Tim Broekhuizen Holland & Robbert Wefers Bettink | Dick Moby
The summer months may have long passed and we may be preparing for yet another cold winter, but that's not to say that sunglasses have become irrelevant. Meet avid surfers Robbert
Wefers Bettink and Tim Broekhuizen Holland of sustainable sunglasses brand,
. In their office in the creative
hub/hotel/coworking space the Volkshotel, the sun is still shining. After launching their brand with a successful
earlier this year to almost selling out their first collection, Tim and Robbert are busy
preparing for 2015. And they're on a mission: by using a new bio-plastic acetate and spending 10% of their yearly revenue on projects with the Surfriders Foundation, they're inspiring
not only the glasses industry, but society as a whole, to address plastic pollution and help find ways to create a bright future for plastic and the world's oceans. Here, they tell us
What’s your story?
Robbert Wefers Bettink: I studied fashion at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and started a fashion label in 2009 called Sober with Cissy Noordeloos. It went pretty well, we received national and international attention in press and at tradeshows, but it was a difficult time to start your own clothing line, and we decided to move on. Then I helped out friends of mine at Atelier de l'Armée . When I met up with Tim, who had been playing around with the idea of starting his own sustainable sunglasses brand for about two years, we started Dick Moby together.
Tim Broekhuizen Holland: I’m actually a graphic designer. I studied at the Hogeschool van Kunsten in Utrecht and cofounded Creative Monkeys , an Amsterdam-based digital agency. After working in the field for several years I had this desire to actually create a physical product instead of online campaigns and websites. So I quit and started Dick Moby.
Tim: We both grew up sailing and surfing. We’ve traveled the globe for the best surfing spots, and even in the most remote places, you find plastic on the beach. Plastic bottles, plastic wrapping, toothbrushes… It’s such a waste. Maybe the solution to plastic waste is to appreciating plastic for what it is. What if we start to see it as a valuable resource? Then we’ll start to treat it more sustainably and think of more things we can do with it. It’s interesting that when we think of plastic, like the discarded plastic on beaches, we think of it as trash but when we see it in the form of an expensive pair of sunglasses, we think of it as something beautiful. So we thought, why not we make quality sustainable sunglasses?
What makes them sustainable?
R: The initial idea was to use recycled plastic found in the ocean. We soon discovered that we couldn’t use this plastic to make the high-quality product we wanted.
T: It’s paradoxical; you might think you’re solving waste problems by making a pair of low quality sunglasses using recycled plastic, but you’re not actually solving anything because you’re making a product that no one wants. So for now we use bio-plastic acetate (M49), a new plastic made out of renewable resources (it doesn't contain oil so it can easily be broken down). But it’s an in between solution. Our mission is to make our sunglasses using recycled materials but it shouldn’t go to the cost of the quality. That’s why 10% of our revenue funds research on how to recycle plastic and to create awareness to prevent plastic pollution, with our partners, TerraCycle and the Surfrider Foundation .
OK, I have to ask about the name. Where did Dick Moby come from?
T: Dick Moby was a professional American ping pong player in the 1960s. He was actually the first person to switch from wooden to paddles. Unfortunately he broke his wrist right before the Olympics and never had his chance to shine. We wanted to honor him. And no, there's no relation to Moby Dick.
How did you go about creating your first collection of sunglasses?
R: It started with drawing a moodboard and doing research into what it is we wanted to create. The first collection was really about the brand – who do we want to be? How do we want to position ourselves? We wanted our sunglasses to have a classic but timeless design. So we started drawing; when we had a number of different designs cut out of cardboard, we tried them on about 20 different people. We then scaled our designs back to two or three, and asked a freelance designer to take a look at the ergonomics of the designs. Then we decide on the colors, the lenses, the finishing touches, etc. Creating a good pair of glasses is all about the details. (Watch 'The making-of Dick Moby' video here ).
You ran a crowdfunding campaign to launch your first collection. How did it go?
T: We needed some money to start the production process. But the main reason we wanted to do crowdfunding is that we wanted to see if there was demand for a sustainable sunglasses brand. With just a few prototypes, we were able to test the demand, and get feedback from our target audience.
R: We’re a brand of the people. The crowdfunding campaign helped us to put our name out there, to connect with our target audience. The more than 600 people who helped fund the crowdfunding campaign are now proud ambassadors of the brand – that’s great.
What does a day look like?
R: First, coffee!
T: You have to take on so many different roles when running your own business. Sometimes we’re shopkeepers, packing boxes and maintaining lists. Other times we’re photographers. Then we’re salesmen at a fair in Berlin, and then we’re running to shops to deliver orders. It’s really a mix. But we’re really ‘making’ something. Rob, you’ve experienced this before. But for me, it’s like, wow, you’re doing everything yourself from the graphic design to the website to the actual delivery of the sunglasses.
What are your plans for the future?
T: World domination!
R: We’ve already reached the stage we hoped to be in five years from now. It’s all going so fast. I guess it means we are really able to tap into the market with these sustainable sunglasses. We’re currently working on our next collection and we’re looking into more ways to work with partners like the Surfrider Foundation.
T: We want to focus more on our mission to use recycled plastic for our sunglasses. We want to inspire the industry to start thinking creatively about the use of waste plastic. And we’re working strategically to develop the brand. 2015 is going to be a very interesting year for us.
Thanks Rob and Tim for this interview! More about Dick Moby on their website , and be sure to follow along on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .