By Suzanne Sendel

 

“Competition makes us faster; collaboration makes us better.” -Fyrefly

 

Many businesses have been building their brands and those that have been most successful are those who think outside of the box and sometimes outside of the country.

It has been a crazy 18 months and although our trade shows and sales calls were put on hold, the Internet offered us all a great platform to network.

In doing so, many took the opportunity to gain exposure and connection through international coffee chats, webinars, online trade shows and live feeds. In building market share, many took a spin south of the border as well as overseas to create a flow of activity, potential and collaborations.

There were several mergers that sparked innovation in our industry.

Many of our independent ECPs have sold their practices to join forces with buying groups and, most recently, The Optical Group was scooped up by our Canada-proud success story, New Look.

There are many facets in how to build business through collaboration.

We collaborate every day. Whether it is through our supply chain, sales reps, customers, or competition, teaming up and accomplishing mutual goals takes a team.

Selecting the right influencer to help you achieve your popularity on social platforms has proven to be a great investment.

Sharing your vision with an online celeb or micro-influencer holds immense value in today’s market. Most of our sales have been through referrals, satisfied customers, patients, and now, on who is seen wearing our brands online. Creating a loyal following on your socials is a way to engage and elevate your market share and online presence.

Collaborating with influencers who emulate your vision and share your message is a great feat and being selective in who you work with is paramount in building your credibility and relatability.

Creating a bundle program in which you can team up with a partner who supports your vision is a great incentive for growth. In offering your services combined, you show great entrepreneurial spirit and vision. Inspiring unity through teaming up shows great heart and builds trust.

Attending online trade shows has proven to be invaluable.

“My Vision Show” had begun at the onset of the pandemic and brought many Canadians to the USA in uniting brands and connections. In attending and participating, I met America’s A team of visionary ECPs.

Learning more about their business and how they were open to collaboration. Crossing borders, sharing ideas and connecting. At home, we had a stellar team of online presence in Canadian education with the AOE and Trudi Charest to keep us up-to-date on how to continue to create and flourish during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, South of the border, many of us engaged and were entertained with “Zoom Coffee Chats,” hosted by Tarrence Lakran, aka. The Optical Poet.

In participating, I connected with many iconic leaders from across the nation and sea. How cool it was to have a front-row-centre seat to the realm of possibility.

Times have changed and there is so much to celebrate.

For one, we are all here! Our business is back on track, growth is imminent and those who are open to innovative ideas and ways of thinking in terms of how to reach a broader market can do so by taking that first step in being inventive. Whether it is crossing the borders to collaborate with another company or celebrity, a collection or invention, when you show that you are open to create together, you build momentum.

I have stopped people in elevators (rapper aka. everyonesaweirdo) to ask them to join in a photoshoot. I have suggested to another optical accessory designer that we team up between the UK and Canada and sell ourselves in the accessory market as “Two lilies across the Pond.” We both are vying for the same peg space in your shop, but on a more global appeal, working together will help us build together. Competition is a great segway to joint success.

I come from a design background, so it is only natural for me to reach out to the fashion leaders in Canada and ask them to join us in our support of exemplifying eyewear fashion. We have worked with entertainment reporters, rappers, fashion editors and iconic designers. We have styled celebrities, VIPs and VPs, all in getting our frames on the right faces. From our connections, new collaborations are being forged. The art of association leads to great opportunities.

One of the most significant collaborations is between you and your supplier. You chose their products because they inspire you. In building your practice, you can count on their full support, stack the deck with building your social media platforms and create content together. Your suppliers can offer you images, videos, feeds that can support your dispensary as a target destination. 

Your reps and distributors spend 24/7 in supporting your success and can offer you the tools to best build your business.

2022 is around the corner, there is so much to look forward to. Our trade shows will be in full swing, which will give us the opportunity to expand our reach.

In the meantime, engaging collabs are all the rage and we have such a creative pool to draw from!