Keep an eye on: Megan Stewart from Smec Eyewear

In an Industry that has had turbulent times over the last few years here in Australia, it is refreshing when you find someone doing something unique and pushing the boundaries. Not many young people I know would consider going into designing Eyewear, and if they did, they would be quickly led into the mass-produced companies on other shores.

But not Megan Stewart. Although ‘accidental’ that she fell into designing Eyewear under the label SMEC, her passion for design, texture and detail have always been her passion. And if you ask me, that’s exactly what eyewear should be. Unafraid to experiment and play with the technical side, Megan’s ideas stem from a strong design aesthetic and her colour work is absolutely stunning. Although only young, this girl is going places – FAST.

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I first came across Megan on good ‘ol Instagram, where I was browsing her feed and knew I just HAD to reach out to her. I mean, she’s young, fun, inspired and pushing Eyewear boundaries – Everything I stand for! After emails back and forth I knew her natural passion for her products was going to be contagious not just to me, but for everyone that comes into contact with her stunning collection.

Founded in 2016, SMEC eyewear has started to develop into a collection that attracts a specific consumer; one that appreciates design and detail, sees eyewear as a statement, not something to hide behind, and someone who understands the power of story-telling. So, even if it was unintentional to end up designing Eyewear, Megan has truly found a unique niche market that is going to support her and SMEC moving forward in the Australian, and International Eyewear scene.

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Lucky for me, I was able to try, play and review some on the SMEC prototypes from the first couple of collections. I could not contain my excitement when I opened the box full of all of these unique designs! The colours are what attracts me to each piece initially. All the samples I saw were made of Titanium, and had been coloured with Blues, purples, golds and pinks and were reminiscent of oil-beads from the 70’s. Absolutely stunning, and due to the process used to finish these frames, no two are ever exactly the same. You all know I LOVE when you can get something unique, that is not mass produced!

Being Titanium, of course they are extremely lightweight to wear, and having metal frames coming back into fashion at the moment, these designs are leading the way. The shapes are like nothing I have seen on the shelves in Australia. With Megans silversmith designing background, she approaches these with a unique perspective of designing for a unique style, rather than what is likely to ‘sell’ to the masses. Pure genius. This is where we need growth in Australian Eyewear- right where people least expect it.

img_0385I was lucky enough to be able to ask Megan a few questions about herself and SMEC eyewear.

TEG: Why did you get into designing eyewear specifically? Was this always your dream?

MEGAN: I got into designing eye wear completely by accident! I was studying jewellery design at Central TAFE in Perth, once completed I decided to go to the ANU School of Art and Design and majoring in Gold and Silversmithing for 3 years.

In the 3rd year, you have an independent project for your major and you get to choose what you want to make/research/develop. One of my minor classes taught me about a ‘world already full of stuff’ and I thought (and still think now) why add to the world with something doesn’t have a use or purpose? From then, I knew that whatever I designed or made had to have a use and not just be an ‘art piece’.

Someone suggested to me ‘Why don’t you design glasses?’. I’d worn them since I was 14 and thought ‘Pfffft, it’ll be a breeze, they’ll be so easy!’. Oh how wrong was I, continuing the project into my honours year, it was the hardest and most testing 2 years of study I’ve ever had!

My dream was always to pursue a creative career, but I never knew it what field to focus on. Since I started making and designing frames, I couldn’t image not continuing with them. They’ve become part of my identity and I want to share my love and passion for well-designed and made frames with designers, makers and retailers the world over.

 

TEG: What inspires you?

Megan: What inspires me most is life, as cliché as it sounds haha! One of my first frames was designed based on the mountains that surround Canberra, whereas the ‘Home’ collection from 2016, is based upon the streets I grew up on and what that time reminds me of. To me, my frames must have a purpose and meaning. I think people are drawn to things they can relate to or intrigued by and I try to design and make frames that embodies this.

TEG: How would you describe your own personal style?

Megan: Ooof that’s a tough one! I would describe my style as someone who likes to co-ordinate (scrap-booking classes taught 10 year old me more than I thought they would!), but in a lets-just-throw-it-together-and-see-what-happens. Eclectic, but cute with a love of oversized, mental looking earrings.img_9881

TEG: What has your experience been within the eyewear industry?

Megan: My experience so far with the eyewear industry has been mostly brilliant! Since starting in 2016, I’ve met the most encouraging and kind people. Eye Candy eyewear in Canberra, was the first connection I had with the industry and gave me so much help and advice. I’m also in contact with Peter Coombs who offers valuable advice.

