facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1

A person sitting at a table with a computer and a penDescription automatically generated

Stories of businesses rebounding after the COVID-19 pandemic are commonplace. Much rarer is how a company managed to grow during the lockdowns. But that’s precisely what sunglasses company Hawkers managed to do under the leadership of Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López.

Aside from the supply chain issues that plagued every industry, Hawkers faced a different kind of challenge that became apparent during the earliest days of the worldwide crisis.

After years of strategically leveraging social media marketing to sell its fashionable and affordable sunglasses, Hawkers was making serious inroads with consumers. The company had a healthy net worth, and its business was expanding from its home in Spain to countries across Europe and the Americas.

However, the hyper-competitive sunglasses industry is hard to break into. For decades, Luxottica has held a virtual monopoly in the sector. Because it owns more than 80% of brands, including major players such as Oakley, Ray-Ban, Costa Del Mar, and more, its dominance in the industry makes it difficult for independent companies to compete.

So when the respiratory virus swept the globe, it came at a particularly vulnerable time for Hawkers.

“The pandemic was a big problem for us, as for many other companies,” Hawkers President Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López said. “It was a big challenge. We had to adapt [because] not many people were going outdoors and needing sunglasses.”

Suddenly, the company faced an existential threat. How does a sunglasses company cater to consumers who don’t need sunglasses? It could have increased its advertising budget and hoped to maintain a presence in consumers’ minds that would last longer than the pandemic. It could have halted production and fired employees, hoping to survive the market downturn by slashing overhead costs.

Or, as Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López decided, the company could pivot to a different product that could satisfy new consumer demands.

For Hawkers, that meant bolstering its nonsunglasses product lines and providing consumers with a new fashionable accessory.

Or, as he put it: “We focused more on developing the eyewear part of it, and we tried to keep the revenue of the company, which was a big challenge, trying to develop new products that would adapt to people not going outdoors, and using eyewear for their computers, and stay more at home.”

Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López: Staying Ahead of the New Normal


The transition from an outdoor, leisure-oriented product line to one that catered to customers who wanted fashionable eyewear for Zoom meetings, virtual classrooms, and over-the-mask grocery shopping was a massive shift for Hawkers. But it wasn’t far from business as usual for Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López.

As a graduate of Boston’s Suffolk University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration, he was trained to understand the complexities of shifting marketplaces. Since his time in college, Betancourt López has worked across many industries and helped a vast array of companies grow into financial maturity or find footholds in new marketplaces. With a net worth north of $2.6 billion, he’s been successful at navigating businesses through transitions and finding competitive advantages.

So, although the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for Hawkers, responding to crises was familiar territory for its president.


He explained his approach simply: “I believe that you have to understand that the world is changing so fast,” he said. “The markets, the appetites, the cultures — everything changes.”


The decision to focus on nonsunglasses eyewear seems obvious in retrospect, but during the wild and unsure early days of the pandemic, nothing felt assured. Even with the pivot, there was no guarantee that consumers would spend their discretionary income on eyewear. But Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López believed he could find a market.

And that’s exactly what he did.

A Better View


The pandemic brought major upheaval to consumer’s lives and behaviors. But while many people reduced the amount of money they spent on sunglasses during the lockdown period, they increased spending in other areas, such as tools for personal health and growth.

That was where Hawkers positioned its nonsunglasses lines of eyewear. The company introduced lines of fashionable eyewear that mimicked its sunglasses’ promise of trendiness without high price tags. Alongside traditional glasses, the company launched a line of nonprescription lenses made with blue blocking technology that filters out certain harmful wavelengths, usually emitted by screens, that can cause eye strain and fatigue.

Paired with more of Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López’s strategic social media marketing, the results of Hawkers’ new lines were encouraging. Quickly, consumers latched on to the idea of buying inexpensive, high-quality fashion accessories that could be seen over internet video chats while simultaneously protecting their vision against increased screen time.

Since then, the nonsunglasses eyewear products at Hawkers have only grown, proving the savviness of pivoting to meet new consumer demands during a pandemic is a smart strategy. 

“We are breaking records every week on our growth and our revenues,” he said. “That means that not only is the brand stronger than ever but there’s a big demand and appetite for our consumers and customers to get our products.”