Dinner with the Bonaccis, Round 3! National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day
Can you believe we've got another year in the books? It's time for one of our favorite holidays here at Bomber Eyewear!
National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day, celebrated each year on March 29th, is a time to celebrate small, family-run businesses around the world. For the third year running, we sat down with our founders, Tommy and Jamerien Bonacci, to look back on the year behind us and see where Bomber Eyewear is going next.
1. What have you learned over another hectic year?
TOMMY: How important it is to keep checking in, not just with each other but with ourselves.
JAMERIEN: Checking in with mental and emotional health is key. We've been able to recognize and effectively respond to those sometimes dark feelings and moments -- you know, even with the effects of COVID-19 finally starting to lighten up, there are still times where we both need to sit back, take a second, and ground ourselves in why we get up and do what we do every day.
TOMMY: And part of that is checking in with OURSELVES. We're always there for each other -- and our employees and partners as well -- but sometimes you just need to take a few minutes for yourself.
JAMERIEN: And we're learning that's totally okay!
TOMMY: One thing we've also been trying to do is encourage open conversations with our employees and partners, too. This has been SO helpful in creating a positive and empathetic environment, especially when things get super crazy at HQ. Open communication is our first step to addressing those feelings of burnout that we're all too familiar with after the last couple years.
2. How has the business changed over the last year?
JAMERIEN: Our focus is always on the customer experience, but we took that a step further in 2021. With so many customers online nowadays, we put a lot of effort into better anticipating and addressing our community's needs.
TOMMY: Things like customer service, product issues or feedback, or just checking in with our vendors to see how things are going.
JAMERIEN: One of the biggest things we've done is improve our customer service processes. We've made a ton of information about our products, processes, and partnerships available on our website, but we've also introduced new ways of getting in touch with us, like chat, text messaging, email, and a dedicated customer support phone line.
TOMMY: We want community members like you to be able to reach out to us with any issues or feedback and know that we're always here for you. When you pick up the phone and try to reach out to a business, there's nothing more frustrating than not being able to speak to a real human. Well, there's still a living and breathing human being on the other end of the line when you call us!
JAMERIEN: (Laughs) During business hours, anyway!
3. Did you learn anything new about each other in 2021?
JAMERIEN: We've rediscovered how much we love spending time with each other. In all the hustle and bustle of the last couple years, it's been too easy to lose sight of that. In 2022, we've reinstated our Friday night "date night" tradition, and that's been awesome.
TOMMY: Between the kids and the business, it's been pretty cool to take some time to just be with each other every week. Sometimes we go out to a nice restaurant or catch a movie, but usually we just pack a cooler of beer, grab takeout from one of our favorite local spots, and drive down to the beach to watch the sunset.
JAMERIEN: Getting that ritual back has helped us check in with each other -- and get back to the romantic side of the relationship, of course!
TOMMY: You'd be shocked how much having such a good connection outside of work makes life easier at HQ. We work better together when we get to spend time together off the clock, too.
4. When it comes to running the business, what's the biggest hurdle you've had to overcome this year?
TOMMY: (Groans) Tooling!
JAMERIEN: We had a huge issue this year with our tooling, all the things that go into building and manufacturing our sunglasses.
TOMMY: The short version is that our molds and fixtures and frame-making machinery couldn't keep up with our demand. New styles like CLUTCH and MAGNUM sold out as fast as we could produce them -- sometimes faster! We had to throw out a lot of our old production processes and invest in a major overhaul of our tooling system. Over the last few months, things have picked back up to speed -- and hopefully you'll notice in our reduced production and shipping times!
JAMERIEN: When there aren't worldwide shipping delays, of course.
TOMMY: No kidding.
5. Looking back on 2021, what are you most grateful for in your personal lives?
JAMERIEN: Honestly, we're just grateful that our family and friends have been able to survive and thrive. The pandemic was a doozy for so many reasons, and we're just glad to be on the other side of it as best as we can be.
TOMMY: So many people lost loved ones and livelihoods during the pandemic. We're forever grateful for how fortunate we've been.
6. How about in the business?
TOMMY: The same thing, really! We're so honored that Bomber Eyewear has been able to keep kickin' despite the pandemic and the issues we're seeing in the global economy right now.
JAMERIEN: Seriously. We have to give a HUGE shout-out to our amazing customers and community members -- not just the new folks who have been buying up our stock so quickly, but to the people who keep coming back year after year. Without you, there is no us. We wouldn't be the Bomber Eyewear you know and love without you.
TOMMY: You make it all possible and worthwhile, and we hope you never forget it!
7. Have your goals for Bomber Eyewear changed at all since this time last year?
JAMERIEN: We're always looking for new ways to improve -- in any and all areas.
TOMMY: It's pretty simple for us, really. We just want to keep growing and keep connecting with this amazing community we've built.
8. What's next for Bomber Eyewear?
JAMERIEN: We're getting back into live events!
TOMMY: Yes!! Finally!! Now that events like surfing classics and jet ski competitions are coming back, we're finally able to get out and about with our community again. And goodness, did we miss you.
JAMERIEN: You'll be seeing us at more physical events around the country, but particularly in California and Hawaii. We just can't stay away!
TOMMY: New glasses and colors are always on the horizon too, but we're just so pumped to get back with the people we love.
9. What advice do you have for couples like yourselves starting or growing a business in 2022?
JAMERIEN: (Laughs) Never say, "I told you so." If something doesn't work out, don't take it out on your partner -- or yourself.
TOMMY: Nobody wants to hear negativity when something doesn't work out or you've got a big problem to solve. You just have to take it step by step and figure out a solution. Working together is key to that -- we do our best to leave tempers at the door and steer clear of hurt feelings. The biggest thing we've started doing is switching our problem thinking from, "How the hell did this happen and what did we do to deserve it?!" to "Okay, that sucked, but what can we learn from it?"
JAMERIEN: The biggest takeaway: You never have to lose in business.
TOMMY: Or in life!
JAMERIEN: Exactly. I think the saying goes .. You never lose. You either win or you learn.