The new executive team of Quantum Optics's brands Anarchy and Angel are setting their sites on becoming a top player in the action sports sunglass world. Drawing on their roots with companies including Quiksilver, DC, and Dragon, Robert O'Quinn and Scott Sørensen certainly have the backgrounds to make a run and in these tough economic times, and their value based strategy gives them another solid leg to stand on.
We caught up with Scott Sørensen to find out what other moves they're making to build on the brand's 12-year history and shore up its foundation.
Set the stage with a little background on your company.
Both Anarchy and Angel eyewear have been a part of the youth lifestyle sunglass world for more than 12 years now. Although neither of them have ever been one of the main players in this world, they have always been here – chalking up consistent sales year after year. Both of these brands were bought by the 80-year-old sunglass pioneer Foster Grant a few years ago. Foster Grant was the original Hollywood superstar sunglass company that had the largest celebrity based advertising campaign in history with its classic "Who's that behind their Foster Grants." Using such celebrities as Raquel Welch, Woody Allen, OJ Simpson, Cindy Crawford and Elvis Presley as their iconic spokespeople.
What differentiates your eyewear brands from others on the market?
The key feature that separates us from our competition is our value. We design and build quality eyewear just like the rest of the brands out there but we charge about half of what they do at retail. Being part of one of the largest eyewear manufacturer's has its benefits. Not only does it have a great operational support system, it also has a design and sourcing team second to none, and the buying power of tens of millions of frames a year. This gives us great benefits that we can pass on to the consumer. Great product for a great price.
Why the change in management?
The brands were struggling with finding their place in the market and the plan was to bring in a credible relevant management team to take the brands to the next level. Robert O'Quinn worked for brands like Quiksilver and most recently DC Shoes and I was one of the original pioneers of Dragon Optical. Robert brought in a great action sports retail understanding and relationships in the sales community and I brought years of youth lifestyle eyewear development and branding experience. Together, along with a great team at the head office, our goal is to build the brands, get them back into key retail and back on the path for growth. For the first time in a long time the brands have clear direction and a path to get where we want to be.
You talk about “action sports fundamentals.” Explain that.
We bring to the table a basic understanding of this market; retail, relationships, development, associations, direction, product – all of this is second nature to people who live and work in this industry. Most of us completely know how important these fundamentals are, but it is a hard concept to grasp if you are not deeply involved with this market. We are building an understanding of this world and the business practices that are common to it. Our parent company is truly dedicated to building the brands the right way to earn the growth potential we have.
Where are your glasses primarily sold? Are you seeing growth in distribution?
Both brands are primarily distributed in action sports and street lifestyle retail nationwide. We are seeing serious retail growth at the moment. Over the past 10 months we have added a handful of core national chain accounts, numerous core retailers and a ton of new lifestyle accounts. In a time of downturn for many, we are experiencing exponential growth because of our strong product mix, dedicated athletes and affordable product.
How have sales been over the last year? This seems like a good time to be making more economical shades.
Sales have been consistent and steady. Don't get me wrong; I want the economy to bounce back as much as anyone. But, the current economic conditions have provided a great opportunity for our brands to expand and really show off what we have and who we are. We are seeing a trend toward value added products at retail because of current economic conditions that won't go away quickly. And, most importantly, the consumer is more cost savvy and is no longer willing to pay higher prices for virtually the same product.
What would you say are the main differences between your sunglasses and ones retailing for $100-200?
The main difference is the price at retail. Our products are made of the finest materials available and are often made in the same factories as most of our competition at the higher price points. Our products have the same plastics, hinges and components as all the rest. We just have great buying power and pass that benefit on to the consumer.
What's your long-term strategy?
Our long-term strategy is to build the brands and get them into a top 3-position in the youth lifestyle category worldwide. We are doing this by really reaching beyond the basics and getting into the lifestyles of what our demographic is involved in. In a few markets in the US we are already there and we are building our international business the same way. Build great product, build great associations and sell it at a reasonable price is our mission.
How would you describe each of your brands to someone that doesn't know them?
Anarchy is our men's youth lifestyle brand designed to compliment whatever lifestyle you enjoy. From Skateboarding to Surfing to Rally Car to music and art, Anarchy is about the consumer and what they want to be. With fashion designs and function designs, Anarchy offers something for every individual that wants to express himself.
Angel is really about celebrating female fashion. Girls have so many styles that Angel is designed to be an accessory partner for who ever they want to be. From fun frames to high fashion styles, the Angel girl can change her look by dressing it up or down with a simple eyewear change.
I understand you guys are involved with several charities. Tell us more about who you are supporting and why.
Yes we are. For Angel we have our Pink Hope program that raises money for Breast Cancer awareness and education. We have partnered with the Keep-A-Beast Foundation and $5 of every frame sold goes to them to support their cause. We have also partnered up with the National Kidney Foundation with Anarchy and have a similar program with them. Anarchy has had a long relationship with the NKF through our Florida rep Greg Taylor and has supported their fundraising and annual surf event in Florida for years. This is a great way for us to help out and give back.