I have always been conventional, especially when it comes to business. Much to my kids’ amusement (and frustration), I have a tendency to vehemently snub technological advancement in all its glorious forms, opting instead for a hands-on and in-person approach to everything I do.
Take emailing, for example. I have always considered it to be completely useless when it comes to conveying my voice, personality and energy to clients. Instead, I pride myself in fostering personal business relationships with European and American boutiques, by showing up in person and shaking hands the traditional way!
For me, personal touch is everything. It has been at the very heart of Laura Imami Eyewear since we opened our doors 7 years ago.
After all, nothing quite compares to feeling that indescribable buzz at Schuller Opticians each time my new collections hit the shelves, or watching my clients’ reactions when they see and feel the frames in person. And, what could possibly beat the excitement of flying to Italy to oversee the artisans who hand-make my designs? Other than debating materials and shapes (in true Venetian style) over a glass of dry Chianti, of course!
When COVID-19 struck, everything changed overnight! I had to invent new ways of showing my eyewear and quickly adapt to a totally different way of doing business. At first, of course, I was reluctant to change my work style. I was not keen on getting Zoom fatigue. I was even less keen on selling my eyewear online, which I found impersonal.
But, it was out of my control – and as we all know, 2020 has taught us the importance of evolving and adapting, whether we welcomed the lesson or not.
The most difficult part of working online has probably been trying to show the intricacies of the frames to new clients over Zoom calls! I have always taken great pride in the high quality, meticulous crafting that goes into my handmade eyewear, and prior to COVID-19, the luxury finishes would easily come across to clients who could hold the frames in their hands and examine them closely in person. But now, it is more difficult to clearly show details like the graduated tint of the lenses, or the way the square and rectangle shaped frames are hand-carved and polished. Even conveying the beautiful blues and greens, from my latest collection, in their true vibrancy has been tricky. But given eyewear exhibitions in Milan, Paris and New York have been cancelled this year, and countries all over the world have gone into lockdown, there is simply no other way of showing my collections at the moment, and this new way of working is something we have all had to get used to.
I have to say – there have also been some unexpected positives about adapting to this new world we find ourselves in. Despite my initial reluctance, I have found it exciting and thrilling to launch the online store for Laura Imami Eyewear and to interact with opticians from all around the world. It has meant that business is doing as well as ever, and it has opened the doors for my designs to be enjoyed in places as far away as Australia! I also have to admit that I am quite enjoying wearing pyjamas from the waist down (I know you are all doing it too), whilst jumping from one timezone to the next on Zoom meetings!
However, I am also hungry for human contact and crying out for a return to normalcy! Just the other day, I was walking in the park and a jogger asked me for the time as he stopped to catch his breath. I struck up a conversation about the impact Covid has had on our lives and he explained how he too has had to adapt to a completely new way of working (although in the banking industry). I think I realized just how much I am missing human contact and conversation as, hilariously, I kept him talking for a full hour…
One thing’s for sure..I feel sorry for the next person who asks me for anything on the street!