Viewpoint: Diary of a spectacle designer
Tom Davies does his best to focus on the positives in a month that has been ‘brutal’
Author: Tom Davies
When I came to work this morning, I saw the deadline for this article in my calendar and I have decided I don’t want to write this month’s edition. I just do not know where to start. When Optician editor Simon Jones asked me to become a regular columnist last year, he said it would be great for ‘the readers to
learn more about the product side from you’ and also ‘your insights on the retail side’ as I also have my own stores. ‘Keep it fun, light-hearted and informative,’ he said.
Well... fun and light hearted this month has not been. Informative? I’ve a brand to protect; I can’t go writing the deepest darkest secrets in this diary. I was supposed to be talking about what acetate is made from and how I go about designing specs.
I really shouldn’t be talking about these past four weeks at all. No one needs to know that I was supposed to export 10,000 frames around the world in June and that the actual number is made up of three digits. Nor should I be letting you know that I’ve been answering the phone on the customer service desk or sitting in on the production line because I’ve got gaps in my workforce that only 18 hour days can fill. It would not be a good idea to tell you about the legal battles I’m fighting around the world, and the last thing I should be talking about is the fact that furlough, although it saved my business, is like a narcotic. The company struggles to come off it and the staff, let’s be honest, can also struggle to come off it. No, it would not do to be discussing this in public.
It really, really wouldn’t be a good idea to mention the level of booze intake again. My wife has taken to placing the recycling bin slightly in the bush, away from the sight of the neighbours. No, this month has been brutal. These four months have been brutal and I’m not going to tell you any of those things.
I’m a positive soul and I should be writing about all the good things that are out there. If I’m going to mention my business in this column, at least for god’s sake put a positive spin on it, I’m telling myself. After all, some of the people reading this are my customers. I could tell you all about my British factory. That is a good idea. About how it is almost back to full production and we are shipping 6,000 frames to Canada for my new brand Catch London in a week’s time.
I could be talking about the new apprenticeships I’m planning as well as more manufacturing jobs in this country as the economy restarts. Do you want to know about renegotiating my rents? I could fill a page on that one if I hadn’t signed non-disclosure agreements. How about I fly the British flag? Literally, I’m going to film myself putting up a new Union Jack flag on my roof today and I could talk about the positive discoveries I’ve made with social media and how it’s changing my entire marketing strategy.
Perhaps I should spend my time talking about my retail stores in London and telling you about how in the first week back, against all the negative press I read about retail, they all performed better than the same period last year.
I could talk about my bespoke service. As I said, I’ve hardly sold a single stock frame to opticians but my bespoke business is at 80% pre-Covid, which is odd because half the world’s opticians are still closed. Before the end of this month, I’m going to be shipping lots of bespoke glasses.
This past four weeks has felt like 12 months. So even if I wanted to write this column this month, I just don’t know where to start or what to write about. Instead, let me just wish you all the best of luck rebooting your own business. I don’t know how to explain why but I think we are all going to be OK.