Name: Beth Arca
Business: Bright Futures Eyewear
Have you ever scoured Craigslist to buy a business that’s for sale? No, neither have we. But that’s exactly what enterprising Beth Arca did in 2016 when she decided to turn her dream of working for herself into a reality. Thanks to a well-timed “for sale” posting on the site, today Beth is the proud owner of Bright Futures Eyewear, a Bay-Area business offering vintage-inspired sunglasses. Now she’s a multitasking pro, building out her new company at the same time as she juggles both motherhood and a full-time job at startup. Whew!
Beth, what needs to happen for you to turn your “side gig” into a fulltime job?
I went to school for business management, so my end goal has always been running my own business full-time. Before that happens, I need to secure more wholesale accounts, develop my marketing strategy and expand my ecommerce site. I’m learning a lot about marketing (and more) as a customer experience manager at an ecommerce startup, but working for myself is my creative outlet. It’s a lot of hard work, but I love doing it.
You bought your business on Craigslist. Please explain!
The former owner of this company decided he wanted to sell, and he posted an ad on Craigslist. Believe it or not, I was on the site looking for a business for sale. (I found my current job on Craigslist, too!) The owner and I met four or five times, and he sold me on how many growth opportunities exist in the eyewear industry. The business was already established, but not so much that I couldn’t make it my own. That was really important to me. Now my mission is to elevate the brand and have it reflect my priorities and values.
Eyewear and apparel can be a crowded retail space. How do you approach branding?
One of the biggest challenges is selling something you wear from a computer or phone screen. With ecommerce sites on the rise and brick-and-mortar stores on the decline, big box retailers are thriving online. Small company like mine can only pay a fraction of what big brands spend on Google ads and other marketing tools. I don’t have a huge marketing budget, so I have to be more resourceful and creative.
The competitive environment forces me to think carefully about what my company stands for, too. I’ve always wanted to run a business that gives back to the community, either through donations-per-purchase or by sponsoring non-profits supporting underprivileged youth, both locally and overseas. Bright Futures Eyewear embodies positivity, inspiration and optimism. With everything going on in the world today, I hope to help shine some light through the darkness.
What is your most effective way to get new customers?
My best marketing strategy is working as a vendor at various local events. It helps so much when people can try on the product and compare styles. Fortunately, I live in the Bay Area where the weather is good most of the time. Customers wear their new shades straight from my booth, so they become walking advertisements for the brand.
What do you hope to get from joining a community of people who work for themselves?
I hope for strong criticism! It’s tough being vulnerable, but it’s the only way I’ll learn and grow as a business owner – and as a person. I love being a part of a community that recognizes it’s both challenging and awesome to work for yourself. Other entrepreneurs understand why you spend two hours working when you should be sleeping. And when you do it all over again the next day, this community gets it.
Now it’s your turn!
QB Community members, who do you turn to for trusted, honest feedback – and what do you do with it when you get it? Please share your story below!
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