I was a bit nervous moving back to Perth, however opticians Blink 182 (Leederville) and August eyewear (Perth CBD) have been really helpful. I recently received a message from another optician in Coogee about my frames so it’s been really encouraging.

TEG: What are your favourite materials to work with?

Megan: My favourite materials to work with are leather and titanium. Leather is a beautiful, natural material that lasts for years, and comes in different colours, textures and variations. It’s also something that ages beautifully and can be passed down to future generations. I have my Grandad’s Spectacle case (that inspired the Smec case!) and wallet that he bought from Turkey in the 1980’s and they look exactly the same all these years later.

Titanium is an incredible material as it’s lightweight, hypo-allergenic, strong and can be coloured. With titanium I feel like any design and colour combination is possible – the possibilities are literally endless.

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TEG: What are the biggest challenges for you with designing eyewear?

Megan: The biggest challenges for me whilst designing eyewear have been the technical elements, including the position of the nose bridge, the inside shape of the lens (the simpler it is, the easier it is to cut and fit) and the specific dimensions of a frame. But the hinge has been the hardest part of the frame to refine and develop. I see myself as a design/aesthetics-based thinker so producing a product that must be technically accurate has been tricky.

TEG: Tell me about your two favourite pieces you’ve designed so far?

The First of my favourite piece’s would be the ‘Kenley’ frame from the 2016 ‘Home’ collection. This frame was pretty much a first frame for everything! It was the first round frame I’d designed, first time I’d anodised my frames and first frame to have sunglass lenses fitted. It features a lavender-coloured top and graduates into the grey, sandblasted finish of the titanium. The Rodenstock lenses complement the finish beautifully as it’s a blue/purple lens that graduates to black. I love them so much; they’ve become my personal pair of sunglasses!

The second piece was a pair of frames I designed for my Mum’s 50th birthday, they’ve been heat treated with all different shades of blue. Weirdly enough, the hinge I designed for it, was the first hinge that functions beautifully with the frame and works exactly as intended. They’re a rectangular frame with rounded corners and feature detailing in the top corners. They’re special pair I designed just for her – I recently sent them off to get sunglass lenses fitted so I’m excited to see what they look like!

TEG: What does the future hold for Smec Eyewear?

The future for Smec eyewear would be refined hinges (new prototypes are getting manufactured as I type!), a new range of frames that are currently in the works featuring bold shapes and incredible colours. I would love to collaborate with other designers and makers, and really push the boundaries of eyewear. I want to encourage those who are studying in creative fields, that even though they don’t know where it’ll lead, just go with it. What I hope for Smec Eyewear is that it’s recognised nationally and internationally for its design and innovation in eyewear. To be able to attend Silmo would be an incredible experience, even just seeing my range in a local, independent optician would be indescribably amazing.

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Megan from SMEC Eyewear

Keep an eye out for Smec’s new collection launching:

To keep an eye on what Megan is up to, head to her Instagram feed : @smec_eyewear

And for the entire collection, info and details for Smec, head to the Website: http://www.smeceyewear.com.au

Em xox

5 min intro: Booth and Bruce

“The amount of time and effort you put into selecting your eyewear is mirrored by how you feel when you wear it.

It’s like buying a pair of pants from a sales bin, vs getting custom fitted at a boutique. You get what you pay for and your face will show it every time you wear them” -The Eyewear Girl

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Today I’m wearing Booth and Bruce and I love this frame for the way it highlights all the right features of my face without being too obvious.

Booth and Bruce was born in England in the 1990’s and aim to ‘deliver funky, fashionable frames’.

This frame ticks the boxes for me for a comfortable every day frame that offers just a hint of unique style by the shape.

If you’re after a frame that is elegant and modern that will last through the seasons, this is a range you need to find.

M.

Your Customers’ Inner Voice

(Side Note: Optical Dispenser is the Australian term for Optician.)

These days

Being an Optical Dispenser in Australia in 2019 is extremely underrated. Not only do we deal with the day to day running of a store, keeping up with changes within the industry, health care policies and procedures, fashion and new products (all fun btw), but we also face the challenge of a rapidly changing customer base. Dispensers need to be constantly aware of what their customers are being exposed to more so than ever before.

The internet has opened up a platform for everyone to be a salesperson now. For example, brands can sell themselves how they want to and the customer you used to talk to about frames now comes in and tells YOU about that very same product.

Whether the information they have gathered is correct or not, doesn’t actually matter to them. The internet has given our customers knowledge, but it’s given them only part of the information they need to make an informed decision about a product. It hasn’t educated them in what could be the right decision for their independent personal needs. It’s ultimately given them power, and put us as dispensers and business owners back a few steps.

