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Interviews | April 10, 2018

Tavat – Roberta Baines

Tavat eyewear is more than a family business! Roberta Baines is an American with an Italian spirit and a precise idea of the world of eyewear. Here she shares her new vision for the future

words Giulia De Martin

Tavat is able to combine great tech details and an unique style. What do you think are the best ingredients for a successful product?

Our whole mission at Tavat is to combine form with function, where the elements lend themselves to the overall design. We aren’t sticking a logo on the side of the frame to identify our brand, but instead we tell our story with our constructions and our hinges. We strive to make a product that is identifiable from afar for being a ‘Tavat’ but this story is told through the design decisions we make. I think, most importantly any successful product must fit the wearer no matter how ‘cool’ it is. Everything we do, always comes back to this. The frame must be comfortable.

The eyewear market has changed a lot lately, how do you think this will affect opticians, consumers and brands?

I think we are in an interesting moment right now, almost in an tipping point, if you will. The market has been dominated over the last years by vertically integrated distribution, with the large companies not only owning the factories and the brands but also owning the stores. The result has been that the consumers have forgotten about quality and service but instead are driven by brand and price. I think people are beginning to wake up a bit and I really hope so! There is more information being shared than ever before and our jobs, for all of us, as a brand or even as an independent optical practitioner is to educate.

It’s an exciting time because more and more independent opticians are opening, after a period of so many closing down or being acquired.

There is a need for the one-to-one relationship between them and the consumer, and in turn, the consumer will continue to come back and tell their friends. For brands, this whole revelation reveals an opportunity in the market as the independents are looking for independent eyewear companies to help tell their story.

Do you think that the web and social media will play a part in this change?

Absolutely. If you’re a practice, everything is driven by consumer rating which is social media at it’s finest. If you’re an eyewear company, you use these tools to help communicate your story and your identity. In general, more people are doing their research before making purchase decisions and when providing a service, any service, you need to ensure that the people are having a positive experience.

Would you tell us something about Tavat’s new, coming collection?

We have a lot going on this year! This spring we focus on a capsule collection ‘Kafee Racer’ which is comprised of a frame designed by a student from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. We conducted a ‘Design Flash’ at the University a year ago and the winning student, Miguel Harry, won! He was the most successful at looking at Tavat as a company and designing a new collection that fits within our identity. The whole experience was incredible and inspiring. In the end, we introduced a young designer into our industry. It was his first time looking at eyewear… And he did a great job at designing our new collection!

Tavat has a long and successful story, how do you see the brand in the future though?

We will keep doing what we do. We will continue to be innovative and push the envelop. We will continue to work with our customers on a one-to-one basis. We will continue to build our team and approach new markets. We will listen and learn. We will become a bit more refined because we know a bit more what we’re doing now but we still have a lot to learn.

Tavat is a family business, have you always wanted to work in the world of eyewear?

Haha! I think I didn’t really have a choice! We are a family business but we are also an optical family that goes back a few generations. In the end though, I enjoy the industry and I enjoy learning more about the processes and developing product. I enjoy that I have the opportunity to build our brand  around the world and collaborate with some of the most amazing people.

What would you suggest to somebody who has just started to produce his/her frames and wants to stand out in the crowd of newcomers?

Have an identity and go for it, whether it be a technical story, a color story, or a design story. It’s important to believe in what you’re doing but be willing to adapt because it’s not always going to be right or easy.

What’s your motto?

I don’t really have one. Is that bad? When it comes to product and service though, it would have to be ‘it’s all in the details.’ A bit cliché, I know but it’s accurate.