Nancy Black, Creative Director of Safarro gives 100% Optical insight on how her journey to optical industry began, her favourite collections and creative process behind designing her glasses.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the optical industry?
I started working in the industry in 1993 and never looked back. My career in optics has gifted me the most special and treasured friends and relationships.
Actually my professional career is more commercial than design oriented. It was a few years ago that I came into contact with a family run company making incredible eyewear, based just outside of Rome. We decided to collaborate on the Safarro project by bringing together the best of both our worlds. They owned the handmade acetate factories and had years of experience in eyewear design and manufacturing. I brought to the table years of commercial and marketing experience. This union of strengths has enabled us to play with designs in the factories and give our customers unique shapes and colours that are not available elsewhere. Furthermore, and really critical, is that they bring with them a new generation of young creative people. This has been wonderful as they challenge us to take up new ideas and ways of doing things. Without this collaboration I would not have been introduced to this sort of talent.
I don’t take any of it for granted for a moment!
What are your favourite frames throughout all of your collections?
My favourites always tend to be the newest releases. At the moment I am more than in love with our new woman’s model Sorrento, and for men I love our new model Lucca.
What’s your creative process behind designing your glasses?
Our aim is to take classical shapes and modernise them with a twist. Colour plays a very important role in our product development and we study these by attending the major fashion events in Italy. For example, recently our marketing and design team attended the Pitti Fair in Florence – this is the leading trade fair showcasing ready-to-wear clothing and accessories collections for men and women. We take inspiration from these events for our design and, most importantly, our colour palette for the upcoming season. We are fortunate to be based in Rome so following fashion and combining the ‘traditional’ with the ‘new’ is an everyday occurrence for us. We aspire to encase the Italian culture and today’s current fashion trends into our eyewear.
What challenges do you see facing the optical industry in the coming years?
Since 2017 there has been more and more interest in specialty brands. Consumers are increasingly concentrated on what frames look like. The interest is toward the right design, the brand itself is simply not enough anymore. Also it is imperative to resonate with consumers by talking in the “correct way”. What we do see are certain brands suffering maybe because they are not talking to their customers – not using social media, not using digital enough or maybe because the innovation and creativity put into the product doesn’t speak to the consumer anymore.
How will these challenges impact you as an independent Eyewear Designer?
I am ever the optimist and see this as an opportunity for us as an independent brand to tell our story. We need to continue to focus on shapes, colours AND to continuing our efforts on all the social media platforms.
How has 100% Optical helped you to overcome these challenges?
100% Optical gives us the stage in which to perform. It is a rapid introduction into the UK optical market and provides the arena in which to present our designs and reach a wonderful audience. In addition 100% provides numerous support tools throughout the entire year: online communication, mailings, web blasts, etc. During the event the Catwalk show is always a great event to see the latest trends and reach the press and public.
Describe 100% Optical in less than 25 words?
The energy of the event is fantastic and is a platform where the creativity of our product is appreciated. We have experienced a willingness from opticians to engage and try something new.
What career advice would you give your 18 year-old-self?
I would not change a single thing if I could do it all over again. So therefore my advice would be to: engage, educate, motivate and achieve. Cultivate every relationship and remain true to your word and service.
Who is your eyewear inspiration?
I could not say there is a single contributor. It is more a combination of all sorts of events that is our inspiration. Sure it sometimes comes from a brand, but usually it is in a vintage shop with a shape that takes our fancy, or a certain colour that strikes a chord.
What can we expect to see from you this year?
It’s already been a huge year for us. We have expanded globally beyond our expectations and we aim to continue to develop unique shapes in amazing colours and providing the best service we can!