Seeing the Bright Side | Shiva Shabani of WE ARE SONS + DAUGHTERS
If there's one way to describe Sons + Daughters co-founder Shiva Shabani - she's a ray of sunshine. I mean, it's hard not to be when you're designing the coolest kids' eyewear out there, worn by the likes of Rihanna's beloved Majesty and Beyoncé's daughter, Blue Ivy. MISSBISH sat down with the creative and charismatic Shabani to get her two cents on balancing work and play, doing what you love and more.
Where are you from? Where have you lived? Where is home currently?
I currently live in Vancouver, B.C. Truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I consider Hong Kong my second home, and travel between New York and Paris often.
Tell us about Sons + Daughters.
It’s a brand that was created out of love and complete creativity - I wanted to design a product that carried imagination and innovation at its core.
What led you to start a kid's eyewear company?
I don't have any children yet, but I do love the abundance of creative energy kids have and wanted to explore it through Sons + Daughters. I was also always surprised that there are so many clever, beautiful options for adults, yet the kids' selection was somewhat dismissed.
I decided to take on the challenge to design a product with care and integrity. I wanted it to meet the cleverness, playfulness, and seriousness of kids.
Sons + Daughters Eyewear is about celebrating ideas and creativity. And obviously, I’m Eyewear obsessed! The brand happens to be a byproduct of all these components.
What are some challenges you face as an entrepreneur?
Every year presents a new set of challenges. In the first year or two, it was balance! I became completely work obsessed - I still love every moment I spend with the brand, but have managed to find more structure within my work flow.
Also, recognizing that it’s okay to not know everything! The most important ingredient is to surround yourself with people that do know, and can do certain tasks better than you can.
Explain the process of conception to production for a single pair of glasses.
I co-concept with my business partner, Calvin Yu. We have a very symbiotic process within which we are both extremely creative and open to each other's ideas - we truly create with zero ego. It’s my favourite part of the job. The production aspect is more logistics and timing.
How did living in Asia shift your worldview?
They say a Hong Kong second is a New York minute! So one, better hustle. It taught me precisely this; to hustle! I also learned the power of networking in Hong Kong. It’s such an incredible place to meet and learn from everyone around you with a worldly perspective.
Hong Kong is very unique in a sense that it’s transient with a very diverse group of people. I think of it as the edge of the world where all kinds of people pass through and are open to have a conversation with a stranger. I cherish this aspect of Hong Kong and travel back often to maintain my connection to the city.
What are some parallels between Vancouver and Hong Kong? How do you find balance?
The cities are tightly knit in terms of people, business, and culture. Having said that, Vancouver is extremely laid back and is highly desirable on a global scale. But that also means that it is often the place where people splurge in its beauty, rather than get down to business.
I love it here, but I need to make sure to visit Hong Kong regularly to re-connect to its energy, and to remind myself that I need to move at its speed to keep up!
“Keep evolving through innovation and keep pushing boundaries within the sector and beyond."
What is the eyewear industry like for young, creative women?
It's a balance - in some cases, I find the industry to be extremely supportive and encouraging. Children's eyewear is a largely untapped market, so I spend a lot of time educating and explaining to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, etc. exactly what it is we are looking to achieve.
In other cases, I have to fight to be taken seriously for people to take action when necessary. It's a remarkably small industry, with a few powerhouses who control the vast majority of the market. There's also a handful of independents doing great work and carving out a place in the market.
In your experience, how is the optical world changing, if at all?
I think the whole world of retail and fashion is in constant change. The consumers are incredibly clever and well equipped with a world of information at their fingertips, which makes it easier for brands such as Sons + Daughters to attract like-minded consumers.
The optical world has never taken the kids' sector seriously enough. I mean, as far as attention to design, detail, and quality goes. I hope we are making a lasting contribution to the evolution of kids’ eyewear.
What are your goals for your brand?
Longevity! To keep evolving through innovation and to keep pushing boundaries within the sector and beyond.
How do you relieve stress?
To be completely honest, I love my wine and long drives. Of course, exercise is essential too!
Is fitness a part of your life? If so, how often do you exercise and in what form?
I was a gymnast for 7 years, so training has been a big part of my routine since. I like to switch it up a bit, throwing in a bit of yoga, spin, and Tight Club sessions in the mix.
Three hidden gems in Vancouver.
1. Le Faux Bourgeois
2. Cafe Galleria
3. Milano Coffee
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
To be gentle, yet strong in delivery. And to keep persistent in our pursuits!
Photos by: Ian Lanterman