“After qualifying as an optician and optometrist, I took over my father’s business in 1996. The first thing I did was to upgrade the shop. My father wanted to do business with every brand and had over 30 of them represented in his range. That was not what I wanted. I wanted to have a smaller number of brands, and for them to be really exclusive ones. However, I didn’t opt for the customary stylish brands, such as Gucci or Rodenstock, but instead for real designer brands.
When you make a decision like that, you also decide to serve a certain section of the population and they, too, have children who may need to have glasses. Those glasses then need to be attractive ones, not a basic frame covered by health insurance or one from the Walt Disney range. Just stylish kids’ glasses or, in other words, glasses for children that look grown up. But at that time these were nowhere to be found. Until, that is, I went to an exhibition in Paris and came across a French manufacturer. He didn’t have glasses like that either, but was interested in the tale I had to tell. He was also prepared to make a batch of glasses for me in small numbers and at an attractive price. “Just let me know what you want,” he said. So I did. I started off with one frame in three sizes and five or six colours, so thirty options in total. That was in October 1999, and in January of the following year they arrived. I then approached all of the people who had ever asked me for children’s glasses, and I also contacted the people in my customer database who were likely to have children. Hardly a month had gone by before I was making a new appointment with my French contact. I needed to place new orders for all of the glasses and had designed six new frames. He laughed at me outright, saying that I would never sell them and that I was throwing my money away. My response was that he should go ahead and make the order for the same price as the first batch - it would be fun for him and he would also make a little bit of money.
In the meantime the phone had started ringing. Other opticians had heard that I had attractive children’s glasses and wanted to know if they could buy them from me. At first I told them they couldn’t, but after taking 25 calls from opticians asking the same question, I started to reconsider. So I then ordered larger stocks and took on someone to go on the road for me, selling the glasses. That was back in August 2000 and my thinking was that I would be happy if I had 15 to 20 sales outlets by the end of the year. But I ended up with 35 sales outlets. And in 2002 it was so busy that I had to make a decision – it was either the shop or BBIG. No need to ask what I chose.”
Rob Bresser, creator, originator, and owner of BBIG
Kids think big - BBIG!