5 years ago to this day, I first registered Prescription Eyewear Ltd, which is the company that trades as Glasses Direct. On our birthday I thought I’d jot down 10 personally memorable points along the way:
- June 2004 – Launched from my bedroom at University of the West of England and expanded into my parent’s house in Gloucestershire.
- August 2004 – Daily Telegraph runs feature on what we were up to, jump-starting public awareness in the business and beginning a history of media interest in the savings at GD compared with the high street.
- March 2005 – World’s first Virtual Mirror launched, named ‘customeyes’, which was immediately featured on Tonight with Trevor Macdonald and we continued to develop over the following years and can now be seen on our product pages.
- November 2005 – Picked up the UK Shell LiveWire Award with Deidre Walker (our first Finance Manager) and my proud Mother in the audience (almost the entire team at that point!). A great stamp of approval from a fantastic organisation and a real testament to the great work the team had done. The business went on to win a number of other business awards, but this one stands out as the first.
- November 2006 – Gordon Brown talks about Glasses Direct as a symbol of UK entrepreneurship success in Enterprise Week speech. We are often asked to contribute and work with researchers for speeches, degree programs, MBA’s, etc and it’s an honour for our business to be used as a role model.
- September 2007 – Oriental themed Glasses Party on the lawn outside our office barn, at Charlton Park to celebrate first VC investment received. I remember signing the final investment documentation with one of my longest standing angel investors and mentors, Ian McCallum on a picnic table outside the tent. The total we have now raised in the company stands at about £16m.
- September 2008 – Management team recruited, including Kevin Cornils ex- CEO buy.at, and MD EMEA match.com and Howard Bryant, ex-CFO of ecommerce success figleaves.com
- March 2009 – With over 35 different designer brands on the site, designer frames now account for a significant proportion of our sales. We started purely own-brand with ambitions to sell every frame a customer could want. Due to our established position in the optical industry and the quality of our team who work with them, this is now looking possible.
- May 2009 – Double whammy: A hugely upgraded Home Trials offering goes live, allowing you to select up to 4 pairs to demo, and have them delivered to your door in a box, before you buy them. AND we glaze our first pair of glasses in-house using robotic machinery from Weco, in Germany
- May 2009 – With over 250,000 pairs of glasses sold, GD continues to pioneer what Marketing Week recently described as etail 3.0 along with a tremendous peer group of other companies breaking new ground in ecommerce.
Apparently 8 out of every 10 businesses fail in the first 5 years – we have done well to beat the statistics but we know we still have a huge amount of growth ahead of us. The journey so far has been a complete thrill and tonight I will be drinking to/with the team that I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside. Long may it continue.
Posted on: May 27th, 2009 by Jamie
About 16 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever – an allergy to pollen or fungal spores which causes sneezing and a runny nose and eyes. Fun, it isn’t.
Hay fever season typically lasts from May to August, but if you’re determined to make the most of this summer, read on. Here are five simple ways to pull the plug on irritating pollen…
Wear wraparound sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.
“The close fit of wraparound sunglasses offers that crucial extra bit of protection for the eyes, forming an effective barrier between them and any pollen” says Glasses Direct’s Director of Product and registered Dispensing Optician, Phillip Meyer. A broad-rimmed hat makes a good back up.
Check out a range of sunglasses here at Glasses Direct.
Avoid going out early morning and at dusk.
There’s usually more pollen floating around at these times. Check out the pollen counts near you at bbc.co.uk/weather.
Keep windows and doors closed.
“Make a pollen-free atmosphere by closing windows and doors and sitting still for 30 minutes – pollen will fall from the air, giving some respite” says Professor Jean Emberlin of the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, University of Worcester in a recent Asthma & Allergies supplement in The Guardian.
Take regular showers.
To get rid of any pollen caught on your body and hair and reducing the risk of reaction.
Avoid places with high levels of air pollution.
It can make symptoms worse, say experts.
Posted on: May 26th, 2009 by Carole
Today we launched a fantastic new way of shopping using our Virtual Mirror tool. Now you can upload a photo of yourself and see which glasses look best on you whilst shopping the site. Or a little tip, try shopping as a celebrity, hours of fun. Scroll to the bottom of this post for my celeb pic.
This is a huge improvement on our previous Virtual Mirror tool. You now upload your photo once and it stays with you throughout your journey (previously the mirror was on a separate page) – much better for choosing your perfect glasses!
