For your reading enjoyment: Katie Caplener and Alexis Sepkovic from VADA in conversation with Black Optical:
How did VADA eyewear come about?
Sepkovic - I met Katie in 2015 when she was dating one of my friends and we became instant buds. She was a couple years into Vada at that point and I loved all of the pieces - especially this huge silver 60’s-style necklace that totally felt off-kilter and kind of Polly Maggoo to me. I’d always wanted to work on a jewelry collection. Around that time I was working for the design studio behind Jacques Marie Mage so Katie knew all about my background in eyewear.
Caplener - Introducing eyewear to my brand happened pretty naturally. I have been an avid collector of eyewear over the years and having Alexis on my team with eyewear experience, it just made sense. Jewelry for your face. Once we got started I realized this industry was dominated by males so we wanted to bring a feminine perspective to the table. We create all of our digital designs on an androgynous face, we want our frames to be genderless and seasonless-- which is something that I think will change in fashion.
When did your love for eyewear begin?
Sepkovic - I’ve been around eyewear my entire life (my dad was an eyewear salesman in the 90s), and after working for other brands in my twenties I still wasn’t seeing the frames out there that I wanted to wear.
Caplener - After visiting our factory in Japan I noticed a lot of parallels between jewelry and eyewear production as well. We use some of the same polishing equipment and tumblers. My understanding of jewelry production has really helped me through this process.
What are you most excited about right now with your brand?
Sepkovic - Someone I look up to once taught me that “challenges are a creative’s best friend”. We think the challenges from Covid offered our industry a new perspective as it relates to excessive production as well as seasonality. For example, before the current global crises (covid & climate) coalesced, we had a lot of push back on our untraditional eyewear packaging. Most people expected a ‘luxurious’ unboxing experience to come with top-shelf eyewear, but that’s just not what we’re about...the product itself is the product and we don’t feel the need to up-sell you with a disposable box. Now that customers are really thinking about the limited nature of our shared resources, we are seeing a surge of new appreciation for our micro-batch production method, as well as things like our use of non-toxic algae inks and plantable warranty cards….and of course, cellulose acetate. I am super motivated to explore more areas where we can push the envelope further in our eyewear manufacturing processes.