The global eyewear market was valued at around $140 billion in 2020 and is forecast to ballon to $197 billion by 2027. A growing number of Black entrepreneurs have entered the arena.
Two are friends Tracy Vontélle Green and Nancey Harris. They launched Vontélle eyewear brand in October 2020.
So far, 2022 has been full of business developments for the pair.
Vontélle recently announced a three-year licensing partnership with ViacomCBS Consumer Products to create a children’s eyewear line centered around Nickelodeon’s beloved characters. “We will soon launch with SpongeBob, Rugrats and BabyShark eyewear. We are the first African-American women-owned eyewear company to have such a deal,” Harris says to Finurah.
Their niche is to bring fashionable eyewear to the masses and to appeal to a Afrocentric aesthetic.
“Vontélle was founded to satisfy the demand for better-fitting vibrant, luxury eyewear designed and handcrafted to pay homage to the African, Caribbean and Latin diaspora,” says Green.
According to one estimate the average cost of eyeglasses, frames only, without insurance is $242, according to statistics from vision care health insurance company VSP. But Vontélle offers a wide range of frames from $99 to $350.
“We have several top sellers. However, we have four that are in popular demand. Rwanda Wayfarers, which is a rich and beautiful textile print that truly enhances any melanin tone, and the versatile rectangular silhouette adds a sophisticated, professional look. This was also our first pair of glasses we designed,” says Harris.
Other popular designs include the unisex Acacia Aviators that have a tortoise pattern; Rectangular Rands, which are also unisex and offered in many colors; the Red Kente, decorated with an African Kente cloth print design.”
Launching right before the start of the pandemic proved to be challenging as COVID-19 restrictions got tighter.
“Although the pandemic has wreaked havoc on everything and initially retail purchases across the nation were down due to the loss of jobs, our business realized two key proponents that assisted us in adapting. We created masks to match our eyewear in the same eye-catching and awe-inspiring patterns. We created the term #fullfacefashion,” explained Harris.
The partners also found that with the increase in video meetings as people worked from home, there was an increase in eyewear.
“Due to virtual meetings, eyewear has become a way to show one’s personality as your face is all that you see. Thus, there was an increase in eyewear sales,” notes Green.
According to the pair, they see eyewear as a stable business and one they are making a solid foothold in. “Eyewear is meant to reflect your personality and compliment your wardrobe. Vontélle has a vast selection, and you can pick your own adventure from an array of vibrant, pattern enriched designs, says Harris. “Whether looking for a subtle slay or a powerful pop, our glasses are the solution. Our eyewear brightens up any mood and wardrobe.”