An 8:30 p.m. ET start-time provides no need for fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide or Oklahoma Sooners to be wearing sunglasses. Same can be said about the two teams taking part in a match-up to be played indoor at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. However, fans of the winning team will have reason to be partying on Bourbon Street all night and well into the morning, when the sun will rise, and glasses will be necessary. Luckily for that team’s fan-base, a small company based in Oregon has a solution — college branded sunglasses.
Don't Miss: The Best HDR TVs
Three-year old Society 43 is an official licensee of both Alabama and Oklahoma when it comes to the creation of sunglasses and a select grouping of other accessories. It started in 2010 when the company’s founder determined that there were not any collegiate licensed sunglasses on the market that he would want to wear as a fan. ”At the time I was a student at University of Oregon,” said Jason Bolt, Founder and CEO of Society 43 to FORBES. ”Students would wear everything in Oregon colors, but be wearing black glasses or squinting to see the team.” Bolt found a few manufacturers online, delivered some designs (in Oregon’s distinguished green and yellow colors) and started handing the finalized sunglasses around campus in an effort to see what type of reaction he would receive.
Back in 2010, Bolt had no licenses — not even with the University of Oregon. That changed in 2011, when he decided that the best step his business could take would be to spend the time and money to start engaging in licensing negotiations with colleges. In 2011, Society 43 applied for and received thirteen licenses, some from the Collegiate Licensing Company and separately through universities such as Oregon, which handles all licensing in-house. Bolt and his team signed agreements with another forty-eight universities in 2012. As of the close of 2013, Society 43 had eighty colleges under contract and a deal with the NBA to be able to manufacture sunglasses bearing the marks for all teams.
Society 43 has come a long way in its three years of existence. It started as a grassroots project where Bolt put in $3,000 in start-up capital to sell green-and-yellow sunglasses. On average, the company has experienced roughly 200% year-to-year sales growth since 2010. In 2013, Society 43 sold in excess of 100,000 pairs of sunglasses; in 2014, it is aiming to increase that number to 160,000.
“It’s been all self-funded and we’ve been profitable as of third quarter 2012,” explained Bolt. ”We run on a very lean model. We’ve done some custom work for Facebook and EBay and made custom sunglasses for the entire Portland Trail Blazers team with their names and numbers to start the season.”
Alabama and Oklahoma boast two fervent fan bases that love to express their fandom through the donning of merchandise bearing their schools’ colors and logos. Society 43 seems like the perfect type of accessory for such a fan.
Darren Heitner is a Partner at Wolfe Law Miami, P.A. in Miami, Florida, Founder of Sports Agent Blog Professor of Sport Agency Management at Indiana University and author of a forthcoming book, How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know published by the American Bar Association. Learn more about him at http://www.darrenheitner.com.
Don't Miss: iPhone 8: Everything You Need to Know