In Conversation With… Bird Eyewear
What made you decide to start Bird and what’s the inspiration behind the business?
I come from a creative family where everyone’s got skills in designing, making, tinkering with new ideas. For as long as I can remember, my brothers and I have wanted to turn one of our many creative projects into a business. We noticed several years ago that in the eyewear industry there weren't many brands focusing on sustainable materials or being a force for good. There was a 'Bird' shaped gap in the market, so we figured it was the right time to do something about it.
How do you source your materials and what have been the main challenges?
Whilst eyewear is our focus, we don’t stop there when it comes to developing better materials. We’re always seeking out the best and most sustainable materials, including certified woods, bio-based acetate, renewable cork and recycled aluminium.
Material sourcing and R&D is always difficult and very time consuming. It took us 16 months of trials before we landed on our first finished product. From there, we’ve constantly iterated our methods and materials so now our complete package is as good it can be, whether that’s pouches made from recycled bottles to our low-carbon frames. Every part of our product is important and gets the same level of attention.
Please can you tell us a bit about your partnership with Solar Aid.
Our Share Your Sun project started right at the very beginning when we were brainstorming what we wanted the brand to represent and achieve. For every pair sold we distribute solar light to remote communities in Malawi and Uganda. The problem is, over 500 million people in Africa have no access to electricity. Without electricity families have no clean source of light, leaving millions to rely on expensive and dangerous alternatives. Many use homemade kerosene lamps which are a poor source of light; they emit toxic black smoke, cost money to run and are extremely hazardous. With a renewable solar light everything changes; health improves, families can save money on fuel, children can study more, the list goes on. We have family links with central Africa so the partnership was a natural coming together between ourselves and SolarAid. To date, we’ve supported over 8,000 people in this way.
Why did Flexi-Hex® stand out as a suitable packaging solution for you?
We’re always looking for new and innovative materials or solutions. Flexi-Hex immediately caught our eye because of the incredible design structure (we love taking inspiration from nature), but also the sustainable nature of materials used. It was really a win-win for us at a time when we were looking to upgrade our nest box (what we call our complete package). We also love that they can be reused, and we know many of customers make use of this.
"Flexi-Hex immediately caught our eye because of the incredible design structure... but also the sustainable nature of materials used."
WHY IS BECOMING CARBON NEGATIVE SO IMPORTANT TO YOU AND HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY OFFSET YOUR CARBON EMISSIONS?
For us, it’s about reframing what really matters – people and planet. Our aim is to show that as a company we can give more to world than we take (both as a metaphor and in carbon). We’ve just finished a huge piece work detailing our entire company carbon emissions including our supply-chain, landed product cost, shipping to customers and end of life. We already take a number of measures to limit our carbon impact and through our work with SolarAid we’re able to offset even more carbon. We can’t wait to publish our full report and share our findings later this year. Keep your eyes peeled!
What personal changes have you made recently to be more eco-friendly?
A few things this year, including fitting solar panels on our house, quitting coffee (never thought I’d do that!) and putting more effort to buying local or UK-based foods. Small steps all add up!