Eyewear products are not designed to fit people with low and wide nose bridges. Instead, most off-the-shelf or ready-toorder products are designed to fit high and narrow nasal bridges (Caucasian nasal features). Consequently, people with low and wide bridges (mostly people of African descent”) have little option but to wear badly fitting sunglasses, get custom-made frames at a huge cost or opt-out of wearing sunglasses altogether.
An eyewear brand focused on designing and producing glasses to fit most of Black People’s nose profiles. Incorporating significant changes to frame design in combination with great aesthetics and material finish. Our products are 3D-printed in nylon and premium cellulose acetate. The Project incorporates algorithmic design in combination with additive manufacturing to speed up design iterations and product development. Our product development framework easily and quickly responds to changes in consumer choices.
Reframd as an idea was born out of a series of personal frustrations of not finding correct fitting sunglasses. Up to this point, Ackeem thought that perhaps his face was not made for eyewear; it was from the externalization of his frustrations that Ackeem realized it was not his face that was the problem but instead that the products were made for someone's nose. A few years later, Ackeem began producing a small number of prototypes and took some to the African Food Festival in Berlin. Living in a predominantly white country, this was an event at which he could be sure he would meet a lot of Black people. It was here that Ackeem also met his Reframd business partner Shariff.
THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT
After the realisation that the problem wasn’t with us or our faces, but with the product itself. It became clear that the product was not made for people like us, and that we could do something to change that. Most glasses are designed to fit high and narrow nose bridges – characteristics typically found in Caucasian people. Those with lower and wider nasal bridges, however, have fewer choices and must adapt to glasses that don’t fit as well. This means that hundreds of millions of people across the world wear ill-fitting products. We need inclusion, representation, and participation of diverse groups of people at various product development levels. For the fashion accessories industry – or indeed, any industry – to ensure it is catering to all races and identities, it needs to have diverse teams throughout.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
We have gone through a change in the format that our customers get our products. We started with a fixed set of sizes (small, medium, and large) and three nose types, covering a broad enough population. We quickly realized that this would be very expensive under traditional manufacturing processes as every size and nose type requires a specific setup and minimum
orders. We also felt that we could push ourselves further on the innovation slider and go for fully customized sunglasses and digital fabrication (3D printing). While the unit cost over time maybe more, digital fabrication’s flexibility outweighs mass manufacturing, especially for start-up like ours. Our current process involves customers getting their faces measured through a machine learning model to get information about their facial features (positions and sizes). We then move to a 3D modeling program to create a custom frame for each customer from the info gathered. Finally, we send the 3D files to a 3D printing production partner.
- A big challenge was to find a manufacturer that can produce high-level 3d printed eyewear frames.
- Educating people on the fact that not all eyewear that is produced, fits their facial structure.
- We’re aware that this problem doesn’t only affect black people but also other demographic groups. We got some reactions from people claiming that Reframd is not inclusive. However, our approach is actually inclusive because our designs can be adapted to fit any nose profile. Products, we had to start somewhere. Given that we are black, it seemed apparent to start closer to home.
Castor gave us the possibility to transform our prototype into a market-ready product from organic materials. Partnering with Castor gave us access to a broader range of expertise in production and manufacturing. A good partner brings knowledge and experience you may be lacking or complementary skills to help you grow your business.
We’re a small team with huge ambitions. In the future, Reframd will be a global brand with customers on every continent. We’ll regularly host pop-up stores in our main markets where potential customers will interact with our products in real life. Also, will it be possible for customers to do an online eye exam from home.Our immediate concern is our upcoming Kickstarter campaign, with which we aim to launch a small collection and raise brand awareness. Depending on the campaign’s outcome and other funding initiatives, we hope to expand our team by several people to dedicate as many resources as we can to furthering Reframd. We continuously receive positive feedback from across the world, and our customer base is growing from the initial Black People to also people of East Asian descent. So internationalization will be a big topic for us in a few months to a year. Of course, all this depends on many factors, such as a successful Kickstarter campaign and attracting other investment forms. When it comes to the culture that we’re building, we want people to really own what they do and be given the autonomy and freedom to make mistakes, learn, and create something meaningful.
One of the best things about working collaboratively with people/companies who bring different skillsets and backgrounds to the table is learning from their experience. Companies that collaborate not only have an opportunity to learn from each other and their mistakes, successes,failures and workflows. It would be best if you committed to honesty and transparency in your business relationships. This principle will do more to trust than any other action on our part. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” People will appreciate your honesty, mainly if you follow up with a promise to find an answer to their questions or problems.