Before becoming a designer, Sabine Bégault-Vagner worked as an optician in the family business in Orléans for many years, then she founded Sabine Be and her life changed completely...
From optician to Sabine Be. When and why did you decide on this life change?
I've always wanted to be a designer. It wasn't until many years after I became an optician that I learned that my father (also an optician) had thrown away the admission letter to a design school in Tours because he felt that the career of designer was an unprofitable, dead-end profession. Then I worked with my mum for over 25 years and eventually bought back the family shop. She passed away in 2009 and, after a long period of mourning, I realised that life was passing me by. This was a real shock, and I decided it was time to do what I had always wanted to do. I told my son and husband that I wanted to create my own line of eyewear and, to my surprise, they were both very encouraging
‘Be’ is both the beginning of your surname and a short verb with many meanings. What does it mean to you?
Be is, of course, the first two letters of my maiden name but, above all, it means ‘to be’, ‘to exist’ and, ultimately, ‘to be myself’! Be is also short, easy to remember, and understandable in almost all languages.
How has all this energy manifested itself in your new collection?
I have always been fascinated by colour and materials. I love being able to create unusual combinations and mix materials in the shapes I like best, such as clean lines combined with curved lines. For my latest creations, after the success of the ‘be addict’ design with the double inner rim, I created the ‘line’ collection with the same double rim but outside. As I love to combine colours, I create collages with acetate and the ‘confetti’ line started with the initial idea of a frame as if it were ‘cut’ into three pieces with crystal ‘confetti’. Other colour combinations were then grafted onto this idea. As a symbol of the brand identity, my glasses all have the round, red tip on the right temple and the square one on the left, together with round and square rivets.
What is your starting point, your inspiration, and your creative process?
I start with a concept and not with a design for a frame. I also start by designing the temples before the front of the frames. This is how the brand identity was born. One temple had a round tip and the other had a square tip, and these were later incorporated into my ‘Sabine Be..’ logo, the round followed by the square, an ellipsis suggesting the missing letters in Be?gault (my maiden name). Then I designed some custom-made cases, with spherical and cube-shaped clasps, chain necklaces, and displays featuring a round head and square ears and vice versa. I want my collection to be, first and foremost, colourful and joyful with simple, clean lines. I draw inspiration from many sources: travel, nature, architecture, design objects, hairstyles, etc. I don't set myself any limits, but I have come to realise that my collection is both structured and logical...
And it's not just about eyewear. You also project a certain lifestyle through your fashion, jewellery, and accessories. Who is your target audience and average customer?
Although it may be hard to believe, the target audience of my designs is truly intergenerational. They appeal to people with the most classic taste, as well as the more outrageous ones! Thanks to our incredibly wide colour palette, our designs can suit anyone, whatever their ethnicity, skin, hair, or eye colour.
In the difficult period we are all currently going through, have you adopted any different strategies, or introduced any new values or straplines?
This difficult period forced me to develop my social media presence even more, which I take care of personally. This has made it possible for me to keep in contact with my customers opticians, but also with final consumers, with whom I am very happy to interact. Following the pandemic, consumers expressed a strong desire for colour, as if they were trying to erase the memory of those grey days. So, from this point of view, I didn't really have to change anything.The fact that my glasses are made in France has always been my strongest selling point, and in the current crisis that has allowed me to respond to the changes in behaviour of my more responsible customers. My new straplines are actually hashtags! #bedifferent #iloveyourglasses #colorsoflife #handmadeinfrance
What are your ‘viaticum’ and challenge for the future?
My future is my present... It is important for me to be able to carry on turning the ideas in my head into designs. My main challenge is still just to be happy and, therefore, to make my customers happy... Today, I am really glad that I can bring a smile to the faces of my entire Be community.
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