"Look good while doing good"

Author: Clodagh Norton

Feature Story
December 05, 2019

Mai-britt Seaton

Launched as a sustainable eyewear brand 10 years ago, Monkeyglasses’ Mai-britt Seaton was one of the first eyewear company founders to pursue eco-friendly values and sustainable commitments as a core focus of the business and the production of its frames.

She spoke to 20/20 Europe on the launch of the Monkeyglasses flagship store in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Q: You have been in the eyewear business for 10 years. How have things changed regarding the focus on eco friendly designs and sustainability in 1/ Denmark and 2/ the eyewear business?

A: In Denmark, people have recognised the ecological issues and opportunities for better focus on sustainability for sometime. We have a lot going on in terms of initiatives to protect the planet and we are very aware of the need to act fast owing to our geographical location close to Greenland.
In eyewear, there is a growing interest in sustainable eyewear. Since I first started the business 10 years ago things have changed dramatically. I remember very well when I first started researching eco-friendly materials over 10 years ago that I got a very cold reception and little feedback or possibility to do what I was wanting initially.

Q: When you entered the market, what were your first steps as regard being an eco-friendly company?

A: We researched materials and manufacturers for sometime before launching in 2009. We wanted to produce something nice with fair pricing and an eco focus, and at that time making that a reality was not at all easy. We launched with a cotton acetate material which had an original wood look and uses 95% cotton flowers and wood pulp – biodegradable materials.
Since we first started we have also supported the work of the charity Save the Orangutan.

\\ New campaign (left) and model Star 45

Q: Now you are celebrating 10 years, and you are still introducing changes to become more eco focused. Tell me about those steps in 2019 and are there more to come in 2020?

A: Since 2016, all eyewear from Monkeyglasses has come in a foldable hardcover case made of reused paper – and of course fully recyclable. An exciting update we were able to make in spring 2019 is to add ecofriendly transport bags, also made from recycled paper, so that we are now completely plastic free in all our packaging. Is there more to come? Yes, we are never done optimizing!

Q: Do you feel that the focus on sustainability and eco friendly design has progressed more quickly in Scandinavia in eyewear and why?

A: Yes. We already have a culture that pays attention to ecological issues and that filters through to the consumer and their focus when buying new products. I would say that this has been the case for four or five years already in Scandinavia.
We have to be able to relate our story which is about working towards a low carbon footprint as well as using eco-friendly materials.

Q: What has been your company’s approach to your 10 year anniversary?

A: We are excited to have launched our flagship store in Northern Copenhagen in October. This is the first sustainable eyewear store in Denmark and represents an important step forward for us as a brand. I have created a store that is more like a fashion retailer in terms of the layout and concept, giving the consumer a more direct choice of eyewear and colours that are easy to view and pick out.

\\ The Monkeyglasses store in Copenhagen

Q: Tell us about the new campaign that you have launched for the Autumn/Winter.

A: Our campaign – Courage – is all about celebrating individuality, and features unique people who we feel are truly inspirational. The Monkeyglasses AW19 collection is an important and significant step as we reach our 10th anniversary: in a sense, we were wanting to embrace our own courage and slightly daring spirit in trying our best to lead the way through different commitments: the collection is a fresh reminder of our zero waste policy, the Monkeyglasses’ focus on recycled paper packaging and committed use of biodegradable cotton acetate and recycled steel for our frames.
In my view, having the courage to show who you are is scarce and special and this is the underlying theme of the campaign.
At Monkeyglasses, we believe that ‘the real heroes’ are those who are not afraid to be themselves – so we have dedicated the ‘anniversary’ collection to all those who have the inner strength to be who they are, and feel proud of their choices.

Q: Do you have other projects in the pipeline for 2020 that relate to your eco focus or your interest in the environment?

A: We will stay on track when it comes to sustainability – it’s our core. We will have new products to launch at OPTI in Munich, and we are working on expanding our sunglasses line with even more playfulness and colour.

\\ Eco-friendly packaging

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