How Toyshades Partners With British Athletes to Connect With People on a Human Level

Today we meet Ronan Kelly, General Manager of Toyshades British Sunglasses. In a country not exactly known for its sunny weather, you might think that launching a sunglasses brand could be a risky venture! But Toyshades are not afraid of risk and have full confidence in the quality of their product – sunglasses that are as good, if not better, than those in a far higher price range. How do Toyshades manage not just to survive, but thrive against the odds of geography and an incredibly competitive market? Let’s find out!

Hello! Perhaps you could introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Ronan Kelly. I’m the general manager of Toyshades British Sunglasses. British sunglasses might sound like the dumbest idea you ever heard given our British climate – but we’re doing ok so far.

Tell us more about your business.

Toyshades is run by an Englishman, an Irishman, and a Nigerian. That might sound like the start of a bad joke but we are deadly serious. We design and create British sunglasses that are as good as any of the world’s most expensive brands – but Toyshades are at a much more affordable price point. Toyshades British Sunglasses start at just £38, that’s just under $50. Nobody else offers a product as good as ours at a price point anywhere close to ours.

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What are you working on at the moment? What are the future plans?

Right now we’re entering into winter here in Europe. The winter sports season will start a little late this year so we’re focusing on people planning ski/board holidays at the start of 2021. We are always touched that so many world class winter athletes trust us to take care of their eyes. This year we are partnering with Dr Gary Bartlett and Emily Sarsfield of Team GB. We’re also renewing our partnership with Sanja Spasovska who is one of Europe’s most respected backcountry snowboarders.

In terms of Winter Sports, perhaps our most exciting development is that Maddy Smith  – British Skeleton Athlete – has designed a new addition to our range. Maddy is a world class athlete and uses only the very best equipment. Last year Madelaine joined our design team to create a new product specifically designed for winter sports.  The MADDY design is an amazing piece of engineering. It combines the latest production techniques and materials with Maddy’s unique experience to give us a product that is a show stopper.

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What are your biggest challenges? What motivates you?

Our biggest challenge is, as always, is to illustrate that our products are of the highest quality – even though we are at an amazingly affordable price point. Consumers need to realize that cost savings created by technological advancements over the last 15 years have not been passed on to eye wear consumers. All our sunglasses are made with our trademarked PENTOPTIC lens technology. This lens design is made with 5 layers of polycarbonate and is trademark protected worldwide.  These exclusive lenses beat all of the world’s toughest safety standards – UK, EU, US/CAN and Australian. Thanks to our PENTOPTIC lenses, we can ensure our customers get full UV400 protection.

What kind of marketing initiatives are the most effective for your business in terms of driving more sales?

We use a wide range of marketing initiatives – from the old fashioned email to the latest trends on social media. However, the most effective is always the most personal and the most human. Our partnerships with world class British Athletes have allowed us to connect with people on a human level and that’s very important.

Can you share what tools, apps, or other useful things you are using in your business?

We use STORYBEAT to add music to instagram stories. Putting a soundtrack to your brand’s imagery can really help you to make a connection with viewers.

What is the best business advice you can share with others?

Don’t wait. Do it.

Could you recommend any books, movies, podcasts, learning materials?

We have a quote from Hamlet on the wall in our little office in Croydon. It’s very fitting as the idea of British Sunglasses might be a crazy one. The Quote is “Though this be madness, yet there is method in it”. Maybe we ARE mad to create a brand of British Sunglasses – but there is method to our madness.

Toyshades British Sunglasses

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