 

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Face a Face

Who are we?

In most cases, whether we like to admit it or not, a lot of our customers don’t see Optical Dispensers as professionals anymore, but as salespeople. And in some cases this is true – there are people in our Industry being referred to as ‘Dispensers’ that don’t have any formal or technical training which is making it extremely difficult for those of us who are actually qualified.

Those practices who are lucky enough to have a customer base that’s been built up over the years will find that the trust built over time with this group means they are less likely to be effected. But it’s the new customers that we are all struggling with.

This is not limited to just one group either. It’s the shoppers. The bargain hunters. The fashion conscious. The millennials. The customers that get a tiny bit of information, learn one new word and then call themselves an expert.

So, how do we combat this?

How do we get potential customers to believe that we have their best interests in mind and are not ‘pushing’ or ‘selling’ particular gimmicks like ads online?

  • We have to re-establish our profession.
  • We have to figure out a new way to gain our customers trust.

To do this we need to start by learning to listen again, and we need to speak our customer’ s language and educate them, not just on the products that we recommend for them , but on the overall industry .

None of this is new. I’m not talking rocket science and we have all heard these points before. However, there has been a massive shift over the past 5-10 years in how our customers communicate with dispensers in store, and if we don’t recognise this and act on it now we as an entire industry and going to lose even more footing than we already have.

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Rodenstock special edition publication

The art of listening

So, let’s take a look at how we listen. Obviously, what are they actually saying? They

“…want a black frame, but not that black, the other black with less black detail, like that one, but do you have any blacker?”

We’ve all had a customer like this – So. Much. Fun.

We need to keep our customers talking until we are both on the same page. Giving examples is a great idea, and referencing what they are currently wearing works well. When dispensing optical frames one of the worst things you can do is go straight to the frames to look, as this can be overwhelming to a customer and can confuse what they really want.

Take your time more than ever, and talk before you look at frames.

–       “I love that colourful handbag you have! Are you thinking something with a similar pattern for your new glasses?”

–       “What have you loved about the glasses you’re wearing now?”

–       “ We have a lot of black frames in stock, let’s try to get a little more specific with the shape and detailing you prefer before we try too many on”.

 

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Wearing: Vanni

Talk their talk

If you have listened to your potential customer effectively, you should have an idea now of what they want their outcome to be, why and what kind of communicator they are. Talking to a customer about what you recommend based on what they have worn before, or what the Optometrist suggested is no longer enough. (Sorry to all the Optoms out there!)

Basically, we are all starting with the image of being overpriced, no matter what we actually have to offer, so we need to break this thought pattern right from the first moment our customer walks in. So, how do we communicate with new customers effectively? We need to mimic their body language so they feel comfortable. We need to use terminology that resonates with them- which you should have picked up by listening to them. Most importantly: we need to be able to communicate VALUE.

Let’s use first time wearers as an example. Chances are they haven’t looked online in too much depth as yet because they’re still in that headspace of ‘it’ll never happen to me’.

So you’ve built up a great relationship with them, they’re nodding their head at all the right times, you’ve made sure they understand what their glasses will be for *Nodding head*

The coating the optometrist recommended  *Nodding head*

Are they happy with the frame they’ve selected which happened to be the second one because it’s one of our best sellers and it’s black and you made sure it fits them *Nodding head*

Unfortunately, despite their head nodding, you’ve lost them. They may keep the purchase this time, but chances are they will now google ‘their glasses ‘ or what looks similar to them depending on how well you have explained their product to them, and find that they’re online somewhere else for half the price. Or their friend will say “Why did you go there? I got two pair for half that price at _____.” So that customer will likely not come back. Why not?

Because you’ve fixed a problem they didn’t know they had, not created value in something they need.

 

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Rye and Lye Sunglasses

The inner voice

Let’s look at a hypothetical situation, and what your customer is likely thinking, vs saying.

  • You start by saying ‘Right, let’s look at getting your new reading glasses selected’.

They think:  ‘I don’t read a lot, maybe I could get them from the Chemist’

  • When discussing photochromic options, you explain there is an extra charge to consider for this lens type

They think: ‘I’m sure Judy said she got two pairs for less than this frame costs alone’.

  • You say that you will include blue control coating the Optometrist suggested in the quote

They hear: ‘Optometrist suggested…blue lenses?’

