The future of north-east sunglasses firm Cute Owl is so bright even little kids can now wear shades.
Owner Jennifer Gans-Bona (nee Wales) was inspired to create her company during the first lockdown after realising there was several barriers preventing young children from wearing sunglasses.
Cute Owl specialises in sunglasses for babies and young children. Its products combine near indestructible bendy frames with high spec UV400 polarised scratch resistant lenses.
Two different models, premium baby sunglasses and Cute Owl originals, cater for babies 6-24months and children ages 2-6 years respectively.
The baby sunglasses have a fixed strap to help keep them on, whilst the Cute Owl originals are more like traditional sunglasses and come with a removable strap.
Mrs Gans-Bona, a dentist for the past 14 years, found herself unable to work due to Covid-19 lockdowns and launched her business online in March this year.
She said: “Never in a million years did I think we were going to ever be unable to work. During the first lock down, like many parents, I found myself with no childcare and myself and my husband were juggling him working from home and me going to the surgery to man the phones on rotation.
It was at this point I thought, surely I could do better.”
Jennifer Gans-Bona, founder, Cute Owl
“It was difficult but equally a blessing as I got to spend so much more time with my then two-year old daughter Rachel.
“Over the Spring and Summer we would spend hours outside and I noticed I would always wear my sunglasses and she never did.
“I realised there are several barriers to getting young children to wear sunglasses. My two year old would often wear them for short spells before taking them off.
“When she takes them off, she invariably messes around with them, bending the legs or dropping them.
“They would get scratched and damaged and before I know it, they are discarded and forgotten. When looking online for sunglasses the offerings were really limited.
“It was at this point I thought, surely I could do better.”
Mrs Gans-Bona, mum to three-year-old Rachel and seven-month old Imogen, then started creating her own ideas.
She said: “I thought if I get indestructible frames and add good quality UV 400 polarised scratch resistant lenses, better design and colours, I could build a small boutique brand of babies’ and children’s sunglasses.
“I scoured the internet getting in touch with optical laboratories to see if they could make me samples of what I had in mind.
“After approving several rounds of samples I managed to create a product that solved all of my issues with children’s sunglasses.”
Mrs Gans-Bona, who has been on maternity leave since October last year, was helped by her sister Geraldine to come up with the logo and was very thankful for her help.
Cute Owl Sunglasses are now stocked in a number of north-east retailers including Strachan’s Inverurie, Daisytree Baby Boutique Alford and Rainbow Lane Montrose.
Mrs Gans-Bona hopes to keep expanding her range. She said: “Cute Owl Sunglasses was my response to diversify during the pandemic. I love being a dentist and I’m honoured to treat all my patients as I have done with the same practice for over 10 years. I have no plans to stop dentistry.
“I would love to see the brand grow and develop the range to include ages 7-12 and more colours.
“I’d also love to do a matching adults range called Wise Owl!
“Ultimately any development is underpinned by run one being well received and selling well.”
Mrs Gans-Bona has shown her support for the North East Now campaign, which has made it easy for people to support local firms from a wide range of industries during the pandemic.
“I love North-Eat Now! It’s a concise, one stop shop to find local businesses, new products and services,” Ms Gans-Bona said. ” It’s easy to navigate and find all the information you need.”
For further information on Cute Owl, visit www.cuteowlsunglasses.com
To find out more about North-East Now, visit www.northeastnow.scot
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