Top tips on using the Virtual Mirror
1. Arrive at a product page and you’ll see a box with the glasses on a person’s face:
2. By mousing over you get a list of options:
3. Click on it and you’ll see this:
4. You can pick another photo, upload a photo or even take a picture of yourself if you have a webcam. Here’s our David testing it out for you:
5. Adjust it if necessary:
6. Et voila! There you are on screen!
And if you get bored of looking at your own face whilst shopping, why not try being a celeb for a day! Today I am mostly being Angelina Jolie.
You won’t find every pair of glasses modelled just yet, it’s a pretty complex process because unlike other technology, with our Virtual Mirror you can see your head wearing glasses at different angles.
COMING SOON: We’re also launching our Video Mirror technology shortly, a great new way of seeing in real-time how you look in glasses!
Posted on: May 21st, 2009 by Carole
It’s vaguely sunny outside and rather windy, but nonetheless I’m bringing you my Sunglasses of the day number 4! These wayfarer-style bright glasses look great as prescription sunglasses and temptingly, we’re offering you £5 off this style for today only!
Posted on: May 18th, 2009 by Carole
Our job is to bring the cost of prescription glasses down and to help you enjoy your choice of glasses more.
We’ve gone one step further with a Free Glasses For Life prize draw.
Of all the people we’d love to enter the draw, here are a few of our favourite online personalities and bloggers – what do you say guys, will you enter our draw? We’re not saying your current ones are bad, we’d just love to see you in our Glasses Direct frames!
Top 10 glasses wearers we’d love to enter our draw…
1. Mike Butcher – Always seen out and about at the latest startup and tech business events in his stylish specs, if Mike won he’d never have to ‘invest’ in another pair of glasses again!
2. Stephen Fry – The cream of the Twitterati, Stephen might like a chance of winning some glasses to help him read the thousands of 140 characters messages he gets every day.
3. Hermione Way – Techfluff.tv wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for Hermione’s signature specs. Perhaps some Ray-Ban style specs will help her stand out when she’s looking for celebs to interview?
4. Jack Schofield – We’d like to ‘Ask Jack’ what glasses he would choose if he won a free pair of glasses for life. It’s a pity we can’t offer him a free smoking pipe for life!
5. Bill Thompson – While there haven’t been any glasses invented to see into the future (yet), no doubt Bill T will be the first person to get his hands on them when they do.
6. Biz Stone – Best known as one of the co-founders of micro-blogging service Twitter, this glasses-wearing entrepreneur also helped make Xanga, Blogger, Odeo, and Obvious. Biz is based in the USA but if he wanted a pair of glasses from us next time he’s in the UK we’d be able to help
7. Charlie Leadbeater – Author of ‘We-think’, Charles is a leading authority on innovation and creativity. Charlie’s got some really cool black glasses so maybe he’d be interested in trying some of our colourful styles.
8. Cory Doctorow – He’s a busy man: science fiction novelist, blogger, technology activist, co-editor of the popular blog Boing Boing (boingboing.net) amongst others. For such a busy man, our home trials service and online ordering are a must!
9. Andy McLoughlin – we could have chosen Andy or his co-founder Alistair but we love the work that Andy and his team at Huddle are doing around web innovation. They’re based in London so will want some of our most classy designer-style frames.
10. Dan Martin – The Editor of BusinessZone.co.uk, advice for small businesses in the UK. Dan seems to prefer the titanium style glasses so he might like to try one of our black, acetate ranges to see how he likes them.
Here are the details of the draw: up to 8 people will never pay for glasses again, we’ll give them new prescription glasses every year for the rest of their life. You can enter the prize draw at www.freeglassesforlife.co.uk
Posted on: May 14th, 2009 by Carole
O’ sunshine, where art thou? The sun might have gone again, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to show you another pair of specs that look great as prescription sunglasses.
Renowned for her classic sense of style, we were so sure that Audrey Hepburn would have loved these glasses, that we named them after her. You can find clear sunglasses everywhere this season and I reckon that these Audrey specs are that little bit different. A perfect pair if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Audrey comes in four different colours, blue, pink, brown and crystal. Add a grey or brown graduated sunglasses tint and you’ll get a classic pair of sun specs for under £35.
Posted on: May 12th, 2009 by Carole
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