  • They nod their head when you ask if they’re happy with the selected frame

They think: ‘I have absolutely no idea about what looks good and I hate people looking at me, I’m just going to say yes so I can get out of here…’

Explanation is key, and getting your timing right supports this. You need to take the time to:

  • Explain the reasons a frame does or does not fit
  • The bridge fit and type
  • The pro’s and con’s of the frame materials
  • Honest feedback on frame colours against different skin tones
  • Exactly WHY what you are recommend will be better than the things that caused issues for the customer than their last pair.

Trust is everything. The more you can demonstrate knowledge and explain it to your customer in a way they can apply it to their life, the more trusting they will be of you and your advice. If we give our customers information, specific to their lifestyle and along the lines of what they have communicated is important to THEM, we are creating value in ourselves as Dispensers, and of our recommendations.  Then give them a choice.

 

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Koali by Morel

Your customer’s choice

Offering a choice in today’s market is easily the best way to close a sale. If you have done all of your preparation correctly, in reading the customer and conveying value to them in a way that they understand, you won’t lose anything by letting them choose.

Offer them their ‘Customised’ option, and then a ‘Basic’ option, which could be a more basic lens design, with or without lens coatings etc. This will make them realise that although you have been discussing a premium product, you have options for them and they are in control. This is what is most likely to get you a return customer, which is what is important in the long run. When your customer then finds similar frames or options for less, be it online, through friends on general advertising, they know that they chose value over price.

 

Wearing: Face a Face

Be proud of your passion!

We don’t want to compete with cheap online sales, or money hungry corporate chains. We put our own blood, sweat and tears into creating a business in this industry because we actually care. We want to help people.

The one thing independent practices have over all of the corporate groups is our ability to connect with our customers and actually get an outcome for them which is both what they want, AND what they need. We are flexible, we have time, and we can customise their experience from beginning to end in a way no online sale or corporate machine can.

We are all in this industry and in our jobs because our customers matter to us. Quality matters to us. Premium vision care matters, and at the end of the day all we want is for our customers to leave our stores being happy and confident with their outcome, no matter what it is.

We just need to speak their language so they see that too.

M.

 

For more information on any of the above points, please email me at

theeyeweargirl@gmail.com

Does wearing glasses make my vision worse?

Time for the truth – Even though I have been in this industry for 17 years now, even my mum still argues this point with me:

“Wearing glasses will make your vision worse

It’s a very common thought amongst people that need or get glasses for the first time, and I actually completely understand where this thought comes from, but it’s time for me to explain it properly.

 

Lets use first time glasses wearers as an example, as this is when this thought most commonly pops up.

 

BEFORE you get glasses, and mostly before you even know you need glasses, your eyes are straining to get the clear vision you know you should be getting. Visual deterioration is gradual which is why most of us don’t notice until someone points out that we are holding the menu across the other side of the table to see it clearly, or you find yourself squinting to see details on the TV at night.

 

It’s usually when you start to notice this on a daily basis, or you start to get headaches for trying to focus that you will see your Optometrist for an eye examination.

Long story short, you are told you need your first pair of glasses!

 

This rule, actually applies to all types of prescriptions, but is more noticeable for people who need glasses for long distance.

 

Cut through the fun part of selecting your frames and eagerly awaiting their arrival, and the day comes when you get to pick them up!

You put them on, and while everything feels a little strange at first, there is definitely a difference in the clarity of your vision. 

The headaches aren’t there.

Things are clearer.

Until you take your glasses off again.

 

Things feel more blurry than they did without glasses before, and it takes a while for your eyes to re-focus.

 

WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!?

 

In short: your new glasses are doing the straining for you.

 

Remember how I pointed out earlier that before you get your glasses your eyes strain to get the clarity you know you should have?

When you put your glasses on, your prescribed lenses are actually doing the ‘straining’ for you, so when you’re wearing them, your eyes relax.

Relaxed eyes = healthy eyes.

 

So, it does make sense that you might think wearing glasses would make your vision ‘worse’ , because when you take them off you are instantly not seeing as clearly as you know you should.

 

Which is correct.

And why the Optometrist prescribed glasses for you.

 

So what happens if you are prescribed glasses, but don’t wear them? Your eyes will not ‘get used to straining’. They will, in most cases, deteriorate quicker due to them straining for longer without help, and cause a lot more unnecessary tension and headaches.

 

In summary, wearing your correct prescription DOES NOT and WILL NOT make your vision worse. What it will do is all the work to get the best clarity possible for you, so that your eyes can relax and be healthier.

 

M.

