Gothika’s Scott Smiledge Discusses Leading the Market in Specialty Halloween Contact Lenses

Chat With A Leader In The Halloween Contact Lens industry

PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE, UNITED STATES, June 9, 2024 / — For over two decades, Gothika has been at the forefront of designing and manufacturing specialty Halloween contact lenses. As America’s No. 1 brand for these unique products, Gothika is among the few companies with FDA clearance for its contact lenses.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Scott Smiledge, the dynamic entrepreneur who became an Internet Millionaire in 2009 and now leads Gothika. Here’s what he shared with us about his journey and the brand’s success.

First of all, please introduce yourself.

My name is Scott Smiledge, and I am the director of Gothika brand contact lenses and LensScript prescription verification. I’ve been in the Halloween and special FX industry for over 30 years and in medical device compliance for over 15 years.

You are the founder of Gothika. Why did you start the company?

Gothika was actually founded by my good friend John Patterson. He created Orion Vision Group, which specializes in custom contact lenses, and from that, Gothika emerged. Sadly, John passed away unexpectedly a few years ago. LensServ Optical, where I was CEO, took over the business. Recently, we made an offer to the Johns family to buy the company outright, and our team now owns Gothika.

You have been manufacturing specialty Halloween contact lenses for over 25 years. How has your product changed over the years?

Over the past two decades, contact lens technology has evolved significantly. Gothika was one of the pioneers in sealing designs inside the lenses to prevent contact with the eye. We’ve perfected this system over the years, ensuring our lenses remain vibrant and comfortable, unlike cheaper alternatives whose colors and designs fade over time.

You are now the No. 1 brand for Halloween contact lenses and one of only a few companies to sell contact lens products with FDA clearance. What do you attribute your success to?

Quality is paramount. Ensuring our lenses have valid FDA documentation and are made with customer comfort in mind rather than profit is crucial. While cheap lenses are ubiquitous, they often lack comfort and are made using questionable methods. Gothika is like the Cadillac of Halloween contact lenses. Additionally, we provide corrective lenses in various strengths, being the only theatrical lens company to offer contact lenses in .25 steps to match exact prescriptions. Our custom lenses range from -20.00 to +20.00.

Your contact lenses have become very popular with actors all over the world. How does it feel knowing that some of the biggest names in the entertainment world are wearing your product?

We love working with all our clients! But I understand what you mean—it’s exhilarating to see your product on your favorite shows. I’ll never forget the first time I saw our red vampire lenses on CSI during a vampire episode. The Gothika logo even appeared in the background of one scene. It was an absolute thrill!

What is your biggest selling product at the moment?

Zombies are still incredibly popular! Our White Out Zombie Lenses are currently the best-sellers. Following closely are the Angelic Blue Lenses with their distinctive jagged limbal ring. An honorable mention goes to our Ice Walker lenses.

45 million people wear contact lenses in the USA, while 164 million wear glasses. What are the benefits of wearing contact lenses compared to glasses?

Besides vanity, comfort is a significant factor. A quality lens should feel like nothing on your eye, unlike glasses, which you constantly feel on your face. My first week wearing contact lenses made me feel so free.

Can you see a time when more people will wear contact lenses compared to glasses?

As technology advances, I believe glasses will become obsolete for many people. Who would have imagined 20 years ago that we’d have lenses you can wear for 30 days straight, even while sleeping? Or high-tech lenses that sync with your smartphone? Eyeglass technology hasn’t seen much innovation in the past two decades.

In 2009, you became an Internet millionaire. To what do you attribute your success?

There’s a big misconception about becoming an instant millionaire. Unless you win the lottery, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about unrelenting dedication to your business, never giving up, and constant innovation. The more you fail, the clearer your path becomes.

90% of startups fail within ten years. Why is that figure so high?

People give up too easily. It could be due to a lack of critical thinking skills or ambition. They try something for a few months, don’t see immediate results, and quit. Sometimes, it’s just a bad idea, but I’ve seen some pretty silly products succeed. It’s all about dedication and passion for your plan.

You are a success story, so with so much success behind you, what motivates you in the morning?

A leader is only as good as their team, and the Gothika team is amazing! Our customers know the hard work our customer experience team puts in. The Gothika staff continues to inspire and motivate me with their brilliance every single day. And, of course, coffee—lots of coffee.

Wendy Russi
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