Give me some context. How did you meet and why did you decide to set up Kimeze together? And please tell us a little about Kimeze itself?
We’re sisters! We founded Kimeze when we realised that eyewear companies were not designing glasses for black consumers, and by extension not designing glasses for us.
Kimeze is a company making handcrafted eyewear to better fit black and brown facial features. Most glasses are made for Caucasian features, and although there has been a fit for Asian features (now often called the “universal” fit) around since the 1980s and companies specifically making Asian-fit glasses, there have been no companies on the market specifically making frames for black people or lower wider bridges until now.
We founded Kimeze so that black and brown customers no longer have to compromise on the fit or the aesthetic to have really beautiful handcrafted eyewear that fits.
What does each of you bring to the company? Have you defined your roles?
I, Clare, am the CEO and Christina is the Creative Director. At the beginning though we both did everything.
Now that we have started trading, and we have other people involved roles have to be more clearly defined just to be efficient.
Christina also splits her time between her artistic practice in East London and the business so we have to be clear on what everyone’s responsibilities are.
How do you handle conflict?
We are sisters so we are used to the usual disagreements about trivial things but in the business over the past three years we have learnt to keep the discourse really professional when talking about business- related stuff, and try to have the same sort of respect for difference that we would when speaking to a colleague.
We both think it’s really important to maintain that level of mutual respect so that in a work context we can always view problems as something that we are working on collectively to solve, rather than a battle between the two of us.
What has been your biggest challenge as founders to date- since the original idea to setting up?
#founderlife! There have been so many it’s hard to pick one! Probably fundraising as it’s relentless, you meet some great (and not so great people) all with strong opinions on your business, and most of all it’s a distraction from the day to day and a lot of the time you just want to run away from it: but you can’t!
What worries, if any, do you have about your future as co-founders?
Again #founderlife… There are a lot of worries to keep us on our toes but specifically as co-founders not too much. We’ve each of us only got one sibling (each other) so I think we both have a mutual understanding that we’ve always got each others’ backs and best interests at heart.
What is the most joyful part about working together?
I think it’s when something goes well and we have someone else to celebrate with and truly enjoy that moment with. Few other people (other than our earliest employees, spouses etc) know how much hard work has gone into this, and each time we have a collective win it is a really amazing feeling and I think we both feel a lot of mutual pride.
What does the future hold for Kimeze and yourselves? What’s next?
Getting the word out so that more people know about our amazing frames and what we’re doing! We’re also bringing out some fantastic new styles for next season, and expanding our range of stockists. We launched very recently but already have two stockists in the UK and are about to announce two in North America.
What partnership do you really admire and why?
Barack and Michelle Obama: both independently successful, in wholly complementary and non-competitive ways, openly supportive of one another and such amazing role models. We could go on, they are just amazing, we love them.
And finally of all your Kimeze designs which is your personal favourite?
The Damba: It’s the perfect balance of classic finishing and showbiz glamour. The ideal pair of glasses for the festive period!
Christina designed it with Naomi Campbell in mind and it really is a stand-out piece.