 

REVIEW: Ryan Adda ME London

Every now and then in our industry, something catches your attention that makes you want to investigate. Something that challenges your previous opinions on a colour, a material, or even brand. Something that has a  little spark of difference that hits you in the right way.

Enter the brand RYAN ADDA  (ryanadda.com)

When I started talking to Ryan it was obvious that we were on the same page. “Your eyewear should reflect your individual personality” is actually written on each of our websites. And their designs are based around the idea to ‘bridge the gap’ between young trendsetters and progressive lens wearers that are in no way looking to give up their style. My kind of thinking!

So when I decided to do a review I was excited, but also a little nervous. Lets be honest; we all know pink minimalist metal frames have never been my thing.

I love bright, I love detail and I love eyewear that has an eccentric energy, much like myself ha. But it’s not always about me. I was intrigued.

IS there a place in our industry right now for the titanium frame to re-appear? Do the younger generation really want frames that are delicate and soft? Yes, there are of course people out there that want minimalist frames and a ‘safer’ style option than the brightly coloured acetates, but the RYAN ADDA collection Is different. There’s a focus on detail and style. The colours are on trend and the shapes are very NOW. So Ryan sent me the frame and I realised there is so much more to the minimalist style that what I’ve previously given it credit for.

When I first saw the RYAN ADDA ME London c5, my reaction was “wow- it’s a real ‘pink’ rose gold”, but when I put it on it complimented my skin tone perfectly, which is no easy feat. My complexion is that olive mix of an Italian / Australian,  that is inside WAY too much of the time.  The soft gold inside is also a nice touch.

The next thing I noticed was the intricate detail in the design. I adore the split bridge as it ads a touch of ‘unique’ without detracting from the overall delicate design. The lens is still bevelled as a normal metal fit, so it wont cause any issues in the lab. The antique finish on the front joint of the temple is also beautiful, just enough to highlight the workmanship, but not too obvious that it would take away from the overall balance.

And the shape – it’s a little different. With a slight tilt towards a hexagonal top, and a more traditional round bottom, they have created a shape that is going to work on just about anyone. Deep enough for any progressive lens wearer, the thin titanium keeps this style light, so at the same time it won’t look too big or bulky on even the most petite faces.

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So, in summary, this frame and the team at RYAN ADDA have definitely opened my eyes to the place in our collections for something softer. And not just for those who want their eyewear to blend into their complexion; also for those of us who have the bright bold colourful frames. We need something different. Something beautiful and delicate that shows style, and perfect design composure. Something minimalist for those days when we need our eyes to do the talking rather than our frames.

So will you see me in them again you ask???

Yes, yes you will 🙂

M.

Featured Eyewear: RYAN ADDA ME London, c5 49-21 – TITANIUM

 

The ‘Right’ One

Your glasses should feel like they represent your personality.

It’s honestly as easy as that!

If you have to talk yourself into the look of a particular frame, it’s simply not the right frame for you. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to try on styles that you wouldn’t normally be attracted to, you’d be amazed at how different they can look once they’re on your face.

This frame by Coco Song CCS (which I have dubbed ‘The Frida Kahlo’ haha) was initially one I picked up thinking the brow line was definitely going to make anyone who tried it on look ANGRY. But, I was wrong, and I ‘m happy to admit it! I tried it on once as the rep was showing me the collection for a store. Then I kept it out of his tray and tried it again. The third time I didn’t want to take it off, and that’s how it became to be mine – It chose me!

The bottom line is take your time and try on anything that appeals to you as ‘different’. If you end up with a similar style to what you previously wore, at least you know you looked at other options.

When you find the right frame, you will know.

M.

Face A Face

I honestly don’t know what else this frame has to do to be given ‘iconic’ status.
Yes it’s been around for a while, and yes a LOT of people own it in at least one colour, but, the shape and fit is still so on trend! 


Face a Face shade 2

It suits almost all face shapes and comes in so many colours you’re bound to fall in love with more than one. 
I don’t own this one but after taking these pics I’m considering it…. probably for the 5 th time over 8 years haha

The interesting thing is, over the years when I’ve gone into Optical practices to look at frames, people have always commented that I should wear warm colours – Reds, Oranges, Browns. While I don’t disagree, I think this Face a Face proves that a particular ‘colour’ isn’t the issue with wearing it. There is a blue, Red, Green, Orange and Pink for everyone!

Although this frame isn’t new, it is still rich in design and true to the Face a Face element of colour work being absolute perfection, and I’m sure it’ll come home with me some day very soon!

Eyewear: Face a Face Shade 2 c1221