Reality is often larger than the words used to describe it, as is the case with this project, with wood providing the living component upon which it’s based on. It has its own particular scent, it breathes and grows old with you, just like every living organism around us. Pericles Therrios and Eleni Vakontiou, realized this early during their creative process and looked to experience it from within. They sought to see the world through essence of wood. A special component that they fell in love with, so familiar yet so unique at the same time. They created Xylo Eyewear, the most interesting label of its kind to appear in some time.
How did Xylo Eyewear come about and how did you end up using wood as your primary component?
Wood is not something that is particularly new for us. We’ve been working with it for a number of years. Our interest in it began when we looked to build a fence for Babis, a stray griffon and the newest member of our family. The entire structure was made with a mitre box and a saw. In time, our need for wooden structures grew along with our appreciation for the many uses of this component. We built a workshop in our garage and spent all of our free time there. It was there that we came up with the idea of creating wooden eyewear. We took a piece of wood from an olive tree and began experimenting. After looking into the market, we discovered that a number of companies shared our idea, but we were already set on forging ahead.
What brought you together as a team? You do not share common backgrounds. How do your skill sets and particular tastes combine on this project?
Our meeting with a number of students from the Aegean University’s product and systems design department played a vital role. Nikos Athanasopoulos, Marios Geordamilis and Konstantina Gorgogianni, transformed our initial idea and design into a fully functional brand. This process required a particular type of knowledge and skills, which we did not possess.
What is the exact process that leads to the creation of Xylo eyewear?
Creating wooden eyewear, requires a lot of research and graft. We choose our wood very carefully, then proceed to cut the main part of the frame with a laser cutter. The wooden layers are then bound and molded together, thus giving them the required base curve. The rest of the frame then follows. In total, eleven separate manual processes are needed to get to the end product. The finish is a mixture of bee wax and virgin olive oil, a simple and natural combination that envelops the frame, giving it a reasonable amount of water proofing, a natural uniform shine, while also accentuating its natural colors. This mixture is provided in a 5ml aluminum container with every purchase, so as to assist in the maintenance of the eyewear.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
We live in the heart of the Aegean, we grew up next to the waves and with the sun accompanying our every step. These are the elements that we try and project through our brand. From the names of our glasses, to their designs and the images that they come with, we try and convey the feeling that rests inside us, about the land that we live in.
Motifs from Pirgi in Chios, images from the houses of Ermoupoli, fields bathed in light on the island of Syros and the bright blue color of the Aegean summer that binds us all. We also draw upon the essence of Sicily, as well as typography and writings from Mediterranean France, the Arabic world and South Spain.
The lines and forms that define our frames, remind us of the folds of the sea, the robust trunks of the pines, the flow of the sand on the golden beaches of the Mediterranean and the cool air of the summer nights.
You took a risk by attempting to fund your effort through indiegogo and not through a sponsor or loan. It is however a risk that seems to be paying dividends as the you are indeed finding the money to bring your project to light. How does that make you feel?
It is unfortunate that we live in an age in which someone who does not possess the required financial muscle, cannot support his entrepreneurial endeavors. As you can well understand, few would be interested in investing in a project such as this. Maybe even no one. We believe in the crowd funding concept. It seems to be a fair, unique and democratic way to raise funds within the existing financial business structure and that’s why we chose indiegogo.
We are delighted with the way the campaign has progressed so far, but we still have a long way to go. Our aim is to make Xylowear a healthy and sustainable enterprise, which will have the ability to assimilate the staff it requires and offer them employment opportunities. We believe that by creating a climate of synergy we can produce products of a particular high quality.
What are your dreams for the label? How do you intend to move forward from here on in?
Our first vital financial goal in order for this business to stand on its feet is to raise 15.000 euros. We have goals in place that target higher amounts as well, but one thing is certain. We know full well how and where to position our brand so as to assure that it achieves the progress it deserves. Our next goal would be to raise 25000 euros, in order to purchase production machinery needed to handle our main components, as well other tools needed throughout the production process. We also have further plans (concept stores, pop-up stores), which we will look at, should the campaign exceed our expected results
What is it about Xylo eyewear that makes them stand out in your opinion?
Well we design our products around people, so as to make them as comfortable and as distinctive as possible. I think we’ve achieved that in the way we’ve incorporated a base curve in the frame, making them a joy to wear. The arms are very flexible as well, so as to make sure that the product can fit itself around the face of our customer. We believe that our eyewear will be with each buyer for quite a long time.
With that in mind, our lenses our polarized, protecting the wearer from UVA and UVB rays, with an outer scratch resistant coating and an inner anti-reflective layer. We’ve also made it possible for the lenses to be interchangeable and replaceable.
Was there ever a moment which where you thought about abandoning the endeavor?
We came up against a number of obstacles, mostly of a financial nature. We required a substantial amount of money for the testing phase, which we did not have to start with. We were greatly assisted by friends and relatives, who really believed in our project.
Another significant problem was the fact that we didn’t have the necessary components for our initial trials and tests, so we really had to research our materials so as not to waste what few elements we had. This problem however forced us to learn more about our materials and the full use of their potential. But we never thought about quitting, every obstacle just made us want to achieve our goals even more.