SOLBOU – Thomas Dore
Thomas Dore’s SOLBOU adds a unique touch to your summer wardrobe with hand-picked sunglasses directly sourced from independent designers across the world.
Frustrated with finding same style of shades, Thomas created SOLBOU to help wearers stand out from the crowd with uniquely designed frames.
The 29-year-old from Brixton, London, describes the inspiration behind launching his own business and his obsession with sunglasses.
“Realising there wasn’t a guaranteed dream job after uni was a big wake-up call”
“I wasn’t overly productive at university beyond getting my History degree – It was after that I realised there wasn’t a guaranteed dream job waiting for me.
This was a big wake-up call and most likely sparked my current work-ethic.
When I graduated from University of Sheffield, I moved to London and worked several jobs – bars, fashion showrooms and a charity.
After a few month of doing this, I began working as a Runner for an advertising production company in London then steadily worked my way up to become a Producer.
In March 2013, I went freelance and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Becoming self-employed and making that work was a big step to gaining the confidence needed to set up SOLBOU in May 2015.
SOLBOU is an online ‘Premium Sunglasses Boutique’ stocking a collection of beautifully hand-picked top-quality sunglasses by independent designers from across the world.
The aim is to offer our customers an alternative to the mass-produced, low quality and over-priced, products that are mostly sold on the high-streets and websites.
It’s essentially an outlet for those wanting to find eyewear that is a bit different and of unprecedented quality.
The idea was born from my own frustration with particularly buying sunglasses online. When searching for shades, I was finding the same brands and frames over and over again, on a number of confusing websites.
None of the frames were particularly inspiring and it was hard to be confident in the sites themselves as to how genuine the items were.
Something you wear on your face for most of the summer should be individual and personal to you.
Speaking to friends, family and colleagues, it quickly became clear that most people find buying shades a bit of a nightmare.
That gave me the idea of starting SOLBOU – A place where you can be guaranteed to find great sunglasses that will not only stand out from crowd, but also last a lifetime if well looked after.
“I love the idea of owning a business & working for my own goals”
I’ve always had an interest in fashion but was slightly obsessive when it comes to sunglasses – Not only as a fashion accessory, but as an object in their own right.
I find them quite beautiful to look at and just a nice item to hold and carry around with you. You hold a lot of memories in sunglasses as they’re often with you when you’re having fun.
There’s also something quite antiquated and traditional about sunglasses when they’re hand-crafted. You can see and feel that someone has spent time and effort into making them.
It is fascinating to see how a pair of frames can transform a person’s face and speak volumes about the wearer.
Until about 2 or 3 years ago, I would never have thought I would’ve have set up my own business. I love the idea of owning a business and working for my own ultimate goals.
I enjoy that it can offer more flexibility and can allow for a great work / life balance.
When it’s your own small business, you also naturally see and feel the satisfaction from each success more directly, than when working in a bigger company.
That can be very exciting and fulfilling – The sourcing, buying and selling aspect of SOLBOU is a lot fun.
As a new business, you quickly learn to prioritise very strictly with money and also your time and efforts.
The main difficulty that I’ve encountered is financial issue – Often needing to do something for the first time, not only cheaply but also well, has forced me to learn a lot of different skills I didn’t necessarily think I would ever know.
It has made me to be quite adaptable and pragmatic in order to keep overheads as low as possible.
This will be our first full spring / summer trading but the aim is to continue expanding the collection by adding a few more great designers to the site.
Eventually, the big goal is to open up a small bricks & mortars store in London.”
Advice to Others – “Talk to as many people in the industry as you can. Do your research. And, if you still think it’ll work – then go for it.”