Showcase: The Bailey Nelson Difference
I first found out about Bailey Nelson through my friend Georgia, who always has her finger on the pulse of what's trendy and good, and she mentioned I needed to check out the frames from BN asap. Being a bit of a sunglasses collector/hoarder, I'm always in search for new frames to add to my rotation and to be fair to myself, I'm always wearing them so they're totally justifiable purchases.
Bailey Nelson isn't just another store that sells frames. They came from humble beginnings with a real purpose to flip the business model on what is a heavily monopolised industry. A little-known fact shared with me by the BN team is that one Italian giant owns the majority of the popular sunglasses and designer brands you're probably wearing, control multiple distribution channels and even own eyewear insurance companies. That's one of the reasons why eyewear has been historically ridiculously expensive, they've controlled and dominated the marketplace for eyewear.
Bailey Nelson, was founded in hip Bondi Beach, Sydney, only a few years ago in 2012, by a couple of mates who started selling some frames they sourced overseas at the local Bondi markets. The style, quality and affordability quickly got people's attention. Skip a few years and Bailey Nelson are now selling frames in over 25 boutiques across Australia and New Zealand and they're continuing to grow with openings in Canada and the UK. This rapid growth speaks volumes to how their drive to change the industry for the better is paying off.
It's the result of a fresh thinking approach to business, where BN have greater control over the entire journey. From designing the frames themselves, streamlining the entire development and production process (read more on how they do this here) and by cutting out unnecessary supply and retail chains, all help improve cost efficiencies. And this new way of working is resonating with people, like you and me, who desire a great pair of sunglasses or prescriptions, demand quality without compromise and don't want to spend our entire week's paycheck for it.
Being a shore boy, Takapuna is my local Bailey Nelson boutique and it's nestled in along the vibrant Hurstmere Road, right by the beach. As you'll see from the imagery, they've found inspiration from their environment and made it beach like, complete with a surfboard, hanging ropes, seashells, beach colours others nods to the beach theme. And it's the same for all of their stores, they reflect the micro-culture of their location.
It's a warm and welcoming experience in-store and you're in good hands as soon as you walk in. I met up with Maddy, the NZ Business Coach, who worked with me to find frames that were perfectly fit for both my eyes and face shape. It's a very personalised experience and not simply a process of 'oh those look cool on you' either. There's a science behind making sure you are matched with the perfect pair of frames (this ain't no Tinder!). From the design and shape of the frame, the right lens, and the frame fit these all help to guide you towards the frame that'll complement your face.
Something I hadn't done in yonks was an eye exam with an expert optometrist. At BN you can easily book an in-store appointment online, and better yet it's free, and is every two years for their customers. Completing this exam gave me a clue into how my two eyes are holding up and the news is good, I've got 20/20 vision, but my left eye is a little weaker than the right which I've known for some time now.
We then moved on to complete a Pupillary Distance measurement. This is where basically the distance between the centre of both pupils is measured to ensure the lens will be positioned perfectly in your new frames for you. Once you've got your hands on a pair (or more) frames that you'd like to walk away with, you'll also do a Frame Fitting, which is a custom fit to ensure the glasses are not sliding down your nose every 2 minutes. Hands up who has this issue with many of their sunglasses!
For BN the intimate customer experience is as crucial and important as the build of their frames and lenses and I felt very supported the whole way through and came away more knowledgeable about their product. One pivotal fact I learned was just how important polarised frames are, and typically companies charge you more to have polarised lens, but not with BN, all of their sunglasses and clip-ons for prescriptions are polarised.
I tried on stacks of frames and had an excellent time doing so - can you tell? With so many styles, colours and even lens options I could have walked away with at least 8 or so new pairs of frames. But I've got to show some restraint, even though the price points are surprisingly good and appealing. Sunglasses start at just $155, all with polarised lenses and the option to upgrade to prescription polarised lenses too. And the spectacles begin at $155 also, including the frame, single vision prescription lenses and the anti-reflective coating. Surprised at how affordable it is with BN? I was too! It really just shows you how much we've become complacent with paying a fortune for eyewear when it's purely just for a branded label printed on the side of the frames.
Now the real test is to hit the street showing off my new found selection of frames and the result - my Bailey Nelson lookbook - will be up on the blog shortly, so be sure to look out for it when it goes live. In the meantime, check out your local Bailey Nelson boutique across the North and South Islands and see for yourself why this business is here to make eyewear better and more accessible to us all.
Massive thanks to the Bailey Nelson team (especially JC & Maddy) for the collaboration. All words, opinions and creative direction are my own.
Shout out to Tori Hayley for the incredible photography.