Tell us about you and The Eye Company . . .
The Eye Company was first established in 1994 and moved to Soho in 1997. I started as manager in 1999, and became an owner shortly after. Although I was passionate about the existing business, I wanted to take it in a new direction – a direction that has been exceptionally well received. Spectacles are more fashionable than they’ve ever been, and the basis of our service is providing the best ones. We only stock optician designed frames – no fashion brands, unless exceptional.
You are now recognised as one of London’s leading eyewear specialists. You’ve been described as having great attention to detail, and a natural eye for aesthetic balance and style . . .
Thank you. Yes, these things are very important, and I am passionate about them. We are fanatical about quality and finish, and demand the very highest attention to detail from our carefully selected suppliers. We also believe in having a complete respect for honesty and integrity in the way business is done. And we believe in service. It’s a combination of all these elements that has allowed the store to move from strength to strength.
You have an extensive knowledge of the history of spectacles – from scientific optics to styling – and you have been referred to as a spectacle historian . . .
Yes, I now have more than thirty years’ experience in every aspect of the optical industry, including a comprehensive experience of lens manufacturing. It’s an invaluable experience . . . I could not have started our own Bertie Hudson range without it.
Where does the Bertie Hudson name come from?
Bertie Hudson was the name of my late father. The range comprises of classic eyewear looks and styles. It started as a response to requests from clients for rare eyewear.
You designed them?
Some are copies of iconic designs, some are my designs. They are often modern versions of vintage frames. They’re all handmade. We love them. We learnt very quickly that if our glasses didn’t excite us, they wouldn’t excite our customers.
You are often consulted about eyewear for film and TV. Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace, London Boulevard, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy . . .
Yes, for film, TV, theatre . . . We give advice, or provide eyewear. Fashion stylists use us a lot. So do publishers . . . and the music industry. The location of our store makes it very convenient for artists and media professionals to call in for fittings. At the moment I’m helping on a TV docufilm about the history of eyewear, in which I myself get to be onscreen, as a presenter. It’s going to be a fascinating programme, and it’s fun to
What do you like doing best?
I am at my very happiest when I am in the store daily and working, hands on, with my clients. They want something different. They want elegance, they want style, but they also want something real – real service, real integrity of service. Eighty-five per cent – at least – of our new business comes from recommendation of our existing clients. We’re doing something very right. Our customers don’t go and tell others to come to us – their friends, family, colleagues – unless they’re pleased with what we’ve done. Other than the Eye Company and Bertie Hudson, what I like best is my dog, Maisy, and enjoying fine vintage cars . . .
We’re an independent. I far prefer to have one specialist store than a diluted chain. We will continue to provide excellence of service. It’s what our customers like best. It’s what I like best.