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meet the maker: CHILDe

Meet Jon Laurenson, founder of CHILDe Eyewear. Jon's experience in fashion eyewear spans 25 years, founding and managing two iconic brands, Arnette and Electric Visual. It was after 10 years pursuing other creative business interests that he felt it was time to make a community driven lifestyle fashion brand with eco-sensibilities. CHILDe was born.

We chat to Jon about the CHILDe journey, his inspiration and his fave shades...


 
THE QUICK CHAT:

AKA: Jon
OFTEN FOUND: At the beach
CURRENTLY WATCHING: Elvis
WHILST SIPPING: Ginger tea
LOOKING FORWARD TO: Getting out of Australia
AND WORKING ON: The Love CHILDe collection

 

THE DEEP DIVE: MEET JON LAURENSON

Tell us a little about yourself? My name is Jon and I grew up in Western Australia before moving to Bondi then Avalon, then Byron Bay and now Melbourne. This is the third sunglasses brand I have been involved with following Arnette in the 90’s and then Electric Visual in the 2000’s. I like to create meaningful brands that promote a sense of culture and purpose, and provide opportunities to the community. I also like to consider and action how we can do better for the future and nature - and have fun and meet new people along the way. I’m also stubborn and blunt because I have no “H” in Jon. (That’s what a very wise naturopath once told me.)

What’s the CHILDe story? CHILDe was founded in 2018 when I realised there was a gap in the market for quality eyewear that combined the science of nature with the aesthetics of design to offer eco-sensitive eyewear that people wanted to wear. I was working in Portugal at the time and I made a trip over to Italy to make contact with some heritage, artisan factories that I knew of there and began discussions with them around my ideas and what materials were available to me.

The eco-options were both limited and expensive, but I knew that with persistence and investment I could create something meaningful. We landed on a plant-based polymer and Mazzuchelli M49 Bio Acetate. Other brands were using these materials for one or two frames within their collections but I wanted to base an entire brand around eco-conscious materials. It wasn’t being done at that stage. Following that factory visit I started working on the CHILDe ‘Ouroboros’ logo with Lisbon street artist Mario Belem and that’s when I knew I was on to something significant. I came back to Australia and spoke to my friend Tim Okkerse and his brother Pete who supported me, and that’s how we got here.

{Visit @nashandbanks for your chance to win these CHILDshades}


How did the name come about?
I wanted a name that represented the raw, punk-like energy that the brand would encapsulate but also represent the sustainability element of the brand. I was using the name ‘Child’ as a code name while I was focused on developing our ‘Ouroboros’ logo to represent the infinite evolution of life, death and earth in connection with our sustainability mission. The meaning of the word Child with an “e” is ‘a youth of noble birth or the offspring of a vampire’ so I thought that was fun and represented the qualities of the brand and energy I wanted to portray. Combine the two - brand name and logo and here we are.

What sets you apart from other sunglass brands? Original design and personality, the use of eco-conscious materials from start to finish and the exceptional fit of our products which comes from 25 years of eyewear experience.

What have been the biggest challenges of creating and growing your brand? Haha, there’s so many challenges every day. How do we make sales and pay our bills is the biggest daily challenge as a start up. Waking up each day to be motivated on your own is very daunting and confronting. Being a small brand is always a battle from the manufacturing side as you get pushed to the back of the line behind larger customers, and minimums can restrict you from doing what you want to do sometimes. Realising that I had no longer had the contacts at retail level from all my previous experience in eyewear due to the changing retail landscape has also been a huge challenge. And probably the biggest challenge of all has been trying to understand and keep pace with the digital space which can waste a lot of time. I prefer to focus on our relationships with our retail partners so that people get an enjoy an authentic and human customer service experience with our eyewear.

{above: SNARE BIO-ACETATE GLOSS BLACK - ROSE GRADIENT VITAL LENS}

 

What obstacles did you have to overcome to create your plant based and biodegradable collections? Production costs present the greatest challenge. The cost of eco-sensitive materials vs. other industry standards that are full of plasticisers and toxins is almost double. The challenge is educating the consumer on the value of that investment, because ultimately, they are the one who has to foot the bill at the counter in the form of a higher RRP. I think we have found a sweet spot that balances value and investment and that really comes down to the quality. Our customers are overwhelmingly really happy with the CHILDe product (we enjoy fantastic reviews via our website). When it comes to our materials we are always on the hunt for new and innovative sustainable options like the plant-based lenses we introduced this year. We want our customers to have confidence in the fact that we are always striving to improve our offer.

Where do you find your inspiration? I find most of my inspiration in people, travel and rock’n’roll music which I then merge with my knowledge around functional fit. I’m also inspired by the aesthetics of particular architecture when traveling and our built environment’s relationship to our natural one.

Favourite pair of CHILDE glasses and why? My personal favourite is the Folsom but I’m currently wearing a new style called the Mood.

{above: DEBASER BIO-ACETATE GLOSS BLACK - GREY GRADIENT LENS}

 

Biggest pinch-yourself moment? Just seeing someone walk down the street that I don’t know wearing a pair of CHILDe sunglasses is always a nice feeling. I always want to ask them where they got them… but I don’t! Being asked to be stocked at Nash + Banks was a great pinch yourself moment too so thankyou Niccii! We love what you do and especially love seeing our product sit alongside other great eco-conscious brands in your physical store space.

What’s next for CHILDe? New colours that will launch with Spring in August and then new styles for Summer when the collection launches in November. (Stay tuned for a special, limited edition ‘Love CHILDe’ collection in between there too) We are working to take the brand overseas and introduce CHILDe globally in 2023. And overall I hope we as a brand can provide more support and opportunities for our community in the future. 

 JON'S FAVOURITE NASH + BANKS PICKS


VIVID BIO-ACETATE TRANSLUCENT COLA - AMBER BIO LENS

The Vivid square sunglass in Translucent Cola with Amber Lens is defined by Childe Eyewear's distinct Childe hand made beveled edging at the top of the brow. The Vivid design is inspired by Elvis Costello’s new wave eyewear fashion from the late 70's.

SHOP HERE


DRUMMER HONEY BROWN SUNGLASSES - AMBER GRADIENT LENS

The Drummer in Honey Tort with Amber Gradient lens is a classic retro inspired rounded sunglass. The beautiful Amber lens will evoke calmness in every view. The subtle side shield design feature provides unique style and comfort.

SHOP HERE


INFINITE TRANSLUCENT EMERALD - GREY BIO LENS

The Infinite Translucent Emerald with Grey Bio Lens is a stylised rectangular cat eye sunglass highlighted by the signature designer bevelled facets. Lightweight, plant based eyewear with a unique Childe accent that defines fashion in eyewear.

SHOP HERE

SHOP ENTIRE CHILDE COLLECTION HERE

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