How Xiwen Zhang Created "For Art's Sake" — a Luxury Sunglasses Brand

And how Beyoncé, Eva Chen, Rita Ora and other stars help to sell them in Net-A-Porter, Saks Fifth Avenue and Harvey Nichols in New York and in 66 countries
Let me introduce a story of Xiwen Zhang, who's recently given a keynote about her business to members and guests of the Young Business Club of London and New York.

Building a business is always a tough job. You're looking for the idea and then work hard on making it a reality, but never have the confidence that it will work. Sometimes the success of the company is determined in the details. (or: sometimes "the devil is in the details").

It's the story of the interesting and unique sunglasses brand: "For Art's Sake," created by Xiwen Zhang. She proved by her own example that sometimes the model of creating business could be different from what we are used to.

I highlighted four main ideas from Xiwen's speech during the meeting with the members of the Young Business Club and want to share them with you.
Just look around

Xiwen Zhang was born in China into a family of fashion manufacturers and grew up with the idea that she also wanted to have her own business. Taking into account that the fashion market was overloaded, after graduating from the university, she was looking for an idea for the company and found it accidentally during her vacation in Greece.

Together with her boyfriend, Yannis Makridis, she was looking for some sunglasses to buy, but was not able to find something appropriate — the design was too poor or prices too high. After coming back to London, Xiwen came to the conclusion that she wanted to create her own sunglasses manufacturing company. Together with her boyfriend, she used some savings and started working on this idea. Their goal was to create luxury but affordable sunglasses.

Today "For Art's Sake" has 2 locations in London and Shenzhen. The office in England oversees sales and the office in China is concentrated on production.
Always pay attention to details

The success of this brand was built on many factors and especially on the attention to detail. First of all, take a look at the brand's name. Xiwen told us that in the very beginning it sounded odd for some people but nowadays the name "For Art's Sake" catches one's attention, makes you pause, think a bit about the meaning and always remember it.

One more unique feature of the brand is the packaging. Other companies choose simple packaging, but not "For Art's Sake". Together with the sunglasses, customers get an original eco-friendly box that can be used as a regular case for the glasses and looks like an expensive accessory.

The third feature the company pays attention to is the design of the shop. When coming inside, the customer finds him- or herself inside of a sunglasses box. The inside interior is full of mirrors which helps make store space visually larger. The ambiance this creates is impressive and memorable.
Outsourcing to experts

Xiwen prefers to outsource tasks to expert specialists.. For example, the brand's social media strategy is created by a marketing agency. The idea to involve celebrities in ad campaigns was also suggested by the agency. It's interesting, but communication with Beyonce started quite easily with a small talk on chat. Rita Ora's stylists contacted the brand themselves.

They even created a separate page on their website to list and provide pictures of CEOs and CELEBRITIES who are wearing FAS sunglasses.
Don't give up because of difficulties

"For Art's Sake," like many companies, including the sunglasses' industry, lost a significant business during the recent crisis. At the very beginning of the quarantine, people were not ready to spend money on luxury items. Moreover, nowadays, there are no tourists in London, so sales are continually falling.

But Xiwen already has some ideas on how to overcome this. First of all, they offer customers the option of purchasing online and will introduce a new collection soon. Thanks to their wise financial strategy in the past and steady cash flow, "For Art's Sake" can survive without income for an extended period.

Taking into account that sunglasses is a seasonal business, the company is currently working on development in a new direction — during wintertime, they will also produce jewelry.

"For Art's Sake" sunglasses are sold in 45 countries over 600 stores, including Net-A-Porter, Saks Fifth Avenue and Harvey Nichols in New York. The sunglasses are handmade and retail at around $200.
It'll be exciting to follow their development! Let's support Xiwen and her team, and let's wish them all the very best.
I'm a fan of connecting people. Should you like to reach Xiwen Zhang "For Art's Sake" in regard to any business inquiry, please, message me, and I will connect you.

I do my best to remember and publish everything I hear from the incredible people of the Young Business Club. I'm not a professional writer and it's not a work for me. Sometimes, I have no inspiration for publishing the stories. If you'd like me to continue publishing them on Medium, you are very welcome to let me know about it.

Are you a business founder willing to hear such stories directly? Do you have an idea to find investors, trusted contractors, and close friends among entrepreneurs, who might help you improve yourself and your business? You are welcome to apply for joining our outstanding community.

We'll do our best to find a seat for you among the entrepreneurs and business owners from New York, London and Kyiv, in a safe place for trust, growth, and interaction. Just google the Young Business Club.
Denny Copy, co-founder of YBC NYC