Jake Humphrey is a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and British TV presenter. He is also an early Coral Eyewear investor with a real passion for environmental causes.
Q: Why did you decide to back George and Coral Eyewear?
In summer 2019, I was looking for a new pair of sunglasses but knew I didn’t want to buy any that used virgin plastic, or any material that negatively impacts the planet, or that couldn’t be recycled. So, I walked around London’s West End, visiting numerous stores. In each, I asked to see their recycled or planet friendly range.
Not one store had any. To me that is simply unforgivable, and unsustainable. Around this time, I also met George, a student at the University of East Anglia with a real desire and an energy to help improve our planet. George is young, ambitious and a risk taker and I wanted to enable him to make his vision and dream of creating planet-positive eyewear a reality.
With glasses made from plastic taken from landfill and found in the oceans, Coral has the opportunity to change how we see the eyewear industry. It’s unacceptable to think almost all the millions of pairs of glasses and sunglasses sold in the UK every year, use virgin plastic and thanks to Coral it’s going to change. Plus, the sunglasses look great!
Q: Why is investing in talented young people (especially those at your local university) important to you?
I was not particularly successful at school but many of the opportunities that have come my way have been a result of people investing in me as a person, taking a risk and believing in me.
I was lucky enough to have the support and the backing of some amazing industry leaders and it’s helped me to get where I am today. I am now passionate about supporting and investing in the next generation, throughout their studies and after.
I want young people to believe that having the belief to really follow their dreams is half the battle. The seemingly impossible is all too often, highly possible. For me, that starts locally. Some people from outside the county like to label Norfolk as “the graveyard of ambition!”
I know from the people that I meet that the opposite is true, and Norfolk is packed with smart, driven, creative young entrepreneurs. In addition to Coral, the UEA scholarship which I have set up with my wife will open up opportunities for students who may not have otherwise thought a route into media was possible. And now, I have gone one step further, and invested in Coral – a business idea from George, a UEA student.
Q: Is this your first time investing in a ‘green-business’?
In 2010 I set up Whisper, a production company, along with my wife and a couple of friends; it’s now an award-winning business which I am really proud of.
At Whisper we have a track record of doing things right. We run ourselves as carbon-neutrally as possible, and actively seek people who are under-represented in broadcasting.
Almost half our staff are women, and we have really strong LGBTQ+, BAME, and disabled representation. However, this is the first time that I’ve invested in any other business. Not only is the timing right, but it fits perfectly with my morals, and how I want us to live our lives.
Q: Why is conservation/climate change important to you?
I think for the same reason that it is important to a lot of people. We simply can’t carry on living the way we do: filling landfill, polluting our skies and littering the oceans.
Our planet needs us to change our behaviour, and each of us has a part to play. The Covid pandemic has been an awful time for many people but it has also been a time of reflection and the environmental benefits which resulted from the forced change in our behaviour – not using cars, planes etc. were quite amazing to see.
People are becoming increasingly aware of how small steps in the right direction will help and there is more on offer than ever to the consumer to encourage us to make the right choices to benefit the environment when it comes to buying clothes/fashion etc.
Coral Eyewear proves that you can still look good without having to damage the planet.
Q: Does you wear glasses or contacts yourself? And if so, will you be wearing a pair of the glasses?
I don’t’ wear glasses anymore (after having laser treatment!) but I will absolutely be wearing Coral sunglasses. We have an amazing pair of red sunglasses available – and trust me they look incredible!
Q: Why should people get on board with Coral Eyewear?
Our eyewear has to look and feel incredible, and it does. I really believe that Coral Eyewear is as beautiful, desirable and functional as the best eyewear money can buy.
The fact that it is also made with fishing nets taken out of the ocean, all the packaging is sustainable, and it arrives at your door carbon neutral is really quite special. Coral will also provide wider impact through a range of environmental outreach programs to ensure planet-positive activity and research can continue to grow.
Coral Eyewear is thinking about all of its activity, through Ecosia and TreeApp even their office search engines and advertising platforms are helping to plant trees and conserve our environment.
Q: What are your hopes for the future working with George and Coral?
That Coral Eyewear becomes a recognised global brand that stands for great design that is great for the planet, and people eventually consider eyewear from a non-recycled source as unacceptable.