Spotlight on: Ed & Sam from Pared Eyewear
Pared has come a long way since its launch in 2012. Their unique signature frames seem to be everywhere – from Cochella to VAMFF, on the faces of celebrities such as Suki Waterhouse, Louise Roe and Beyonce (!) and in collaborations with labels such as Emma Mulholland, Poms Jewellery and Bec & Bridge. With this track record, we couldn’t wait to chat with co-founders Sam and Ed to find out more about their brand journey and the secret sauce behind their epic success.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHO YOU ARE & WHERE YOU’VE WORKED?
Sam: I am Sam Stevenson, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Pared Eyewear. I always knew I wanted to work in a creative field, I studied design at UNSW Art & Design (formally COFA UNSW) and worked for ksubi in the eyewear department learning the ropes there. I met Ed, we had an office romance and then decided to start a company together! It’s been a wild ride ever since, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Ed: I am Ed Baker. The Co-founder of Pared Eyewear and husband to Samantha Stevenson my Co-founder and the creative Director of Pared.
I grew up in Melbourne. Through my Japanese language study at University, I hosted some Japanese buyers at IMG Fashion Week who I then ended up working for in Japan. The company was a distribution company that represented Ksubi, the connection eventually landed me a job in their warehouse as Inventory Controller. It was there I met my wife Sam and the rest is history.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH PARED? WHAT WAS THAT JOURNEY LIKE?
Sam: After working for someone else for so long, I’d learnt a lot but felt it was time to tell my own story. I was interested in putting my personal stamp on a product from start to finish. I started concepting the brand and sampling and once we felt like we had some string shapes we took the leap of faith to start pared. It was scary and a long journey, but the hard work is definitely starting to pay off now and I’m proud that we have been able to hire staff and grow the brand. It’s amazing to have a small, family-focused team now.
Ed: The vision behind the brand really came from Sam and her skill and experience in the marketplace. I was definitely the driving force for her to have the courage to launch something and with the support of some friends, we made a plan and executed a launch in 2012.
The early years were very slow to be honest. I worked full time on other brands up until 2015 and Sam ran the business with the support of two family members, one of which still works in our business today.
We saw traction in 2015 and decided to take a new leap of faith – head to the US to try and grow the business there.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LOOK LIKE AT PARED EYEWEAR?
Sam: My days are usually spent chatting with the team about sales, marketing and graphics and making sure this is all implemented and works across the brand story. The bulk of my time (and my major focus) is spent following up on samples, production and designs for each range. I try to be across what everyone is doing, what styles are working and getting as much visual stimulation as possible to keep the creative juices flowing. I’m about to start designing next summer now so I have been looking at books, magazines, pinterest and working out the next direction for the range which is always fun!
Ed: Every day is different however I usually work outside of regular hours. I have calls with New York and LA from 7am to 10am and then work with our team in Brisbane during office hours. Europe comes online from 5pm which usually kicks off new email conversations. My major role at pared is sales and business development, so I try hard to work all the time zones but sometimes the body needs a break!
YOU DO ALOT OF SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATIONS – WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS FOR COLLABS & WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THEM SO SUCCESSFUL?
Sam: The collaborations will always be a big part of our business and something I really enjoy working on each season. Every brand I work with is different and makes me think outside the box creatively so I enjoy the challenge. It means we can reach a different customer and have fun with eyewear which is always what I set out to do.
Ed: Collaboration has always been a natural focus of what we have tried to do with our brand. Eyewear is not something many people specialise in and for that reason, it gives us a great opportunity to work with a great mix of brands. We try and keep our collaboration model very flexible to try and work with a wide range of partners from different platforms and backgrounds. Over time we have streamlined the business process but the end result is always a frame that the consumer seems to love which means that arm of the business continues to go from strength to strength.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Sam: Travel and running my own schedule (no commute!!). Working with my husband and sister is very dear to me also. The fact that I get to be creative and make a job of it is also humbling. It’s so nice that our product is being well received in the marketplace and that people like my creations!
