This NUS Grad Runs A Sunglass Business That Aims To Fit All Faces

Caitlyn Lim Aiting, a recent economics graduate from the National University of Singapore (NUS), grew up in an entrepreneurial home.

Both of her parents started their own businesses – her father operated a suitcase industry in Vietnam and her mother ran a fashion clothing store in Orchard Road. Now she is following in their footsteps.

Since then, she has combined her love for fashion and her vision for an inclusive world to launch a sunglasses company that promotes the celebration of diversity.

A self-proclaimed fashionista, the 24-year-old tends to express herself through fashion, from the way she styles her clothes to the color of her hair.

He is also a very sensitive person to the plight of the minority groups around him. As far back as she can remember, she has always championed the rights of the marginalized community, including the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) group.

“It is very important that we accept that not everyone is the same and that we should embrace and celebrate diversity, instead of intimidating those who are not like us,” said Caitlyn.

“My generation, Generation Z, cares more about society and the environment than previous generations. We want to do business and buy products that promote the values ​​we believe in. “

That’s why she launched Twistrek, a fun and futuristic new generation sunglasses brand that targets a younger audience committed to supporting social inclusion.

I start with glasses because there is an old saying that says “the eyes are the windows to the soul”. We see the world differently through our thoughts, feelings, and belief systems. Therefore, everything we project and see through our eyes is a reflection of what is happening in our soul.

I hope to use the Twistrek sunglasses as a platform to initiate a change at the soul level. It is a brand of glasses that adapts to the faces of all races. The product itself is a celebration of diversity and inclusiveness, changing the beliefs of one customer and one soul at the same time.

-Caitlyn Lim Aiting, founder of Twistrek

Fit faces in all races

caitlyn lim twistrek
Caitlyn Lim, Founder of Twistrek / Image Credit: Caitlyn Lim

Caitlyn had observed a glaring gap in the eyewear industry: Most of the trendy sunglasses on the market are designed for Caucasian facial features, such as a higher nose bridge and a pointed face.

As she grew older, she realized that a lot of glasses didn’t match her flat nose bridge and wider frame.

With her three friends – Jessica Ho, an artistic director from Singapore; Larabella Myers from Italy / UK; and Matej Majesky from Slovakia / Germany – they organized focus groups in different countries to understand public opinion around sunglasses.

Their research found that people with a higher nose bridge have different pain points than those with a lower nose bridge.

They also found that the sunglasses issue was not just about comfort, but also style.

Since the existing options on the market can be quite boring and outdated, they wanted to bring in a fun, futuristic new style that transcends racial, political, and socio-economic lines.

“We want to design sunglasses that are fashionable, comfortable and fit for everyone,” Caitlyn said.

Challenges as a young bootstrapping company

Twistrek was incorporated in 2019 – right after Caitlyn’s graduation – and they’ve been going on since.

As the founder of the business, she bears the sole responsibility of raising funds for the business to run the business. She had to teach on the side to make ends meet, and everyone else on her team took on other jobs while building the business alongside her.

To date, she has disbursed around S $ 20,000 and plans to invest an additional $ 30,000 later this year.

Caitlyn also had to learn everything about glasses from scratch – she started out without any knowledge about sunglasses, or how to design and produce them.

In fact, none of the team members have any design or technical expertise to design the best sizes and shapes of sunglasses for comfort and style.

That’s why they brought an expert advisor – someone who has personalized eyeglass nose pads for decades – on board to make sure they’re on the right track.

twistrek sunglasses
Range of Twistrek glasses / Image credit: Twistrek

To find a suitable product market, Caitlyn visited optometrists and eyeglass stores, chatting with different people for hours. She also bought different brands to compare and measure, consulted with different industry experts and conducted various market research and surveys.

His substantive work did not stop there.

Caitlyn also researched the eyewear supply chain industry and reached out to different factories and suppliers to choose the right partner. It made a point of choosing a socially and ecologically sustainable Vietnamese supplier who cares about the socio-environmental responsibility of its material.

They have since applied to become a B-Corporation certified company. B Corporation is a certification that meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

There is no stability when you start your own business. You define your own success.

You have to dare to take risks and not be afraid of failure. Failure is just another lesson learned, so you need to be prepared to fail and learn every day.

-Caitlyn Lim Aiting, founder of Twistrek

Designed for Conscious Millennials and Gen Z

Although it was incorporated in 2019, the Twistrek eyewear range was not launched until June 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 epidemic.

A major challenge that the pandemic has caused is the delay in manufacturing in Vietnam, and this is exacerbated by the fact that the team could not fly there to speed up production.

twistrek sunglasses
New Age Beauty (left) and Cyberpunk (right) / Image credit: Twistrek

Regardless, Twistrek currently has two collections for sale: New Age Beauty and Cyberpunk, with prices ranging from US $ 25 to US $ 40 (S $ 33 to $ 53).

True to their vision and mission statement, Twistrek sunglasses are bold, different, fun and relevant across different groups and identities.

According to Caityln, the response from customers has been positive so far. She added that Twistrek sunglasses are getting the most attention in the United States and Singapore, with most purchases coming from younger and older Gen Z demographics.

We’ve managed to break even so far to cover our operational costs in this bootstrap startup, but of course we haven’t really put in a big marketing effort.

-Caitlyn Lim Aiting, founder of Twistrek

She explained that the lack of marketing was due to the fact that they had not yet launched on a large scale, as they were still waiting for their designer line to be ready, which is due out in September 2021.

These original designer sunglasses will be available in different cuts to accommodate as many face shapes and sizes as possible.

Twistrek is now focused on building its community and on a niche digital presence that sets them apart from their competitors.

For example, they’ve participated in TikTok and Instagram challenges, as well as reached out to community members and influencers to market their sunglasses.

They have also developed community activities to build their brand around messages of inclusion and diversity. They recently launched a Quirky Monday newsletter, in which they feature a unique member of the community each Monday.

“Our community is called Twistfam,” Caitlyn said proudly.

“In our family, you are free to embrace who you are – we celebrate your individuality, your uniqueness, your personality. We celebrate you in full! “

Featured Image Credit: Twistrek

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