Hello, my name is George and I'm the co-founder of Coral Eyewear - a business I started 3 years ago from university halls in Norwich.
Most universities would have worried about me skipping classes to build our first prototype or to pitch to investors. However, UEA actually financed our first ever set of glasses and I'm forever grateful that they saw the power in the Climate Change credentials we're developing at Coral Eyewear.
Less than a year after our first product went onto the shelf, we're now selling Coral Eyewear in over 100 opticians across the UK, as well as supplying international sports teams with sunglasses as they travel across the world.
A quick timeline:
- 2000 - Born in Manchester.
- 2017 - Took the fairly traditional route of studying for A levels and went off to uni.
- Summer 2018 - Didn't like the traditional route so looked to start a business that could have an impact on plastic-use.
- Winter 2018 - Told my university about the scale of the fishing net problem and how much plastic was used in the eyewear industry... Received funding to build Coral Eyewear.
- 2019 - Hired a team of incredible designers and product managers who had previously launched products at Paris Fashion Week.
- February 2020 - Covid made the world seem a very scary place...
- June 2020 - Hundreds of our amazing early supporters backed the business via Kickstarter.
- October 2020 - We launched our first product into an Indpendent Opticians in Norwich.
- January 2021 - Beauhurst kindly named me as one of the most impressive student founders in the UK.
- May 2021 - We're now stocked in over 100 stores across the UK and have our eyes set on being a world-leading, planet-positive eyewear brand.
Why I started Coral Eyewear
I was sick of brands using virgin plastic.
My parents ran an opticians when I was growing up, so I've been around glasses and sunglasses my whole life. It's an industry with HUGE amounts of choice; different colours, shapes, styles, lenses. To get people to switch, recycled products have to look and feel incredible and when it came to sustainable materials there simply wasn't any choice.
With the technology in the world and huge innovation in fashion, I found it hard to believe that you had to sacrifice quality or style to purchase a product made more sustainably.
So, Coral Eyewear is my response to the big brands who simply don't care enough to switch their production to more sustainable materials. Profit will always come over planet or people for a business focused solely on growth and so at Coral Eyewear we define our success differently. Yes, financial performance has to come into any business, but at the beginning and end of every single meeting we return to our impact and responsibility to educate.
The term we come back to each day is 'Planet-Positive'. I want us to find ways to contribute to supporting our planet; be it through collecting dangerous fishing nets from oceans or funding the work of charities such as Marine Conservation Society and 2 Minute Foundation.
Where can you find me?
Want to chat?
George (at) coraleyewear (dot) com