Buying sunglasses can be an excruciatingly awful experience. If the process of shopping for sunglasses isn’t stressful enough, owning and caring for your favorite pair of shades is an anxiety filled relationship. We spoke with fellow Chicago entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of Ellison Sunglasses, Aristotle Loumis, so that we could share his knowledge on what to look for when shopping for sunglasses.
STYL: Aristotle the inspiration for Ellison came during a trip to Greece to visit your father where your sunglasses ended up falling into the Mediterranean Sea and were lost, correct?
ARISTOTLE LOUMIS: Yes, the first time I traveled to Greece was to meet my father. While we were out on his boat, I lost my balance when a wave hit us and the new pair of Ray-Bans my father gifted me fell into the sea. The anxiety I experienced drove me to embrace loss, and I created Ellison so that we can eliminate the fear of loss for our customer’s and encourage them to continue taking the next adventure. When you buy a pair of Ellison’s at full price along with a club Ellison Membership, you get full access to current and future frames at exclusive member pricing (50% off) if you lose your sunglasses.
When creating a sunglasses company from the ground up, how does one go about researching and sourcing materials?
AL: My background was dentistry and I had zero knowledge about sunglasses, so I turned to Google and began researching. After having a prototype designed in China, I capitalized on my contacts in the medical supplies industry in Greece, and we partnered with two reputable businessmen who had built a distribution network of over 2,000 optical retailers. We were successful in locating a manufacturer in Italy that provided the highest quality materials we desired at a price point our customers would appreciate.
Can you please share some tips with our neighborhood what to look for from a structural perspective when they’re shopping for a new pair?
AL: Structural integrity is often overlooked and we take pride that Ellison uses the very best materials sourced from our partners in Italy. Each pair of Ellison sunglasses is made with Italian Mazzucchelli 1849 acetate and CR 39 polarized lenses. If you’re shopping for sunglasses, it’s contingent on your lifestyle – if you’re a surfer, you probably want a pair that's lightweight, whereas a financial advisor would want a heavier frame to match their lifestyle.
Also, pay attention to the hinges when shopping. We use a 5-barrel hinge, where our competitors primarily use only 3. If you’ve had the issue where the temples (often referred to as arms) of your sunglasses become loose this is due to the hinges. We also apply a Teflon coating on the screws that insert into the barrel hinges so that you get a nice smooth drive every time you open and close our sunglasses.
Design plays such an important role in customers purchasing decisions, can you please give us some insight into the design process at Ellison?
AL: God’s done a pretty good job of making our faces as symmetrical as possible. We have to take into account the masses and global trends. Our focus is style vs. function. We do about 80% fashion meets function and 20% creative freedom that’s specific to the Ellison brand.
The majority of styles have already been created and it’s our job is to bring our personality and creative flair to those existing styles. Plus, every pair of Ellison’s are biodegradable.
What is the #1 selling style of Ellison sunglasses, we’d love to know the current trend? Also, does Ellison offer eyeglasses?
AL: Wayfarers are very popular as the style fits more people and is versatile with different head shapes. In the 1960’s the very small lens was popular and that style is also trendy with women right now.
My cousin founded Raise and he asked me if we could build a special eyeglass for his technicians. These guys are staring at a computer screen all day and doctors are just starting to realize the damage this is doing to our eyes. We developed a pair of eyeglasses using BlueTech lenses, which block 99.9% of the most damaging blue light wavelengths and reduces eyestrain, headaches, and sleepless nights. Every pair of Ellison eyeglasses have BlueTech lenses because each and every one of us looks at their computer or digital devices on a daily basis and we all deserve to be protected.
Aristotle, I really appreciate your time and insight. I think we’ve all experienced the pain of losing a pair of sunglasses, and the majority of us have experienced structural issues. It was also fascinating to learn about bluetech and how Ellison eyeglasses protect us from the light given off by our devices.
- Conor Sammartin is a Co-Founder at STYL