Building on a legacy
Tracing its routes back to the 1960s, Gigi Studios has evolved to produce unique handmade eyewear. Patricia Ramo, CEO, tells OT about the growth of the family business
Can you tell us about the history of Gigi Studios? What does it mean for you to be leading Gigi Studios now?
My grandfather created an eyewear factory in Barcelona back in the 1960s. My father, Luis Ramo, continued with his legacy and from a very young age was involved in the growth of the family business.
I inherited my passion for a well-made product from my father. I accompanied him to international trade fairs and business trips when I was still very young. My father has always made an effort to pass on all his knowledge to me and this is something that I will always be very grateful for. Since I was a child, I have been surrounded by this world, it is something that I have soaked up and that I think I have a gift for.
After I completed my studies in London, at the age of 21 I began working at my father’s company. To begin with, this was just to lend a hand and to earn some money to be able to set up my own projects – at the time I wanted to create my own clothing brand. However, I quickly became hooked into the eyewear field. My father placed his trust in me from the very start and little by little I took on more responsibility and, in the end, transformed the company.
What makes Gigi Studios eyewear unique?
Gigi Studios is an independent company that merges design and creativity with craftsmanship. A free, plural view of fashion that promotes people’s unique identity – I think that’s what makes our eyewear so unique.
What is the latest collection that Gigi Studios has released and why does it stand out from the crowd?
For our last release, we introduced a new collection segmentation. The Vanguard Collection is the top expression of fashion and sophistication, whilst the Icons Collection includes timeless designs with iconic shapes. That allows us to develop frames for different types of people whilst maintaining a uniqueness and special design. Last year we launched Gigi Studios Men collection, optical and sun models designed for the contemporary man, which has been doing really well.
Are there any new products in development that customers should be aware of?
We have a capsule collection that is going to be presented in June and also a new line for teenagers and adults with smaller face proportions, which will be launched shortly. After that, new releases are planned for the end of August along with a 2022 preview in October.
My father has always made an effort to pass on all his knowledge to me and this is something that I will always be very grateful for
How has COVID-19 impacted Gigi Studios? How has the company reacted and adapted to the challenges?
All of us personally experienced difficult times, and professionally it was an absolute challenge. However, it was an opportunity to work on developing better and more innovative collections. We also improved all the departments and internal procedures of the company. Despite the reality of the pandemic, Gigi Studios grew during 2020 and we saw an increase in turnover. The first trimester of 2021 has also been really good for us, with an increase of 50% on turnover compared to the same period in 2020.
How do you think COVID-19 has affected the eyewear sector? What do you think the next few months could look like for the sector?
Of course, it was a radically different year without exhibitions, which are key for sales and brand awareness. During 2020 sales of sun styles were down, however, we are now beginning to see an increase in these again. We are optimistic about vaccination plans and hope that the situation begins to get back to normal in a couple of months.
What do you predict eyewear trends to be in 2021?
I think in the coming months, we’ll see retro-future designs. Bold and rich acetates and also tinted lenses are becoming increasingly popular again. Seventies inspired designs are a clear trend at the moment and will continue to be.
What are the company’s main ambitions for the next 12 months?
Our goal is to continue recruiting talent to expand the brand into many more countries and to develop sales networks that allow us to reach the best optical practices worldwide. Our priority at the moment is to focus on continuing to build strong collections and to reinforce our value proposition to opticians in order to create solid long-term partnerships with our customers.
Fun facts about Gigi Studios
- Patricia Ramo, Gigi Studios’ CEO, told OT: “People always find my age very interesting. I’m currently 28 years old and started managing the company before I was 25 – which is uncommon in the optical industry”
- In 2019 the business rebranded from Gigi Barcelona to Gigi Studios, with Ramo telling OT: “I think we took the decision at the right moment”
- Gigi Studios is led by a young team, Ramo said: “We are all very committed to our work and motivated by the evolution of the company, whilst enjoying the work we do.”