Being good for people and the planet
Ed Bird, founder and CEO of the eponymous eyewear brand, tells OT about why his company’s vision is centred on doing good
After securing new investment, Devon-based eyewear brand Bird is looking to the future. Here, founder and CEO Ed Bird tells OT about his immediate plans, and explains why the only future possible is a sustainable one.
Why is Bird Eyewear a unique company?
No one else is creating a whole experience quite like us – the design-led frames, stand-out branding, commitment to sustainability wherever possible, attention to detail at every level, from product to customer experience, and a product that helps people look good, feel good and do good through our Share Your Sun partnership with SolarAid. And having three brothers (Ed, Lawrence and Paul) as founders makes us fairly unique too.
We often spend time in stores educating staff on materials and the stories behind the brand
The company has just received £300,000 in investment. How are you feeling about it?
Very excited. It’s a huge boost. Many people don’t realise we’ve achieved everything so far with very little resources and mostly working on the side around our day jobs. The investment means we’ve got the resources to fully focus on growing the business.
What are Bird's plans with the funding you now have?
We’re building the team and establishing strong business processes behind the scenes (not particularly glamorous, but very important for being sustainable long-term). We’re also developing new product lines, investing in stock, marketing to reach a wider audience, improving our website… the list is endless.
Social good is one trend that is not going away
Sustainability and doing good is a key part of Bird's offering. Do you think this is something that will be important for customers for a long time to come?
Absolutely – and it’s only going to become more important. Soon it will be the norm not the exception for businesses to show they understand the triple bottom line – business needs to be good for people and planet, as well as profit. Customers are increasingly aware of the impact of their purchases. Sustainability and social good is one trend that is not going away.
Has the company got any plans to work with other charities, as well as your Share Your Sun campaign?
We’re committed to SolarAid being our main partner and think this is important to show it’s not just a token gesture. But we’re always open to interesting collaborations or to promoting good causes. We’re really proud to be stocked in the Eden Project as they are an amazing charity.
We have supported other projects like the Wave Project through donating frames to fundraising auctions, and Surfers Against Sewage through doing a beach clean.
Is Bird looking to expand the retail opticians that it works with and, if so, do you think this will be a key growth factor for the business?
Absolutely, we want to be at the forefront of sustainable eyewear, and become known for making frames that are beautiful, unique and have a great story behind them. We offer a range of great point of sale items, and often spend time in stores educating staff on materials and the stories behind the brand.
Will the company be focusing on independent opticians?
Yes, we love working with independents who can curate their collections and are looking for something unique to offer their customers. We’ve designed our ranges to give opticians confidence that they’re offering some of the best frames in the world.
What are Bird's aims for the next year?
Following our investment, we have plenty to do. Establishing new teams and focusing on reaching independent opticians, we'll also be pioneering new materials and launching some great new styles later this spring.
What do you think the top eyewear trends will be in 2020?
Metal and round eyewear is carrying over from last year and we think thicker, more colourful frames will become more and more popular. Classic styles like our Finch and Blackcap never go out of style.