When it comes to getting our sunglasses out there, we are proud to be stocked in some incredible brick and mortar stores across the world. The teams behind these independent stockists are nothing short of miraculous, setting out to promote positive fashion and eye-care, sourcing ethical and sustainable brands of all shapes and sizes and championing them to their customer. Here at Pala we value them as partners, and reckon they deserve some hard earned praise.
We thought it was about time we take you with us to meet a few faces from behind the scenes, first up being ethical opticians, Uvée. Based out in Montreal, Canada (group trip there, anyone?) the team included optometrists, Olivier, Alex-Anne and Steven, along with optician, Céline, and advisor, Isabella, believe that eye tests shouldn’t be a chore. And it doesn’t stop there. Their neighbourhood focussed clinic stocks a range of local, ecological or ethical frames (including our very own prescription ready glasses), integrating sustainable values and environmental issues. Their priorities? Healthy eyes and a protected planet.
We reckon you might already be sold, but read on to get to know what makes the team tick!
How did your journey with Uvée start?
It started about a year ago. I was about to buy a well-established optometry clinic, but somehow, I wasn’t convinced that it was the right move to make. I wanted to change almost everything of this existing clinic. At the same moment, Alex-Anne and Steven came with a different project of starting a clinic from scratch and it became automatically a project far more interesting and about sustainability.
What makes Uvée different?
Uvée is a sustainable optometry clinic. We offer eye exams with a focus on ocular health, but also glasses that are mostly made of bio-acetate, recycled acetate or recycled stainless steel. With the help of Bausch & Lomb, we also recycle contact lenses. Moreover, all the patient files are on the cloud to use as little paper as possible. Hopefully one day we can be carbon-neutral and paperless.
Tell us about your local neighbourhood.
It’s just the perfect neighbourhood. We are located on a small street in the heart of the Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal. The street is filled with small shops and cozy restaurants with a rich local vibe. Most of all, our clients are amazing! Everyone is so nice and friendly and we couldn’t be in a better spot. Seriously.
Do you have any daily rituals at work?
Not yet. We are still in the hype of the beginning and there’s no routine established for now. It’s something that we might want to incorporate at some point. However, the thing we did from the beginning is considering our employees as if they were our business partners. We want them to feel empowered to make altering decision in where the business is going and this is definitely something that makes Uvée better.
Who inspires your decision-making?
That’s a good question! I guess the owners of the clinics where we worked beforehand inspired us, but wanting to do things differently forced us to make our own decisions. Now, we get inspired by each other and by other local businesses. Also our optician Celine, who has many years of experience in running an optical store, is an endless source of knowledge for us. We have a lot of trust in her advice.
As doctors in optometry, we believe mostly in science, medicine and nature. We absolutely need to be in touch with nature to keep going. It is so powerful and vast that it helps us feel like we’re a tiny part of something bigger. We love to get away from the city during the weekends to free our minds and to be able to come back strong.
Do you think ethical fashion is important?
We believe that ethical fashion is what fashion should be all about. Now is the time to change our habits. Every purchase we make should be considered as a vote and that’s why we need to be more aware of what we buy and why we buy it.
What has been your best travel experience to date?
We love to travel!! One of the best trips we did together was our humanitarian trip to Ecuador back in 2016. We did eye exams for people in need, gave them glasses and treated ocular diseases. Of course, after work, we had the chance to explore the gorgeous Galápagos Islands. Being able to witness such a rich ecosystem was simply amazing. Alex-Anne and Steven are going on another humanitarian mission in Tanzania this coming November with Doctors Without Borders and are so excited about it!
And if you had to pick one other city to live in, where would it be?
Sustainability being a huge part of who we are, I guess it would be in an European city like Stockholm, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. These cities tend to take into consideration the environment in their decision-making and in their everyday lives.
Tell us about the best decision you have made.
One of the best decisions we made was also the most difficult one. We decided to build our eye exam room right in the centre of the clinic and we decided to have two walls of glass so the other customers can see us performing our eye exams. It is so different from all of the existing clinics that it was scary to go through with it. Now, it feels great to see the sun and the customers are amazed by the design of our clinic.
What is the most valuable advice you have ever received?
“Don’t hesitate to do things your way.” Sometimes we limit ourselves to do things because it’s usually how it’s made, but if you want to succeed, you need to be different and take some risks.
If you could lend one book you have read to us, what would it be?
The last book I read that I felt really connected to was “Le Plongeur” which is a book written by Stéphane Larue, a Canadian author. It is an incredibly well-written book that brings you inside the world of bars, restaurants and gambling. It’s really interesting, and it’s in French! Also, a book I really appreciated was “Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X and the Quest for a Fantastic Future”. It’s crazy how an idea can sometimes grow to something really influential if you put time and effort into it.
One of the next trips my wife and I will do is a trip to Mongolia. She has been excited about this place for a couple of years now and I’m totally getting hyped for it too. It feels like going there you can live in symbiosis with nature and experience the best of it. Another place my partners and I would like to visit one day is Singapore. Every friend of ours that has been there tells us we would love it. It seems futuristic while respecting the environment and the food looks amazing!
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Felicia is our ‘camera ninja’ when it comes to photography for the Pala website. Hailing from Sweden, but now based close to the Pala Brighton HQ. When she’s not exercising her skills of mind control to make models relax on shoots you’ll find her in a cafe enjoying a good cup of coffee, or at home baking cinnamon buns.
Emma is our marketing guru. When Emma isn’t planning, strategizing and creating content, she can be found travelling the world exploring its wonders, or in more recent times – headphones on with a paintbrush in her hand creating an abstract masterpiece!
Mary is the team leader of the Care4basket project in Bolgatanga, Ghana. When Mary is not organising and supporting the work across the communities, you will find her sowing sweet potatoes, ground nut, millet and looking after the animals on the farm.
Izzy is our Sales and Comms mastermind. When Izzy isn’t throwing herself down a mountain on a snowboard, she can normally be found rummaging through vintage shops or pounding the fields with her beloved puppy, Mac. She once mislaid a finger on a night out (eek!) – girl knows how to party!
Justin is our ‘Film Alchemist’. When he’s not laying on the floor looking for the next shot he’s either exploring the finest bourbons and listening to obscure country music tracks from the 50s and 60s. Normally found planning his next trip abroad or fuelling the pineapple on pizza debate. Just so you know he’s firmly in the Hawaiian camp!