Most independent businesses worth their salt, it would seem, take shape whilst striving to tackle personal needs; their chief brainstormers doubling as would-be clients. In the case of Sacha Cahill and Dan Nugent – the co-founders/blue-light busters behind Ambr Eyewear – such a statement rings especially true.
“When our daughter was around one, during the winter,” Nugent recalls, “we started to spend more time staring at screens. We weren’t going out so much, having a young child, plus I was looking at my phone loads on the dark commute home… the two of us were always complaining about sore eyes, and being unable to sleep from a mixture of both screen time and baby!”
Kickstarting research well before it went mainstream, the pair stumbled upon multiple reports linking blue light with both short-term (eye-strain, sleeplessness) and long-term (vision loss – I’m a walking case study for this one) ocular issues. “The only [blue light] glasses I could find were these cheap, non-branded, bright orange frames from Amazon,” continues Nugent, “which I started wearing all the time – then something clicked. There was no reliable-quality brand selling [blue light specs], and we loved the thought of setting up a side project from home,” so, merging Cahill’s “design brains” with Nugent’s digital marketing background, Ambr Eyewear was born.
Following two years of tireless prototyping and fine-tuning, Ambr’s mission to “make computer glasses cool” has soared: some 77 countries encompass their burgeoning client base, stretching from Ireland to Indonesia (and all else in between), whilst their slick collection of specs – comprising 9 frame styles in a cornucopia of shades – land outside of ’cyborg chic’ territory, whilst firmly shunning fast-fashion trends. Purchasing a pair online couldn’t be more seamless: I sailed from opening page to order confirm in less than five minutes, having fallen heads-over-heels for the Nova glasses in emerald green.
Lest you think these only cater to the moderately myopic, non-prescription glasses make up 90% of Ambr’s sales; awarding their aesthetic a strong seal of approval. “People who don’t usually wear glasses are way more reluctant to come into work one day with a giant pair, so we really consider how to best ease those customers into wearing them,” Nugent affirms.
Ambr’s latest coup sees them combine skill-sets with Happy Out’s Brian Hanratty (who helms Bull Island’s sole cafe) to launch a Wicklow St pop-up with serious design cred. Giving the neighbouring multi-nationals a run for their money (they know who they are), the space “definitely won’t look like a Specsavers”, Hanratty laughs, free of the antiquated, sterile images that usually encircle a trip to the optician’s. Swapping medics in white coats for fantastic coffee and carefully-crafted frames, consumers are encouraged to “take their time: have a coffee, work on their laptops or chill out… it’s as much a cafe as an eyewear store,” Nugent states. Clientele around this slice of the city are especially fierce in their support of local business – around the corner, Kaph and Loose Canon are continually teeming – so they’ve clearly picked the right spot.