[Video] Small Business Success Stories: Living Their Vision

On the verge of becoming empty nesters, Rand and Janeel Smith, proud parents of eight children, decided to buy their own business. Janeel was a music teacher; Rand had been in the eyewear industry for decades.

They decided to use their retirement funds to start a retail eyewear business.

Rand explains, “We wanted to start our business using our 401k monies but we had no idea how to do it. Our friend told us about Guidant Financial, so we contacted them and had a great experience.”

Now, they own the thriving eyeSmith Sport & Fashion Optical store in Kansas City, Missouri. Their store specializes in outfitting sport enthusiasts with appropriate eyewear for their activities.

“We can put prescriptions in sunglasses for fisherman, for skiers, for scuba divers, for motorcycle riders—so it’s a draw that people want,” says Janeel.

They attract out-of-state customers with their state-of-the-art technology for eyewear fittings and unique selection. In addition, they consider their customers their friends.

They attract out-of-state customers with their state-of-the-art technology for eyewear fittings and unique selection. In addition, they consider their customers their friends.

If you’re ever in the Kansas City metropolitan area, be sure to stop in and say “hi.” You’ll be greeted with friendly smiles, excellent customer service and a beautiful store. We dare you to not try on a pair of glasses!

No time for a quick video? Here’s the transcript:

Rand Smith: My name is Rand Smith, the name of our store is eyeSmith Sport & Fashion Optical. It’s a family business — it’s myself and my wife and our son.

Janeel Smith: My name is Janeel Smith, I do just about everything, I call myself the chief financial officer but when you own your business and you’re working with your husband, we do everything.

Janeel: We have so many products here that are unique to us. We can put prescriptions in sunglasses for fisherman, for skiers, for scuba divers, for motorcycle riders. So, it’s a draw that people want.

Rand: The thing that sets us apart is the fact that we have many fashion products that you don’t find up in the Northland of Kansas City. We have wall to wall frames, fashion frames — that’s one part of our business.

The other part of our business is the fact that we have a huge selection of sunglasses. Ninety-nine percent of those sunglasses can take a prescription and no one else in Kansas City has that kind of offering.

We wanted to start our business using our 401(k) funds but we had no idea how to do it. Our friend told us about Guidant Financial and so we contacted them and had a great experience.

One of the specific things that they did is they had us get in contact with a tremendous attorney. Every one we’ve spoken to at Guidant has been an expert in that field.

Janeel: Our designer recommended green. As we were choosing different colors our builder said, “Oh that’s the color of money, you should use that.” We’ve done something very fun in advertising to get our children involved. We have eight children and years ago we got into geocaching. Recently at our recent family reunion, our 28-year-old son, reintroduced us to geocaching and I said, “We should do something with geocaching.”

So, we had our 15-year-old son put together a geocache that’s very near our store. We’ve had people who’ve come to geocache and my son has said that on the site where you put the geocache they’ve even said, “I think I found my next place to get a pair of glasses.”

Rand: That’s been a very pleasant surprise here at eyeSmith: our customers are our friends and they leave delighted. So when they put their eyewear on, the first words out of their mouth, nine out of ten times, as they look around, is “Wow!” One thing that we’ve discovered is that dealing with the public is a blast.

Janeel: People try our polarized sunglasses and they’re like, “Oh my goodness. It just cuts through the glare.”

Rand: It’s like helping your friends all day long, even though they might not know us or we might not know them when they first walk into the stores, by the time they leave they’re our friends.

Janeel: I think the best lesson I’ve learned is probably how much effort goes into working for yourself. Working with Guidant has been a very positive experience for us.

Rand: I would advise someone else to go with Guidant as well, because they helped us greatly.

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