What originally inspired you to create Augie?
Lana Arnold: My Son was 4 years old when we were told he would need glasses to help straighten his right eye. I also wore glasses as a kid and although my mum made sure I had many pairs to choose from, it was the 80's so they we're all dead ugly, so I was determined to find some cool looking glasses for my son.
The first time I went shopping for him, I was quite surprised at the lack of choice, most of the frames I found we're either a poor fit or themed in the latest kids character. There seemed to be a massive gap in the market for kids glasses that were simple and stylish and I recognised this opportunity straight away.
A year later my daughter needed glasses too. Again as I went through the process of trying to find glasses that we're simple I realised other parents must be experiencing the same disappointment in choice and thought I can do this better. With my background in design I knew I had the skills to make this a reality.
Can you talk us through the journey from idea to Augie creation?
Lana Arnold: It has been quite a journey to get this from an idea to a living breathing brand, from initial design concepts to implementing an augmented reality try-on filter, there have been lots of hurdles to overcome along the way.
Initially when I started this I was fairly limited for time, like all Mums, there is only so much one can accomplish during kindy hours, on top of working and parenting. Overall the odds were against me to get this off the ground quickly, so when the opportunity arose for my husband to work on this with me we jumped at the chance to give this a go.
As parents of 2 kids in glasses we've been through this process first hand and understand that when you're told your child needs glasses it can be overwhelming and maybe even a little bit disappointing, so we knew we wanted to simplify the process giving parents more choice and grow into a trusted and informative platform.
Currently I think customers feel so locked-in to their optometrist and they don't realise they're allowed to shop around, often optometrists are not providing a copy of the script at the end of a consultation and there is no clarity around how much frames and lenses are going to cost, so it can be a shock when you're given a bill for $300+ just for lenses. We intended to make the process more transparent giving parents more freedom in choice.
What were the main challenges you faced and how have you simplified the process of buying glasses for mums and kids?
Lana Arnold: As an online business one of the biggest challenges we face is that our customers cannot try on our frames before buying. Initially we thought we would introduce a 'try at home' program but when we started to look at the environmental impact of this we thought there had to be a better option. We decided to implement augmented reality as a solution to this. After many months of working with developers to get the colour and finish right, we launched the #augiereality filter on Instagram and Facebook. We are very happy with it and are currently looking at some additional interactive features for the filters.
In relation to simplifying the process this has always been one of our key objectives as the traditional way of selecting, buying and waiting for your lenses is very old and dated. We have made the process easy with very few steps. We have also integrated some of the best customer service apps into the back end of the site so if anyone has any questions or at any stage we are there to help.
How large is the Augie range and how often to you add new designs?
Lana Arnold: We have 7 classic and modern styles available in 2 sizes. Each style has a minimum of 3 colours and we have gone for a blend of fun and classic colours. I've included lots of beautiful tortoise shells, blacks and clears which are classics and always in fashion. Then we have injected some really fun colours like pink glitter, raspberry and hues of blues and greens which will change seasonally.
What advice do you have for other mumtrepeneurs with an idea?
Lana Arnold: Through the process I kept reminding myself, if it was easy then someone else would have already done it!
It is important to do your research and understand the market, but also listen to your intuition, if you're developing a product that you need then its likely other people need it too.
What is a typical day like for you?
Lana Arnold: Life has changed for everyone recently, before Covid I was really enjoying an early morning pilates class 3-4 times per week, then coming home and getting the kids ready starting the day. Now that has all changed we have had to adapt to fit in homeschooling as well.
Our house has become the epicentre transforming into school, cafe, gym, park, office depending what time of day it is!
We've developed new routines to make it work, my husband and I alternate time we spend with the kids and making sure we've very organised is helping us manage the business and still keep happy children, but it's not a perfected system and definitely has its challenges!
What's next for you and Augie?
Lana Arnold: We have lots of exciting things on the horizon, we are constantly reviewing different areas of the business to try and find ways we can simplify the processes, provide greater educational content & essentially build trust.
We are working on a new education series where parents can Q&A with our in-house Optometrist which we believe our customers will love.
Also, Blue Light or Computer Glasses will most likely be the first new product development as the awareness around computer/device use and the potential effects on your eyes is growing.
I am currently looking at some beautiful acetate samples from Italy for some new colours to infuse into the range, so stay tuned for that!