Your Pitch is an opportunity for start-ups and new businesses to tell the city about their organisation. This issue we meet Karl Hallam of Eyeye, the independent opticians offering a more ethical approach to eyecare – including frames made from ocean plastics, and plant-based and recycled materials.
- Tell us about your business – sell yourself!
We aim to be an ethical optician and do this in different ways including booking eye exams an hour apart and for longer than the standard 25 minutes – we believe that 25 minutes is not enough time and can lead to a stressful experience.
Eyeye offers informal but very serious tests that give customers time to explain their concerns and needs, see their test results and pictures and have them explained, and get chance to ask questions. Plus there’s no up-selling and fast-track sales methods.
We stock frames from plastic reclaimed from the sea as well as some Eco frames made from plant-based and recycled materials. We also stock Banton Frameworks, which are designed and made by a lake near Glasgow – very few frames are made in the UK these days and we want to support this.
Our lenses are cut and fitted into our frames at a Sheffield laboratory so we buy locally, not outside the city or even abroad like many optical businesses. We know it’s good quality because its Sheffield craftspeople and the turnaround is quick because they are being sent down Ecclesall Road to us on Division Street!
We also pride ourselves on being cycle friendly – you can bring your bike into the store with you and support a number of initiatives including Cycling Sheffield.
Our upfront, all-inclusive pricing customers know the price at the beginning, not the end and there are no sneaky add-on extras.
- What gave you the idea for your business?
I preferred working for indie opticians, but they often would not have the greatest quality equipment. The big, high street opticians, on the other hand, can do an eye test in 25 minutes, but find me an optometrist who feels that is really long enough for everyone!
I was thinking about doing a PHd in how to run eyecare services differently and then decided to just go for it and do it myself.
Having worked in other areas previously, including public policy, research and politics, I try to bring lessons learned from those areas into the world of eyecare.
- Who are your customers and how are you targeting them?
We’ve identified our tribes! Kids (who know they deserve better), Creative Types (who think they know better), and the Rebel 60+ with attitude who should know better!). We also have a lot of Outdoor City types.
Our customers are independent-minded folk who don’t buy the big brand bulls**t and recognise good service – and there are a lot of those in Sheffield!
Social media is important, but we also host events – recent ones included a presentation and discussion about ocean plastic from Tony Ryan OBE of the University of Sheffield on initiatives including upcycled spectacle frames.
- How can people get in touch with you? (Full contact details inc website plus social media etc)
Pop in to Eyeye at 112 Devonshire Street, Sheffield, S3 7SF.
Tel: 0114 249 8288.