20th August 2013

Moat-model

Sustainable sunnies by Moat House Eyewear

Whether you’re heading off to sunnier climes or  simply have a fancy for a new pair of trendy shades - why not opt for eyewear that’s truly unique, super stylish as well as hand crafted in the UK? Here, Sam Clarke from Moat House Eyewear explains how she and her husband got into making original, wooden eyewear that really is too cool for school.

How did you get started?
My husband, Nick and I wanted a ‘project of passion’ so we took the plunge and sold our family home to fund our new venture. We rented a field from the owners of a medieval Moat House in our village, moved in and set upon thinking about ‘what’ our new venture was going to be… One cold night, shortly after moving in, Nick was just about place another log onto the fire – the log was a fallen limb from an Oak tree at the Moat House and was simply too beautiful to burn so Nick gave thought to what he could make with it. The very next day I received a photo from Nick and the very first pair of ‘Moats’ had been carved. He had used some cinema 3d glasses as a template so the results were humorous and impressive in equal measures!! Since then an investment has been made into some rather more sophisticated tooling and we are now producing eyewear of an unrivalled quality.

What inspired you to tap into the eyewear market? 
We knew we wanted to work with wood and were also aware that nobody in the UK was doing much in the way of wooden eyewear despite it being big in the States. We wanted to get Britain on the map as far as Wooden eyewear was concerned  and have branded the company in a very British way to reflect this.

How did you learn your craft of wood carving?
Nick did a six year apprenticeship in carpentry and building and has worked with wood throughout his career. We’ve worked together on designs and brainstormed different ways of getting it all to come together.

Tell us a bit about your green ethos? 
The depletion of the Earth’s natural resources is something that concerns us all, and rightly so. We at Moat House Eyewear take this issue extremely seriously both as individuals and collectively as a business. There’s nothing wrong with using one of nature’s finest products providing care is taken through responsible forest management to see that replanting is guaranteed – where possible with the same species. Our suppliers use established and reputable veneer mills, mostly situated in the country of origin. We have chosen these suppliers specifically because of their commitment to a responsible environmental practice.

Why are you keeping things British?
British manufacturing has been declining for years and we’re keen to help overturn this trend in whatever small way we can. It would be far more cost effective for us to farm out our work to other countries, still maintaining the ‘handmade’ angle but handmade in Britain is what makes us different. In addition to making everything here in the UK, we keep all of our suppliers, where possible, UK based. The more supplies we get from the UK, the lower our carbon footprint, which supports our brand ethos and culture.

What do you love about making and selling your product?
 Firstly no two pairs are the same so it’s truly exciting watching them evolve. Every layer of wood is unique and is sanded and polished by hand. We also love helping people find the style and wood which suits them best and are stoked when we see people wearing them! They look awesome and feel even better to wear. I couldn’t wear plastic ever again!

What’s your most popular product in 2013?
The Cleopatra range is a huge hit with our female followers - it’s so stylised and sophisticated - real statement eyewear! Men seem to love the Squires which are a ‘Wayfarer inspired’ frame which seems to suit everyone actually, men and women.

What inspires your collections?
We love the vintage look – Audrey Hepburn meets Buddy Holly and Elvis!

How would you describe your creation – in three words?
British / Original / Stylish

What’s unique about them?
Each pair looks slightly different to the next because trees themselves are unique but also, they bring a whole new concept to Britain. People are conditioned to think plastic when they think of sunglasses, but I’m sure if they really thought about it, they would prefer something with less of a carbon footprint. Wood is totally natural and eco-friendly. There is just something totally awesome about wearing wood…

Where and how do you source your materials?
We try wherever possible to buy British – all of our Oak is English, our lenses come from a local firm too and they are about the best you can buy, which was a real spot of luck. Obviously for the more exotic wood, we have to buy this from veneer mills based locally to the tree but our supplier is English and as I said before, they ensure they only use wood from a sustainable source.

What advice would you give others thinking about turning their passion into a career?
You only live once so get researching and get doing it! Rise to the hurdles and brush yourself off after a fall! Be resourceful, negotiate and encourage contra-deals as payment for things you cannot afford.

What does the future hold?
Well we plan on going from strength to strength. We are making plans to move into optical frames too as people love the wood and don’t want to wait for the British sunshine to be able to wear it.

Where can we find out more about your products?
You can can visit our website,  find us on facebook or email us direct on info@moat-house.com

Carrie hunter

Author

Carrie Hunter