It was a cold miserable rainy day in June 2003. Bang smack in the middle of winter and no end of the crap weather likely to happen anytime soon, let alone summer coming…
I was sitting in the cold draughty warehouse with a good old school A4 refill pad (my favourite brainstorming tool) in front of me trying to figure out what other products we could sell.
I had a few things on my list, no one of them I was all that chuffed about, but at least I had a few things I could do further research on.
My problem was that I was in a business that sold sunglasses. Wholesaled them to be exact, and as you can imagine there isn’t much for a sunglass wholesale salesman to do in the middle of winter!
So I had a lot of spare time on my hands with not much to do – and next summer wasn’t going to happen anytime soon by the looks of it… so why not sit down and try to come up with some other product that we could sell at the same time that wasn’t so seasonal?
And simply out of the nowhere I thought about contact lenses.
How? I dunno. The idea literally came out of the blue.
Maybe it was because I wear them myself in fact I’ve done so since I was 16 who knows. All I do know though is that the instant the idea came to me I knew I had hit on a winner. All the other ‘wintery’ products I had come up with (to try and keep us busy in the sunglass off-season) faded into the swirling misty rain outside.
To take it back a step even further, I was working for my Dad in the sunglass business.
He was away at the time - maybe another reason why I was parked up doing nothing but brainstorming!
What I was looking for was some other product that I could wholesale. You know, import into NZ and resell to our customer base of pharmacies, sport shops – anywhere where we already wholesaled our sunglass ranges to.
Contact lenses? OK they probably didn’t get sold in these sorts of shops but hey if we had to get out there and market them to optometrists or whatever I was keen. And let’s face it. How can such tiny slivers of plasticky stuff cost so much without there being a heck of a lot of margin in there anyway?
I shot home and pulled out my own box of lenses. Surevue by Johnson & Johnson. Yep I’d certainly heard of Johnson & Johnson. We had two kids so plenty of baby powder in my life.
We dug out the last amount we had paid for them: $68 smackeroons for just 6 lenses! What a rort! We were in on a good thing no doubt whatsoever! I could envision the whole thing… find a contact lens manufacturer out there somewhere (probably China), get the agency for their range of lenses for NZ… bring them in for a pittance… start door knocking on every optometrist in the country… sit back and watch 1000’s of little boxes of lenses ship out every day and the bank account skyrocket… yep, it was all going to come together nicely.
Well the market research didn’t exactly confirm my original plans and it started to look like it wasn’t going to be a go-er after all.
Optometrists weren’t the slightest bit interested in considering some new random brand of lenses.
I got the shock of my life when I realised just how many different prescription combinations there were which meant stocking a decent range was going to be tricky - and very expensive even before we had sold our first box.
They had a stupid thing called an expiry date on them (whatever, this isn’t food….?) which made the whole stock situation even worse because what didn’t get sold after five years would have to get dumped.
And what’s more, the few contact lens manufacturers we did manage to find certainly didn’t do a lot to give us any sort of confidence in their products – or them too for that matter!
So good idea turned bad seemed to be the inevitable outcome. (Don’t get too worried, it’s the story of my life).
But there was a glimmer of hope!
During the market & product research I came across a couple of companies in America that were selling contact lenses online. What? How can that happen?
Don’t forget we’re talking about 2003 when we were still wiping our brows from having dodged the Y2K crisis so buying stuff online (apart from that amazing website called Trademe which was just 4 years old) was still pretty cutting edge.
Well the pathway from this point to when we actually were standing in the marketplace saying “contact lenses for sale” was still a long one.
We finally found a major international company that was willing to supply us. (Eventually became a competitor to us but that’s life 😊)
We got our first website live (we actually sold them via mail-order for a while even before our first website!)
And somehow we managed to figure out the millions of other things that needed to be figured out during the course of starting up an entirely new business model.
Two years later in June 2005 I bought the business off my father and we renamed it Ezyvision (previously Eclipse Eye Products).
As time has passed we haven’t been exactly lonely as more and more businesses have started up doing the same thing.
But we still try to stick to our original core values – having the unbeatablest, hands down fastest delivery possible of contact lenses anywhere in NZ, having the coolest most helpful and friendly personal service where nothing is a problem, and of course the best possible prices of contact lenses in NZ.
We’re truly grateful for the many thousands of awesome people out there that have chosen to trust us with their contact lens supply. We never could have taken this journey without you and we honestly don’t ever take it lightly how much it has helped us.
My personal promise is that not one of you will ever regret using Ezyvision for your contact lens supply. No more than that, its my promise that you will be absolutely stoked with your decision, because that’s what we strive to do for every single customer every single day.