Asha Zomer: House of Asha Zomer Eyewear
Clarity, creative flair and a 20/20 vision for your venture are just a few of the crucial elements to succeed as a small business. So when eyewear designer Asha Zomer released her personal line of shades, she put a refined set of lenses on the future of her company (h)AZE.
House of Asha Zomer Eyewear is the name behind the acronym, and features a collection of glasses that pay homage to retro styles and classic frame shapes with a contemporary twist, reflecting the personal place the company bore from. Combining ‘old school’ production methods with Millennial marketing tactics, Asha reflects on the homegrown insights into the optical and fashion industries she received, provided by a childhood spent immersed in the optical industry, while also fostering an unteachable, true creative spirit.
From designing glasses in her mother’s dining room in 2011 to distributing shades across the country, we spoke to Asha Zomer of (h)AZE to get a clearer picture of small business success.
Raised by an optical technician father and patternmaker and fashion designer mother, in her formative years Asha learnt the fine intricacies of optical frame construction, working in the family business from a young age. With a wealth of experience, Asha was determined to follow in the footsteps of her parents optical importation and distribution company in her own way,
“The next step was to throw my hand at some designing and see what happens”
(h)AZE was born from Zomer’s desire to explore the two industries which had a profound impact on her life; optical and fashion.
Developing the product through 2010 and 2011, Zomer sought out manufacturers and raw materials that would suit the unique designs for the label. Taking the year to finalise her first collection, (h)AZE officially launched eight iconic models in 2012.
Connections in the optical industry played a pivotal role in the development of her product, as Zomer highlights;
“I was lucky enough that my parents had been in the business for well over 10 years and had already developed strong relationships with manufacturers. I was able to seize those opportunities and have a slight foot in the door.”
Designed solely by Asha and her mother, the almost ritualistic design process oversaw the two women regularly sketch shapes and designs and fit paper moulds to their face to test the thickness and shape practicality, adjusting the glasses accordingly. With a slew of colours available in the neo-retro shades, Zomer targeted a niche gap in Australia’s fashionable eyewear market, combining eclectic style with the practical demands of summer.
“Our mission has always been to bring fun eyewear to the Australian market that was well made and durable for our long, hot summers.”
With a comparably smaller market to overseas, Australia’s eyewear community was a territory well known to Zomer, having worked with optometrists and optical dispensers in the past. This background, Zomer highlights, was crucial when negotiating which clientele would be suited to (h)AZE and leveraging a previously established rapport. Distributing her glasses across 23 in-store stockists across Australia and her personal online store, Zomer recalls, “the fashion side of distribution was a bit more difficult. We did a lot of cold-calling, relied on word of mouth recommendations and social media promotions to gain stockists”
As a Melbourne based designer, Zomer completes interstate trips every three to four months to maintain stockists and highlights due to the physical nature of the product,
“We find in store sales are most effective. People usually like to try on eyewear before they buy it because of so many variables – face shape, colours, size of the frames, temple lengths... and so on.”
With a ‘strong vintage feel’, Asha highlights each pair of glasses are fastened with a modern touch to appeal to the current market. Using Italian Mazzucchelli acetate, a highly regarded manufacturer of the plastic like frames, new colours and tones are featured each season, along with hypo-allergenic metal frames, fitted with stainless steel hinges.
“I felt that, at the time, there was a huge gap missing in the optical market. There were no high quality, fashion forward, edgy labels and I wanted to explore and create this for the Australian market.”
In a saturated market, Asha attributes creative branding and a seamless social media presence as the force that pushes them to edge the company through the market. Bound by an image that rejects everyday, normal eyewear campaigns, and teaming up with brilliant photographers, the presence (h)AZE encompasses is clearly one of style, eccentricity and a razor sharp clarity.
Five years on, the models released for the first collection of (h)AZE are still among the company’s best sellers. With plans to open a pop-up store and take the brand to the next level, Asha Zomer manifests a quaint brilliance in combining family tradition, with unparalleled innovation.
“I’d say we hit some International trade shows and get House of Asha Zomer Eyewear into the International eyewear market!”