Revant Optics was founded in 2009 by Jason Bolt out of a desire to bring people affordable and high quality lenses for their expensive sunglasses. We partnered with Revant in February in an effort to help their continued growth.
Since GRAYBOX partners with companies for the long term, we felt it would be beneficial to our partners to give everyone an introduction to who they are, how they started, and where they are headed. This installation of the welcome blog will highlight Revant Optics, one of our newer partners, as well as their CEO Jason Bolt.
I recently sat down with Jason and had the opportunity to become better acquainted with his story and the story of Revant Optics.
GRAYBOX is excited to be working with a company like Revant Optics, whose values align so closely with our own.
The idea to make and sell custom lenses for sunglasses came to Jason during his college years. As a poor college student, he realized he could not afford to pay upwards of $200 every time his lenses broke. Because of the costliness of buying directly from the manufacturer, the only thing that Jason spent more money on during his college days was his mountain bike. He realized at that moment - there has to be a better way.
Several trips to lens manufacturers confirmed his suspicion that lenses could indeed be made much more affordably without sacrificing quality as well as custom fit to specific frames. Consequently he brought home 180 lenses and posted them on eBay on a Friday afternoon. He thought that it would take a while for the lenses to sell out so he went on a road trip for the weekend. By the time he arrived at his destination Friday night, nearly every lens had sold and he was forced to ask his parents and a friend to help him fulfill the slew of unexpected orders.
From there, things never slowed down for Jason. After a couple of months, working out of his apartment was no longer and he was forced to move four times during that first year of operation. He hired his first employee - a packager - when he was able to move into a house with a garage. He launched a second company selling sunglasses out of his trunk eight months after starting his lens business, all while simultaneously attending college full-time.
Jason attended class for 6-8 hours a day, arrived home from class to study, then spent the next 6 hours fulfilling orders before getting on the phone with the lens manufacturers to discuss his custom lens needs.
A major bump in the road
About a year and a half after starting Revant Optics, Jason was sitting in his Organic Chemistry class, day dreaming about the future of his now fairly successful company when he got an email from eBay. 399 of his 400 listings had been removed with no explanation. He walked out of class and called eBay, they gave him no helpful information. He emailed them, they were still unhelpful. He started combing through his listings in an effort to discover what had caused his ban. Finally, after scouring the one listing that had stayed up, he discovered that the only difference was the word —for—in the title. He changed all of his postings and got Revant back on track.
Despite this and other setbacks, he has remained a talisman for his company. Jason has built Revant with a core group of employees that have been at the core of some major shifts and changes. Like GRAYBOX, Revant is growing fast. Also like GRAYBOX, Revant has invested heavily in their employees. The folks that started off in packaging or shipping for Revant are now among national leaders in their industry. Of the 19 employees, 7 of them moved from Eugene to Portland at the end of 2013 to remain with the company. If that doesn't speak to the reciprocal commitment, then nothing does.
Investing in people
People are a hugely important asset to Jason and Revant, whether that is employees or customers. While he loves to empower his employees to realize their potential, he knows that Revant wouldn't exist without their core customer. In fact, the core customer is what has helped Jason focus Revant for the next five to ten years.
When they moved to Portland, people would stop in at their office every so often and Jason would chat with them. Pretty soon, he noticed that he was having the same or similar conversations over and over again. He refers to their core customer as —our guy.— Their guy kept coming into the office over and over again and Jason soon realized that an assumption he had made about their customer base was wrong. It took some effort from Jason and his team to shift their focus and start rowing together in a different direction.
Now that Revant is aligned and understands their core customer, they are adding more value than ever to their community. They are proud sponsors of Warfighter Made and Racing 4 Vets, two charities working to help veterans. They are working on bringing the Revant digital experience into the physical world by exploring ways to activate at relevant events and pop-up retail. They are stepping out of their comfort zone as a unified group taking their quality, affordability and customer care into the real world. GRAYBOX is looking forward to helping Revant Optics as the brand continues to grow into a name recognized the world over.