Ugly Fish has been around since 2003. Prior to then, there’d been a huge gap in the fishing and outdoors industry for high quality, mid-priced sunnies (both plano and prescription). Manuch Darabi, a keen fisher, recognised that gap and founded Ugly Fish. He came up with the catchy brand name and his son Faraz developed the logo.
From there, the father and son team have spawned a successful eyewear company comprising frames for fishing and outdoors, motorcycle riding, industry and trade, children and regular sun wear.
mivision caught up with Faraz to find out more.
Q. What’s your philosophy for life and how do you interpret this through your eyewear design?
You only get one life so you need to give it all you have… it’s important to do the things you love and have good quality, affordable tools that are reliable.
Whether it’s a keen fisher who needs sunnies with bifocals to be able to tie knots, or a weekend motorcycle rider needing eyewear to protect their eyes so they can ride with confidence and take in the scenery, we’ve developed specific functional products to cater to their needs.
Q. What makes your eyewear stand out from the crowd?
Our key point of difference is our very high quality, which is delivered at an affordable price.
The other key point is functionality – our sun products are never designed solely for the sake of looking good. They must always provide additional benefits to the user. This is why we have designed specific products for specific markets. So, we have prescription and plano sunnies for fishing and outdoors, motorcycle riding, industry and trade. We have children’s specs and an unbreakable range of kids’ sunnies, and a range of prescription sunnies that are endorsed and offered in the programs of reputable global and Australian lens suppliers.
Even our spectacle ranges, which we’ve been producing since 2018, cater to all ages and sizes and are purpose designed for functionality.
Q. How do you profile your typical wearer?
Our customers are active – they love the outdoors and they don’t mind getting their hands dirty. They are after eyewear that won’t break the bank, but is reliable, gives them good protection by design (if it’s sunnies) and is light weight, fits nicely and can be adjusted (if it’s specs).
Typical Ugly users have started out with a pair for one purpose, and then expanded their collection with more pairs to suit other aspects of life. For example, they may be a motorcycle rider who has used the product for years, knows the brand and trusts it. As a tradesman, that same person will use our safety eyewear, and buy our children’s frames for their kids as well.
Q. What do you particularly enjoy about designing eyewear?
Getting it right. Bringing to market functional products that people find comfortable to wear as soon as they put them on.
We enjoy hearing them compliment the product on first try and there’s nothing better than knowing there are now a lot of loyal Ugly supporters who have had multiple pairs of our products over the past 17 years.
Q. In recent years you have expanded your collection to include eyewear for kids and teens – can you tell us about that?
Our products for kids and teens are terrific. Traditionally, products in this space have been quite highly priced and lacking functionality. What we have introduced is extremely functional, comfortable and affordable eyewear that looks and feels good too. Our specs collection is great to handle and easy to adjust, and our sun collection is made from an unbreakable frame material, which is so important for this active market.
Q. How difficult was it to break into the overseas market?
If you have a good product with a point of difference, it’s not so difficult. We are successfully selling different ranges into markets that include the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Q. Where are your frames made and how do you maintain quality?
The majority of our manufacturing is in Taiwan. Some parts, materials and lenses are sourced through Italy, Germany, Japan and Korea.
To ensure quality control, we are very hands on and have the strictest standards. Our manufacturers know exactly the materials we want and work with us step-by-step from mould tooling through to production. Our products are checked, pair by pair, at the manufacturer’s facility, before going through a second round of quality control when they arrive at our facility in Australia. It is so important to us that no products are shipped directly to any of our customers in Australia or abroad without having first arrived into our hands to be checked.
Q. Where do your ideas come from?
There will always be gaps in various industries to fill. Sometimes, people don’t know what they need or what will be good for them until they see it – they just tolerate and use what is available. Whatever ideas we come up with are purposeful and designed to give users a positive experience.
Q. What’s coming next?
COVID-19 caused us to delay delivery of most of our new season’s range. That means 2021 will be an unusual year for us as we release a lot of our new products early in the calendar.
Q. Finally, what’s your advice for optometry practices in 2021?
They need to be more open minded… try different products… and most importantly remember that all customers who require vision correction need both specs and prescription sunglasses. Somehow this doesn’t seem to be front of mind for many practices – their focus is on specs alone – so they’re missing a great opportunity to build sales and help customers.
Ugly Fish is distributed by Piranha Eyewear (AUS) 1300 369 574.