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Positive footprint? We say Pala Eyewear.

Indeed, we can never be 100% sustainable with fashion but nothing prevent us from working towards a more responsible and environment friendly business, right?

Putting our planet and people before profit; meet Pala Eyewear – the ethical eyewear brand and one of our sponsors for C Kite Festival with Antoine Auriol.

Those who doesn’t know Pala, keep scrolling, you will love the thinking of this powerful brand and its founder: John Pritchard.

Please tell us about yourself, your life motto and objectives

I’m based in Brighton on the south coast of England, so very familiar in the sea – I must admit that the experience of a swim in the English Channel in winter is rather different from jumping in the waters around Mauritius! My life is dominated by my 13 year old daughter and work, but when I do have some time off I like to jump on my paddleboard and point out to sea. I love the solitude and calmness that you can get being far out and away from the crowds.

I have two mottos; ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ and ‘Carpe Diem’ (seize the day). I guess these two combined to kick-start Pala when you think about it!

My main objective is to grow Pala as a sustainable business, a ‘business for good’ that finds solutions to problems. It’s not just about eyewear, it’s about hearing stories two from those who are at the margins of climate change – the problems they see and the solutions they are working on. There is enough doom and gloom in the world, so ours is a message of hope for the future. I’d love to say I have more objectives, but to be honest the one I have is massive. Perhaps my other objective will be to actually kite surf a few metres while I’m at the festival!

What does Pala Eyewear represent to you and what are you hoping to achieve with this brand?

Pala believes in creating a sustainable future for the good of humanity and the planet. As a brand driven by purpose, we produce high quality, long-lasting eyewear that minimises impact on the planet and maximises positive social on people. Our mission is to ‘see the world better’ and our collection is designed for those who acknowledge the need for a better future, appreciate the world we live in, and embrace the adventure of exploring it.

Our vision was and still is to right the wrongs of the eyewear industry – positively and permanently; to challenge the mainstream, promote a sustainable future; put purpose into a product and give consumers a choice to buy a frame that goes beyond the physical product. A lot of our impact work is across Africa and that is where our main purpose lies and addressing the global inequality of access to eyecare. Helping to restore vision to people and the empowerment that comes with it. In conducting our business we tackle 9 of the 17 UN Sustainability Goals (SDG’s), so our impact and reach goes far beyond our core purpose.

Your favourite Pala Eyewear and why?

My favourite style is our Lich frame it’s a classic style with some subtle angles that keep it interesting. It’s our best seller year after year and my go to pair when I hit the road!

Tell us about your collaboration with Vision Aid Overseas & CARE4BASKET.

We unite our sales to grants we provide to Vision Aid Overseas. This funding goes towards the refurbishment of vision centres, dispensaries and screening programmes across Africa. This has totalled over $50,000 to date, benefiting more than 12,000 people through spectacles or corrective surgery. A pair of spectacles is widely accepted as one of the most cost-effective poverty alleviating tools you can provide someone.

With Africa having 73% more blind and visually impaired people than any other region in the world Pala focuses on where the problem is greatest.

Yes, we work with Ghanaian NGO CARE4Basket to make our cases. We work with 3 weaving communities in Bolgatanga that make our unique recycled sunglasses cases from recycled plastic waste. This includes over 35,000 single-use water sachets picked up from the ground and re-used for our case stripes. We pay the women more than 2.5x the minimum wage, to help them empower themselves out of poverty. Each case has a signed tag from the weave that made the case.

How sustainable are your glasses? Where do you source your raw materials for your products?

We use the very best Italian bio-acetate material. This 64% plant-based and biodegradable. For our non-polarised frames we use more eco-friendly lenses made from 39% castor bean. We also produce in small batches, avoiding issues around overstock and taking a more sustainable approach to the industry in this way.

In your opinion, why should consumers buy sustainable products, sustainable eyewear?

The clear answer is that it is better for planet and people. As a producer ourselves we are always going to have a negative impact on the planet, so it is up to us to be as responsible as possible to minimise that impact. In using more renewable or recycled materials in our product and packaging that ensures we tread as lightly as possible. We must be mindful of the waste we produce too, which is why we only produce frames based on demand. This contrasts to the fast fashion route which is all about producing large volumes of product at cheap prices, a fair amount of which will end up unsold and incinerated or eventually in landfill. You also have to look very closely at the supply chain and treatment of workers. When clothes seem far too cheap to buy, then in all likelihood there are humans down that supply chain who are being well below a fair wage.

My mantra is to buy better and buy less. Sustainable fashion is more expensive, but often sources far better materials and made to last. You are better off buying one good t-shirt that will last you 10 years rather 10 t-shirts that last you one year.

How do you feel about your collaboration with C Mauritius? What are you hoping to achieve with this collab?

I’m really excited for Pala to be working with C Mauritius. Very few eyewear companies can work in small batches as we can do and the fact that we are able to do so opened up this opportunity. The frame we have supplied is a new unisex style and works well on pretty much every face so I’m going to be excited to see people wearing them around the resort. I’ll be hiding in the bushes taking pictures of people wearing them as they walk by!

I love the fact that the C Mauritius strapline is ‘Nature’s playground’, putting the planet at the very heart of our enjoyment. In doing so, we as people will hopefully recognise what it gives, value and look after it to pass on to the next generation. I also note the efforts of C Mauritius in promoting the responsible and sustainable operation of their resort, and I’m delighted that we are a small part of that journey.

Tell us about Pala Eyewear being a B Corp? What does it entail?

Joining the B Corp community was an important step in Pala’s evolution. In short it means that legally as a company, Pala commit for the benefit of our employees and business operations, to have a materially positive impact on society and the environment taken as a whole. As a business the focus is on giving goodness to all of society, not just giving profits to shareholders. It’s a long and tough process to become certified and takes more than a year, but we’re delighted to be part of the community.

What’s next?

I terms of our sunglasses, the collaboration space is a fast growing one for us, so that is something I want to focus more on.
We are also launching optical and blue light lenses later this year which will open us up to a new customer base. The main goal from a giving point of view is a campaign we have just launched this month to refurbish and equip and vision centre in Sierra Leone, a country with just 5 optometrists for almost 8 million people. That gives you an indication of the size of the problem!

Fascinating, right?
 Find out about Pala & John Pritchard movements here:

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