11% of these people use contact lenses, that too, often along with eyeglasses.
No matter which of these categories one fits in, everyone who wears prescription glasses would agree that it gets really boring to wear the same frames day in and day out. And you can only have so many pairs of glasses. Frameri promised to resolve this problem!
What is Frameri?
Frameri Eyewear was a Cincinnati-based online retailer that offered flexibility to those who wear glasses with interchangeable frames and lenses. The first company to be based on the ‘component-based’ design, Frameri offered a solution to that frustrating feeling of being stuck with just one frame and allowed people to kind-of design their own glasses by getting lenses and frames separately. Sounds cool, right?
With Frameri Eyewear, you could just snap out the lenses from one frame and fit them into another. Just like you do as a temporary fix when one lens of your only pair of glasses suddenly pops out. The only difference is that with Frameri, you do it with your own free will to suit your look. You could even swap the regular lenses with tinted ones (prescription or non-prescription) to turn your eyesight glasses into sunglasses in an instant.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Frameri made eyeglasses an accessory in the true sense of the word.
Owned by Konard Billetz and Kevin Habich, the startup company featured on Season 6 of Shark Tank in 2015 for more investment to fund their inventory as well as business advice and guidance to develop their brand. The partners asked for a $150,000 investment for a 4% share in the company.
Unfortunately, the Sharks weren’t interested in the offer, despite somewhat liking the idea and spectacles. Kevin O’ Leary was the only one to agree to offer them the requested amount, but he had certain conditions. He demanded to keep the company’s shares after making a recovery of $450K on his $150,000 investment and to be given $25 per customer in terms of royalty after he recovers the said amount.
Billetz and Habich refused to accept the conditions and went away from Shark Tank without a deal.
Even though they didn’t strike a deal on Shark Tank, Billetz and Habich seemed to do well in business for a couple of years. They were even able to secure state funding and opened a retail store in Over-the-Rhine. However, it eventually turned out that the company wasn’t doing as well as it may have appeared. In May 2017, Konard Billetz, the person who originally came up with the business idea, left the company. He announced his departure on social media on May 21, 2017.
After Konard’s departure, the Director of Business Development, Sam Pellerito, took over as the company’s CEO. But he couldn’t save it, and Frameri Eyewear was shut down in January 2018.
Our Review of Frameri
Frameri Eyewear was an interesting concept and claimed to offer high-quality frames and lenses that were anti-UV and had Electro-Magnetic Interference and Scratch-Resistant coatings. However, it didn’t live up to its claim of making eyewear affordable. Each frame and pair of lenses cost $100. So while it did offer flexibility to switch up your frames and lenses, it wasn’t affordable for everyone. This could possibly be a major reason why the company couldn’t last long, despite being backed by years of research, innovative concept, and high product quality.
Pros of Frameri
- Flexibility in eyewear
- You could switch frames without buying new lenses
- The same frame(s) could be used as prescription glasses and sunglasses
- Innovative concept
Cons of Frameri
Who is Frameri For?
Frameri is no longer in business. It was, however, targeted at the millions of people who wear prescription glasses.
Are There Any Alternatives?
Though not with exactly the same features as Frameri Eyewear, there are interchangeable glasses available on the market. Tom Ford offers glasses with magnetic clips, allowing you to change your prescription glasses into sunglasses whenever you want. Carrerra has glasses with interchangeable temples and the front.
None of the Frameri alternatives has lenses that can be popped in and out of the frames.
Our Final Thoughts
The concept of Frameri Eyewear was innovative; there are no two views about it. But it didn’t do well in the industry. While we do not know the specific reasons for the company’s closure, the high price of frames and lenses, insufficient or inefficient marketing, poor brand building, and lack of knowledge among customers (brand awareness) all seemed to be the reasons that led to Frameri’s failure.
The case study of Frameri Eyewear highlights that while an idea is essential, you need a lot more to grow a successful business. And while Frameri excelled in terms of novelty of the idea, it, unfortunately, lacked in other areas, which eventually led to its failure.