FINLAY & CO. : Let The Sun Shine
After last weekend, we’ve started to think summer might at last be on its way – and with it, the perfect excuse to buy a new pair of sunnies. Top of our wish-list are the uber-stylish, wooden-framed glasses from British brand FINLAY & CO. We tracked down one of the founders, David Lochhead, to find out a bit more about the business and the inspiration behind it.
Who works on FINLAY & CO.?
There are four founders – myself, Dane, Tom and Sam – and our social media manager, Joanna. I’m the only one who works full-time on the brand. Interestingly, none of us have much of a fashion background so it’s been a completely new venture, and an adventure for all of us.
What made you start the company – and why did you go for sunglasses?
It all happened when Dane and I were on holiday in Portugal. We were looking at different options for starting our own business, and realised there wasn’t really a British eyewear brand of any note that we liked and wanted to wear. We did a lot of research, and it turned out that there were lots of consumers who felt the same. We looked at various different materials and different shapes, and it was only when we started playing with wood that we felt there was a story there. We were inspired to keep designing and sampling, until we took our products to market last July.
Britain isn’t exactly known for its endless sunshine – how does that affect the brand?
We wanted to capture the spirit of the British summer. We are in a rainy country but it means that when the sun does shine, people really celebrate it – you take a longer lunch break, maybe go away for the weekend with friends… sunglasses are a really important part of that.
Having said that, last April we did our photo shoot in Notting Hill and it rained all day! Instead of running from it, we embraced it and released our first video of all our models running through the rain in Hyde Park. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
Are there any plans for you to go into other areas of fashion?
We wouldn’t rule it out, but for now we’re focusing on the sunglasses. We’ve got various new designs and features that we’re playing with, and somewhere down the line we might go into optical glass as well.
Why did you choose to work with wood?
Wood is a very difficult material to work with, but it’s so rewarding – there’s a real beauty to it, and the grain makes every piece completely unique.
And what’s it like working with your mates?
Brilliant! It’s a real privilege to share the highs together.
How does your faith impact what you do, and your brand generally?
In various ways – our faith is absolutely core to who we are and what we do. We pray at the start of every meeting and whenever faced with tough decisions as a team. Even when we went to our first two eyewear shows in Paris and Milan, we felt very much like God was leading us through them, and helping us along the way. We needed manufacturers who would be willing to help us work with wood, and we needed suppliers to help us with good-quality packaging. We prayed before we went in, and on both occasions we ended up dealing with the very first stalls that we walked up to – out of the thousands that were there.
It made us feel that there’s a much bigger story here – it’s not just about us. While it’s wonderful to build a brand and to work in business, there’s a lot more to life. We want our brand to be known for being good, but we want it to stand for more than that, too.
FINLAY & CO. sunglasses are on sale at selected retailers in London and New York, and online at finlayandco.com.