June 26, 2018
\\ For him and her: Frame Chain designs in gold metal
Vanessa Harrington and Ann-Margret Kearney, Co-founders of Frame Chain
London’s accessory label Frame Chain offers a useful and beneficial concept to avoid losing glasses – but also inspires fashion practicality.
Annie Kearney and Vanessa Harrington share their success story on building an international business with their designs - as well as creating fashion and eyewear history.
Q: How did the Frame Chain concept evolve?
A: Losing so many glasses triggered the idea and we started to design together. Four years ago, we launched our own e-commerce business, and Frame Chain was also stocked in Liberty of London. We are actually quite practical - read picky - so each chain comes with two sets of loops so they can match your frames, and can easily be worn without frames as a chain.
Q: Tell us about your inspiration for the designs – and favourite materials in which you like to create.
A: We always start with the idea of jewellery. We work on a brass base and always with gold - 18k Yellow, Rose and White - the metal is hard enough to wear and give a luxe costume jewellery finish. Adding pearls, Swarovski crystals, Chain Mail etc. is an expression of our fun side. We are like magpies, picking up ideas in vintage markets, and things we fell in love with on trips to Marrakesh and Milan.
Q: How do you perceive your target customer and what demographics do you consider?
A: The easy answer is people who wear FRAMES! The chains are a beautiful version of something that practically keeps your frames safe – whether reading or sunglasses. Beyond the functional fashion side of things, there is also the customer who is really into the pure fashion trend idea. Naturally, there are regions like Spain, Portugal, Greece and Germany who get the trend straight away, and other regions that have really warmed up to it because of the fashion angle. So our customer is someone who wears frames and gets the idea of functional fashion.
Q: As an optical-related accessory, have there been challenges in selling to the major fashion stores?
A: Honestly, it has been the other way around! We started with fashion stores that were our primary target audience. We are now on MatchesFashion.com, in Liberty of London, Brown’s, Fenwick, and Selfridges is launching soon, and in a number of independent boutiques across the globe. Selling to opticians is more challenging. Frame Chain is a luxury product so there needs to be some education on how to sell it and to whom. With the rise of independent boutique opticians, they understand what we are about - 100%.
Q: As you are headquartered in different cities (Annie in Madrid and Vanessa in London) – how do you co-ordinate the creation and development of a collection?
A: In today’s world it doesn’t matter that we aren’t in the same place - I think it really adds to our collection as we have different sources of inspiration. We do have to be super organised and vigilant: we have three collections a year and clear deadlines on when we need concepts, samples and final collection plans. Generally we get together about every eight weeks in various different countries and spend two to three intensive days together or with retail partners. We set clear tasks, deadlines and responsibilities and get on with it!
\\ Modern and minimalist selections by Frame Chain // Elegant, hand strung freshwater pearls
Q: Social media and messaging apps play a large role in your success. Briefly describe your approach on how this originally developed - and has matured with your current marketing goals?
A: We communicate almost hourly on Whatsapp or Wechat with PRs, suppliers and each other. It is an incredible tool and avoids email clog up. Instagram is really the only channel we use - it is how we research influencers, stores and communicate or celebrate our mega customers. However, we get much more inspiration and results from real life conversations. Instagram is just an easy, relatively inexpensive tool to reach people – however, we would much rather have everyone round for cocktails! Our primary marketing goals right now are about developing the best possible product and finding the best possible partners.
Q: With your established Frame Chain success, are there other products you would like to design?
A: Of course! We are cooking at a few really surprising products. We will tell you all about it when we have finished them.
Q: As a fast-moving and successful British start-up with international clients, what suggestions do you have for entrepreneurs launching a business in the current economic climate?
A: Just make a start and don’t over think. Your business will evolve as it gets into the real world. No matter what you plan for, things will happen that you could never have imagined. Every big business has millions of small steps behind it before it really hits the fast lane. And most importantly - believe in yourself and above all else - trust your instincts.