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Korean Eyewear Retailer Gentle Monster, the un-Warby Parker, Plans More U.S. Stores

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Founder knew he couldn’t be another copycat if he wanted to succeed.

Hankook Kim, the founder and CEO of Gentle Monster, is planning to open more U.S. stores after cutting the ribbon on the Korean eyewear retailer’s first location in New York City, the Business of Fashion writes. A downtown Los Angeles location is set to open at the end of this year, the article says, and the retailer is also considering Miami and Dallas locations “with the goal of opening 10 more stores in the Western region — including Europe – by 2019.”

The article also explains how, when Gentle Monster was launched in 2011, “the world was awash with Warby Parker clones” who imitated the American company’s business model and mimicked its visual identity. And while Kim was influenced by Warby’s approach to customer service, “he quickly realized that his brand, Gentle Monster, would need to be more than a copycat to survive. Especially in Asia, where consumers had an unmet desire for something completely different than their Western counterparts: ultra-oversize eyewear. … Indeed, what may propel Gentle Monster forward in the U.S. and elsewhere is its unique design sensibility, which kept it from being seen as a copycat in the first place.”

Sunglasses from Gentle Monster.

Read more at the Business of Fashion

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Frameri Lens and Frame Technology Up for Auction

A portfolio including patents, patent applications and trademarks will be sold.

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SAN DIEGO, CA — Heritage Global Patents & Trademarks has been appointed to auction the intellectual property of Frameri Inc.

The intellectual property portfolio to be sold consists of granted patents, patent applications and trademarks and will be sold as one auction lot to the highest bidder.

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Frameri gained attention when it was featured in a 2015 episode of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” “Shark Tank” allows entrepreneurs of young, growing companies to make a presentation to a panel of astute investors known as “Sharks” to entice the Sharks to make an investment in their company.  “Shark” Kevin O’Learymade an offer to Frameri’s founders on the show, but they declined it.

Ross Dove, CEO of Heritage Global, said, “This is a perfect example of an excellent technology living on after a corporate shutdown by being purchased by an entity capable of realizing the full potential of this technology. Given the enormous size of the eyeglass market, this could be an industry game-changer for the company with the vision to see the magnitude of this opportunity.”

Doug Berman, director of Heritage Global Patents & Trademarks, added, “This is an exceptional opportunity for entrepreneurs to either add to their existing eyewear patents or for a newcomer to jump-start their entry into that space.

It was reported in January 2018 that Frameri was shutting down.

Frameri, which was founded in 2012, is known for making glasses that allow the wearer to pop the lenses out and insert them into other frames.

In June 2017 it was reported that 28 eyecare retailers in 15 states were selling Frameri’s products. The company was, at the time, also in talks to open showrooms in other cities to complement the one it had in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati.

Click here to see a demonstration of Frameri’s frame and lens system.

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And the Optometry School with the Highest Exam Pass Rate Is …

The pass rate nationally was 92 percent.

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Southern College of Optometry had the highest exam pass rate for 2017-18, according to newly released data.

For the second year, the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry partnered with the National Board of Examiners in Optometry to make the pass rates for the 2017-18 academic year at every institution available on its website. Data for the 21 schools is found here.

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“The results are from calculations using candidates’ scores who have both graduated during the listed timeframe and attempted all three parts at least once,” said Dr. Jill Bryant, NBEO’s executive director. 

The ultimate pass rate for Southern College of Optometry’s 130 candidates was 100 percent. The school requires students to take and pass parts I and II for graduation.

The school with the next highest pass rate was the University of California/Berkeley, at 98.41 percent.

The ultimate pass rate nationally was 92.09 percent.

“The national pass rates from our institutions are important information for all stakeholders in our profession, and we are happy to make this information readily available,” said Dr. David Damari, ASCO president.

“Faculty at every one of our member institutions aims to equip each optometry student with the skills and knowledge to pass each part of the exam. We all are always working toward 100% pass rate.”

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Optical Display Firm ‘Moving Forward’ After HQ Is Damaged by Wildfire

‘Down but not out,’ CEO says.

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PARADISE, CA — Though it lost over 75 percent of its facility in one of California’s worst natural disasters, Fashion Optical Displays has announced that it is moving forward and working with a certified manufacturer to fulfill current and new orders.

“We may be down, as the saying goes, but we’re not out,” Matthew Kiraly, president of Fashion Optical, said in a press release. “Though the worst of the fire has passed, there is still much to be done — not only at our company but for the entire area.”

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The company, which designs, manufactures and installs custom dispensary environments, sustained substantial losses in the November 2018 Camp Fire, the worst wildfire in California’s history, according to the release. The blaze devastated the company’s home town of Paradise and was responsible for the loss of over 86 lives and 18,000 homes and other buildings.

Kiraly said Fashion Optical has opened a temporary office in nearby Chico, CA.

“Though the company isn’t looking to expand operations at the present time, it is fulfilling orders with the expectation of moving forward,” according to the release.

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“All of our employees are safe, which is the most important thing,” Kiraly said.

“Though we’ve all lost so much, the spirit and resilience of our employees and neighbors allows us to look to the future with some degree of hope.”

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