Passion, drive, and a little bit of luck! Read more about how Cindy Hussey, Founder and Creative Director of Velvet Eyewear, found her niche, grew her company, and had a lot of fun along the way.
Q: We love learning from successful businesswomen who make a difference — and hearing their stories. Tell us, what motivated you to launch your own eyewear business
A: Originally because I just can’t see! I have worn glasses since I was in the first grade when the only selection was a cat eye style in pink or blue. I started in the eyewear business as a retailer fitting and filling prescriptions, and after 10 years shifted to my own brand, Velvet.
Q: Is there a specific, meaningful quotation or directive that exemplifies how to best achieve success and balance in life and business?
A: “Stick to what you know.” My mentor told me this when I was about 18. I was fascinated with his success. He stuck to it through the peaks and valleys of the business cycle over many, many years. And, balance is something I am working on more now than ever.
Q: You are a true innovator. You are a creative thinker, designer, marketing maven, optician — and business leader. Tell us, where, in your opinion, do the great new ideas in business come from? Is it filling a needed niche, being in front of a trend, having a passion and drive, all or none of the above?
A: ALL of the above for sure! And I would add survival and luck.
Q: We love the name Velvet Eyewear and all of the sensory imagery it connotes. How did you come up with the name “Velvet?”
A: It was so random. I was looking for a name for a men’s line and they wanted it to start with a “V.” It seemed like I searched for weeks and finally was at the end of the internet (haha) and I came across Velvet. I fell in love immediately with the name for so many reasons. It wasn’t a good name for a men’s line, but sometimes the best things in life happen when you aren’t looking for them. ☺
Q: At Helen Jon, we care very much about protecting against the sun’s harmful effects. Our surf shirts have UPF 50 built in, which is something we are very proud of. Your eyewear uses a special lens that has been specifically designed to block out 100% of the harmful UV rays and reduce heat and eye strain. You say, “block in beauty; block out harmful UV rays.” Tell us more about how these lenses slow down signs of aging and protect our eyes.
A: UV is one of the harshest elements in our environment that we are exposed to every time we go outside. Some days are harsher than others, but UV is always present. At Velvet, we use 100% UV protection lenses, and we are the first company to inform women that wearing sunglasses can actually help you fight fine lines and crow’s feet. The eyewear industry has always talked about your eye health (super important) but wearing good sunglasses, like Velvet, can actually slow down the aging process around your eyes too. So wear sunglasses every day!
Q: Short of bringing your most trusted (and honest!) friend shopping, what is the best way to pick the most flattering pair of eyeglasses and sunglasses? Face shape, hair color, personal style? How about your “Try It” app, which we happen to think is ingenious.
A: The easiest way to pick the right shape is to choose the shape opposite of your face shape. If you have a round face, buy a square shape, if you have a square face, buy round, etc. Frame color is a bit more complicated and depends on your budget. If you can buy multiple pairs then buy many color options. If you want just one pair, then choose a color that you want to wear all the time and think about your wardrobe. You may love that orange frame in the store, but it might not look good every day.
Q: What is the newest trend in the world of eyewear?
A: Trends are moving fast in eyewear, just like fashion. This is what inspired us to launch our Velvet Trends sunglass collection last year. It is fully on trend, fast fashion at a super affordable price so our customers can buy many and often. Our Velvet Collection is more classic, timeless, simplistic, and modern.
Q: We have all loved and then lost a favorite pair of glasses. Any tips?
A: Don’t sweat it….have fun finding a new love and look!
Q: Wearing sunglasses has always been a true style-marker, a great way to express oneself, to have a little fun, feel a little prettier, a little more unique. What is your favorite, iconic sunglass moment?
A: There are soooooooo many! Velvet is not just mildly influenced by our American icons…I’d say HUGELY influenced. We love Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Janis Joplin. They influenced the eyewear scene forever. I’d say my favorite moment is Jackie Kennedy in anything! Love her style.
Q: You have a deep connection to art and its place and importance in history. And we love your commitment to arts education for kids! Tell us more about this.
A: Art education shapes and SAVES lives and should be available to kids through our educational systems. We support the arts through our foundation by providing recycled materials and funds to organizations that supply our schools with resources they need. We also support the Arts through creative contests, internships, summer camp programs, and educational grants offered to young adults.
Talent can be found in anyone…no matter their race, gender, or social economic circumstance. Let’s find it! Keep “Art” in schools.
We couldn’t agree more. Thanks to Cindy Hussey for talking to us. We have loved getting to know you a little bit better, and we will for sure be visiting Velvet Eyewear for our next pair of sunnies!