Sean Goldfaden always wanted to start his own business, but he just couldn’t find the right idea. First, it was “Fedora Stora,” an online fedora boutique offering a massive selection; it was the perfect idea, except that sizing became too complicated. Looking around for his next big idea, Goldfaden found it right before his eyes.
Wayfarer World was born.
“I love the sunglasses because they are bright and fun,” Goldfaden said. “I wanted to offer unlimited color combinations so everyone could get the exact pair they want.”
The concept: a made-to-order, instant creation of low-cost, customizable Wayfarer-style sunglasses.
UM junior Goldfaden, an advertising and psychology major and a brother of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity, began to formulate his concept last summer, as well as ways he could incorporate online marketing.
“I’ve been really involved with social media and internet marketing for a while and I decided I could take what I know about social media and apply it to my business,” he said.
Goldfaden was still in the first stages of forming Wayfarer World in November 2009 when he heard about the Elevator Pitch Competition hosted by UM’s Launch Pad and OfficeMax. With a $25,000 grand prize and judging criteria including enthusiasm and charisma, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He entered and he won.
“I was enthusiastic and energetic,” Goldfaden said. “The success of this business is getting people excited about their colors and making their own sunglasses.”
With the funding he needed, Goldfaden’s Wayfarer World took off. First, he ordered wayfarer style frames and earpieces of all different types and colors (Goldfaden assembles each pair to order). Second, he established a Facebook Fan Page with over 1,590 members to date touting the slogan, “They will save your life when you’re hungover in class.” Third, he made a commitment to his mother’s breast cancer foundation through philanthropy.
“My mom is an eight-year survivor of breast cancer so I’ve always wanted to find a way I could donate back,” Goldfaden said. “All proceeds from the sales of pink sunglasses go to The Karen Schweibish Breast Cancer Foundation.”
Wayfarer World had their official launch mid-April in the UC Breezeway, with Goldfaden and his girlfriend, UM senior Emily Dash, manning a table covered in colorful sunglass combinations. Brothers from Sigma Alpha Mu also stepped in to help Goldfaden assemble custom pairs and collect money from eager student customers. Each pair cost $10, and a portion of all proceeds went to Goldfaden’s mother’s breast cancer fund.
“Business is going incredible,” Goldfaden said. “We sold over 100 sunglasses on Tuesday and 240 on Thursday. In one week, we sold over 350 sunglasses.”
After a successful launch, Goldfaden has returned to collecting orders via the Wayfarer World Facebook Fan page and planning for the future.
“I’m trying to expand the business to other campuses,” he said. “It wasn’t until after the campus launch, when I watched over 300 people buy sunglasses and how excited they were, that I realized this is a really big thing on campus right now and I’m glad I got started early.”
One student who purchased wayfarer-style sunglasses thought his item was great.
“I think they’re friggin’ awesome to be honest, what a fantastic idea,” said Camron Ghorbi, a UM junior and Wayfarer World customer. “I think they’re only cool vendors I’ve seen in the breezeway in my entire three years here.”
With the support of his friends, girlfriend, fraternity and UM students, Goldfaden will continue to expand Wayfarer World and future entrepreneurial ventures.
“They’re really excited that I started my own business and it’s going well,” Goldfaden said. “Now they just want me to finish school and graduate on time.”
Nina Markowitz may be contacted at email@example.com.