Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Barry Franzblau, Owner of Couture Optique, located in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Couture Optique is a luxury eyewear boutique offering independent collections of the world's most exclusive lines. These collections are handmade in countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Belgium, and Spain. Our customers tend to be affluent in our local community, but we also have customers that come from other states as well as international clients because of our offering and detail to bespoke service.
Tell us about yourself
I first got started in the optical business in my early 20s through my father, who was an optometrist. During my last couple of years in high school, I would finish each day after school at his office, working in the lab until it was time to go home. When I was getting close to graduating, the only thing that I knew was optical, and although I was very proud of my father's accomplishments as a specialized Optometrist, I knew I was more drawn to eyewear.
What motivates me today is seeing new clients come in from a referral of a friend because they had never seen the kind of eyewear we put on our customer's faces. Additionally, the advancement in the type of specialty prescription lenses we use always seems to get a wow factor from our customers when they put on their new glasses.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
At the age of 25, I opened my first luxury Optical boutique on the world-famous Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, catering to some of America's wealthiest families, celebrities, and international clients. Three years later, I developed "Celebrity Eyeworks," a company in Los Angeles that provided actors with the eyewear they used to portray their characters in feature films and TV shows, it was definitely one of the highlights of my career. Over a 15-year period, I worked with top A-List actors in over 600 projects. Then came the biggest retail endeavor I was fortunate enough to have.
Capitalizing on my success with "Celebrity Eyeworks," I was invited by "The Walt Disney Company" to become one of only nine independent retailers for the first time in Disney's history to land on their property for a new entertainment complex called "Downtown Disney's West Side," after many successful years there I was approached by Oakley to acquire my store at Disney and by another company to acquire my Palm Beach store and sold them both. Today I am still the proud owner of Couture Optique located at Downtown Palm Beach Gardens for the past 18 years. Recently I did a brand new store design that is very modern and chic, when customers walk in the door, they know the experience will be special.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
For me being in brick-and-mortar retail, it's trying to navigate a seasonal business where inventory constantly changes as well as lag time since all our product comes from out of the country. Additionally, being in a shopping center with a large landlord, lease negotiations and operational issues are always challenging.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make sure you have a real passion for the business you want to enter.
- Do your homework, and study other businesses in the same arena, ask a lot of questions from peers who have already done it.
- Don't be afraid to fail, and if by chance you do, dust yourself off and be ready to go again.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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