Ed: I travel a lot which means I am not usually tied to a desk which I love. My favourite part of running the Pared brand is meeting great people from all over the world. I also love meeting with other brand owners and hearing their stories about challenges and successes they’ve had. I feel like Australians don’t do that enough so it’s always refreshing to meet business parents abroad who are willing to help you on the journey.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST ‘PINCH ME’ MOMENT SINCE STARTING THE LABEL?
Sam: Mine is always seeing people that I don’t know wearing the brand. It gets me every time and makes me feel like this is real!!
Ed: Honestly waking up and still being on this journey is a pinch moment every day. There’s so much fear and uncertainty in the early years so to get to a place where you aren’t constantly ‘freaking out’ is a win.
Landing Nordstrom was a huge moment for us and is something I’ll always be proud of. I remember being in that meeting in Seattle with a 5 person Nordstrom buying team and Sam, thinking to myself – ‘this is it’!
WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON AT PARED? ARE THERE ANY MAJOR MILESTONES THAT YOU ARE HOPING TO ACHIEVE IN 2018?
Sam: My most major milestone in early 2018 will be having our first child and expanding our family which will create more madness in our already chaotic lives! Perhaps it’ll be the start of a children’s line! We also have more exciting collaborations to come next year and I can’t wait to share these with our customer.
Ed: 2018 is set to be a big year on all front. On a personal level, Sam and I are set to become new parents in January which will be an amazing start to the year.
For the brand, we are very excited about the launch of our new collaboration with Danish design duo Helena Christensen and Camilla Staerk. We have some exciting events planned for this which will be a great evolution for the brand.
2018 will also see further growth for the brand in the US so we are excited to see this take shape. We are also hoping to officially launch our European strategy in 2018 which is very exciting.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 TIPS FOR MANAGING A SUCCESSFUL BRAND?
Sam: Be flexible, work hard and be passionate.
Ed: Stay positive, ask for help from people you respect and admire and learn from your mistakes.
HOW IMPORTANT IS PR FOR YOUR BRAND? HOW HAS THE PR LANDSCAPE CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
Sam: Press is extremely important for us and helps to drive awareness to the brand. With social media and the new digital landscape, we have seen a shift from the traditional print model (although this is still my favourite medium) and there are now so many other ways to get in front of your customer.
Ed: Press is critical for a new brand and is always a major discussion between Sam and I. We have invested heavily in press, gifting, influencer placements and events over the years and we feel it has helped our brand grow considerably.
It is always challenging to judge the ROI however with the growing digital marketing space there are now many ways to highlight your brand through social that complement the existing PR space.
WHAT ROLE DOES FLAUNTER PLAY IN YOUR WORK LIFE? WHAT’S THE MAIN PROBLEM THAT FLAUNTER SOLVES FOR YOU?
Sam: Flaunter keeps everything in one place, is easy to use and means that our brand imagery can be viewed and accessed easily. It just makes life easier for everyone!
Ed: Flaunter is an amazing way for us to showcase our brand and imagery in a streamlined format with media outlets and stylists as well as promote new Press Releases and brand launches.
In addition, our partnership with Flaunter has allowed us to expand our network and visibility in the PR marketplace through partnerships with the Australian Fashion Chamber.
WHAT TOOLS DID YOU USE BEFORE US?
Sam: We utilise PR agencies and reach out to press, stylists and publications independently, however having a space that all our contacts can access relevant and up to date product information is really useful and time saving for everyone.
Ed: We used a lot of Dropbox and pdf lookbooks which are slow and clunky.
IF YOU WEREN’T KILLING IT IN THE FASHION WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW?
Sam: Art gallery curator, working for a magazine or in interiors (I need to be surrounded by lovely things!!).
Ed: I once thought I would work for the Reserve Bank which seems a complete change from what I do now. Perhaps a job with Austrade or DFAT!
Calling all media – browse and download hi-res publishable images from Pared Eyewear on Flaunter.