If you’ve been following Gem+Elli since the beginning you’ve probably noticed a change in direction of our brand a couple of times… you might even be wondering WHY?! Today, we thought we would share a little background into our selves, our brand, and why we love eyewear!
We started Gem+Elli as a creative outlet, a hobby, something “different” from our day to day lives. But if you know us in real life, you know that our full time jobs are in our family owned and operated eyewear shops. Our dad (hey PAL!) built his business from nothing after immigrating to America from Russia when we were just 3 years old. He became a licensed optician and opened his first eyewear store in Atlanta. Today we have two stores….the American dream became a reality.
Julie and I spent a lot of time at the store, including every take-your-daughter(s)-to-work-day where we would have to clean every single pair of glasses and then dad would teach us how to tint lenses and cut lenses, and all the fun stuff. We would spend hours trying on glasses and begging for our dad to let us keep some for ourselves!
Fast forward to when we got older, we started attending the trade shows in New York. Mostly, because we were living in NYC at the time and our parents would make the trip and kill-two-birds-with-one-stone, if you will. So it was a family affair to check out all the new brands and collections.
One day, while still living in the city, we were a little bored and a lot strapped for cash so we randomly decided to grab a couple of dead stock frames from our closet ( in our lives, there are frames EVERYWHERE, so why we even had these laying around our tiny apartment who really knows) and listed them on Etsy. By complete accident, that Etsy shop really took off! That was about 5 years ago and we STILL run it today! One day we realized that we wanted out of NYC and we wanted to start our own eyewear brand so we flew to Milan and started manufacturing a collection of reading glasses called Eyejets. Now you’re probably wondering why READING GLASSES?! We know, so NOT sexy but the cost of production was much less than sunglasses and hey, we had to start somewhere! So we made our first collection and we hit the road, popping up at trade shows, opening wholesale accounts and getting a very basic website up and running.
That lasted a couple of years until we were tired of reading glasses and wanted to do something “sexier.” This brings us to where we are today, transitioning our blog into a curated eyewear shop of smaller designer eyewear brands and vintage sunglasses. We wanted to create not just your typical online sunglasses retailer but a lifestyle destination where you’ll find travel inspiration, style, and some cool sunglasses and brands you may not have heard of as well as vintage eyewear!
It’s definitely a work in progress but this is what we love and we are so blessed to be able to work together as sisters! #ittakestwo
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