As we head into 2024 Westport-based LOOK OPTIC Founder Andrew Leary understands that the most impactful accessory is eyewear, as shown in their latest collaboration with the ultimate tastemaker, muse and supermodel Carolyn Murphy.
photography by antonella macri
stylist christina ellegaard // hair by aleksandra sasha // make up by alice lane
Samantha Yanks: Andrew, I have adored the mission and ethos of LOOK OPTIC since the moment I discovered the brand. You always have powerful muses and collaborators. Tell us a bit about how the partnership with Carolyn Murphy came about?
Andrew Leary: My wife, Christina, is our creative director. Last year, after shooting Venus Williams in Palm Beach, she mentioned that Carolyn Murphy would be the perfect partner, as fashion and sustainability are key pillars of our brand. We had met Carolyn through mutual friends before, so I thought I would reach out. The next day, her agent sent me a photo of her and Carolyn in the back seat of a car wearing LOOK OPTIC glasses. I guess it was meant to be.
SY: Coming from a family of tennis players, I have followed the Williams sisters closely. How did your recent Muse collaboration with LOOK OPTIC and EleVen by Venus Williams come about?
AL: Venus was introduced to the brand through a mutual friend. Subsequently, she posted our “LIAM” aviators on her website as one of “V’s Favorites;” from there, we approached her team about a potential collaboration. She was amazing to work with and has been super supportive of LOOK. And I was even invited to play tennis with her and her sister after our photo shoot in Palm Beach.
SY: Can I ask a serious question: I have a three-year-old Labrador Retriever and he has a weakness for stealing and destroying my Birkenstocks and glasses. The “my dog just ate my glasses,” story. Does this happen a lot?
AL: All the time. Our dogs like shoes as well. We actually offer a discount (one-time) when this happens. We also encourage people to send us their old frames to be recycled. We have partnerships with TeraCycle on how to help recycle hard-to-recycle products like glasses. The Lions Club also helps redistribute frames that are still usable to those in need.
SY: What inspired you to launch LOOK OPTIC?
AL: I paid $600 for my first pair of prescription glasses only to find out a few months later that I really just needed readers. However, the selection and quality were so poor that I saw an opportunity to create.
LOOK OPTIC. Although, since I had a full-time job, LOOK was a side hustle for the first few years.
SY: LOOK OPTIC has a range of eyewear. Walk us through your focus, from readers to progressives, bluelight to sunglasses.
AL: The progression was essentially led by consumer demand. We started with readers and quickly realized how many people were wearing sunglasses over their readers. Not a great look. In fact, there is a great photo of Brad Pitt in his car doing just this—admittedly a much better look for him. Then came the pandemic, and everyone was on their computers, so customers started requesting blue light lenses. If you haven’t tried them, they are a game changer, even just for eye strain. And then earlier this year, we released progressives to solve the biggest problem faced by our reader customers—always having to take them on and off and, as a result, losing them. I frequently joke about spending most of my childhood looking for my mom’s glasses, only to find them on the top of her head. Progressives now make up almost 50% of all sales, and customers love that they can leave them all day.
SY: I always love to discover the stories of brands like LOOK OPTIC that are rooted locally in our community. You and your family live here. Why Westport? And how is it being a global executive from our town?
AL: Our office is in Westport, but our family lives in Weston. When we first moved here, I worked for the world’s largest market research firm and traveled 200 days a year. Having moved from LA, travel was much more manageable. However, our kids hated moving from the city “into the woods.” Today, you could not convince any of us, myself included, to move back to LA.
SY: You photographed the images with Carolyn locally. Can you tell us a bit about how you chose the location and how you were able to weave the designer’s jewelry into the shoot?
AL: We were initially going to shoot Carolyn’s new frame in LA. However, as she was going to be on the East Coast, we thought it would be great to find a location nearby. So, I called my good friend and investor, Wende Cohen from Bungalow Decor, for suggestions. She immediately said, “I know the perfect place,” The next day, I was in Southport meeting Lee Baldwin. Not only did she have the perfect house for the shoot on the beach, but also the most beautiful jewelry. In fact, you can see her rings and necklaces in several of our images from this collaboration with Carolyn. Thanks, Lee!
“Carolyn Murphy shares our passion for sustainability, and I hope that she will further influence others to make a change. We have
a long way to go when it comes to prioritizing our planet, but together, one step
at a time, we can make a difference.”
LOOK OPTIC Founder
SY: From local outreach to your social media channels, LOOK OPTIC does an impressive job of creating an online community. How have you found success on that front?
AL: I ran a youth marketing company early in my career, making Time Magazine’s “Ten Most Innovative Companies” list based on our peer-to-peer (word-of-mouth) marketing approach. So, I have always understood the power of building communities and how important authenticity is to a brand. This authenticity has attracted many of the women who create content for us today and those who help spread the word across all of our digital channels.
SY: Your tagline is compelling: “FEAR NOT THE FINE PRINT.” Can you elaborate a bit on this?
AL: When my vision started to change, it was my first sign of aging. I remember thinking, wow, I might not live forever. And it was a huge adjustment. Our tagline, FEAR NOT THE FINE PRINT, empowers people as they age and reminds them to have fun and enjoy the process.
SY: Your frames are made of 100% recyclable materials. Talk to us a bit about why you feel so passionately about sustainability and creating a brand with the least amount of negative impact on the planet.
AL: In the early ‘90s, I met Matt Peterson,the CEO of Global Green. At the time,
I was an executive at Atlantic Records, and he asked if I could help secure music talent for his Academy Award party (you may remember all the stars showing up in the new Prius). Well, we became close friends, and as I learned more about global warming and the need for change, I traded in my Land Rover for a Prius and started supporting sustainability efforts. So, when we started LOOK OPTIC, Matt was our first advisor and had one mission—to help us create a sustainable company. With over four million frames ending up in landfills yearly, we all must help make a difference.
Carolyn Murphy shares our passion for sustainability, and I hope that she will further influence others to make a change. We have a long way to go when it comes to prioritizing our planet, but together, one step at a time, we can make a difference.
SY: Philanthropy, which we are celebrating in this issue, and always, here at Westport, Weston & Wilton Magazine is at the core of your brand. Share with us a bit about your partnership with charity: water.
AL: Scott Harrison, the founder of charity: water is my hero. His story from New York club promoter to philanthropist is genuinely inspirational. Since meeting Scott and hearing his story, I have tried to do everything to support charity: water and Scott’s vision to bring clean water to every man, woman and child on the planet. So when we started LOOK, we made the decision to give a percentage of every sale to charity : water.
So many of us take clean water for granted. However, over 780 million people go without clean water every day. And contaminated water is the No.1 cause of preventable blindness worldwide.
But what I love most about charity: water is that 100% of all donations go to actual water projects so donors can see their contributions’ real, tangible and life-altering impact. Private donors fund operating costs so donors can rest assured that every penny they contribute will change people’s lives.
SY: As we look ahead to 2024 and fashion trends, is it just me, or are glasses the chicest way to accessorize?
AL: With more ZOOM calls and fewer face-to-face meetings, purses and shoes are no longer as visible. So, yes, glasses (and eyewear chains) have become the ultimate fashion accessories.
SY: Can you share with us any future collaborations you have on the horizon?
AL: At LOOK, we love celebrating strong women through our collaborations. We are so grateful to Selima Saluan (Selima Optique), Venus Williams, and Carolyn Murphy for their partnerships. And don’t opt out of our emails quite yet because, in 2024, we have another collaboration coming with one of our all-time favorite actresses known for her love of glasses…
Thank you, Andrew!