An exclusive interview with Dionne Ellison from Vuliwear® about the inspiration behind the brand. Vuliwear®‘s unique designs are inspired by the awesome patterns and colours in an insect’s eyes, each frame is quality polarized Nylon lenses that reduce glare for better colour and clarity to 100% UV protection.
1) The brand was launched in 2017, what inspired you to start designing glasses?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and wanted my own business. Both of my parents were entrepreneurs; my mother was a seamstress and my father owned a couple of small businesses after being laid off from his job of 25 years. My family is naturally creative. Both of my sisters are artists; one is a fashion designer (Designs By Stef) and the other paints and took up sewing after my mother passed, so clothes and fashion are a big part of my life. It was not my intention to start designing glasses; I honestly stumbled upon it. I noticed that the majority of eyewear brands on the market focus on the frame, we focus on the lenses. Some may say that’s crazy, but that’s okay because I’m not afraid to think outside the box.
2) What was the story behind the insect inspiration?
In 2014, I was surfing the web and came across photographs of insects that were magnified. The magnification was so large you could see the compound eyes of common horseflies that collectively formed the most awesome patterns. Their eyes were beautiful, vibrant and striking to me. Sunglasses immediately came to mind. I asked my best friend and sister what they thought and their initial response was “eeww!”, but once they got passed the bug itself, they were also able to see the beauty. I call them “Beautiful Shades of eeww”.There’s so much beauty around us that we can’t always see with the naked eye. When Fashion & Nature collide, Vuliwear comes alive!
3) What is your production process like?
I didn’t have any idea how to manufacture sunglasses, but like most things, I was willing to give it a try. I work a full-time job (and still do) so I did my research, connected with some good people in the eyewear industry that were willing to help. I’m very fortunate to have Essilor® Sun Solution™ as a partner to produce my lenses and Castellani SRL to make and assemble the frames. Both manufacturers are located in Italy, so production time takes a little longer.
The process starts with an insect photograph; I decide how I want the mirror coated design to look on the lenses. My sister Stephanie Ellison-Lewis then draws the sketch which is sent to the manufacturer to create the lenses. At the same time, our custom designed aviator frame is made and once the lenses are completed, they are shipped to be cut and assembled. When that entire process is complete, they are shipped to me and ready to buy on vuliwear.com.
Production takes approximately 6-8 weeks to complete.
4) What can we expect from Vuliwear with future designs?
As you can imagine, there are millions of insects out there to get our inspiration from so, for me it’s about quality versus quantity and selecting the most unique patterns that represent the uniqueness of the Vuliwear brand. We currently offer our frames in black and gold, but plan to introduce a silver frame in 2018. Our goal is to expand our sunglasses line and begin to design other fashion accessories, clothing etc. for men and women, some of which will also be inspired by nature and beauty that surrounds us.
5) Why is UV protection an important factor to your eyewear?
While doing my research I learned that close to 30% of glaucoma diagnosis was caused by UV rays. Damage also includes: cataracts and macular degeneration. We are aware of what the harmful rays can do to our skin, but we rarely think about our eyes. We also tend to only wear sunglasses when the sun is bright and studies have shown that UV rays are harmful even in the winter/snow season. Surprisingly, clouds do little to protect us against harmful rays.
Vuliwear has a mobile app that can send UV Index alerts. The “Vuliwear” app available in the App Store. You’ll be the first to know when new styles are released along with other exclusive updates.
6) How do you see the future of eyewear designs?
Fashion is cyclical so as it relates to eyewear I think the same applies. I love classic designs like the pea coat and ruffle blouse because they never go out of style. Which is exactly why I chose an aviator frame for Vuliwear®; aviators have been around since 1936 and are still going strong. I hope Vuliwear®will have a similar impact and longevity in the eyewear industry.