Māori couple launches world's first Polynesian eyewear brand

By Marena Mane

No experience running an online business and a bunch of sunglasses worth $350 was the starting point for a Māori couple based in Australia.

Allies and Martin Coromandel launched L.Eyes Eyewear in 2017 — L.Eyes rhymes with Allies — and have since sold more than 30,000 sunglasses online to people around the world.

Allies (Ngāti Kahungunu, Tainui) says an idea for an eyelash business switched to an eyewear business when her husband brought home a bunch of sunglasses.

“When the glasses actually arrived, we loved the quality. I thought, okay, we need to put paua on these glasses, we need to put designs on these glasses, and that's kind of where it evolved from,” she says.

Martin (Ngāti Whanaunga) says with no experience running an online business, they listened to podcasts, watched YouTube tutorials, followed successful entrepreneurs online, and learned through trial and error.

“We learned a lot from our mistakes,” he says.

Online sales are doing well too, despite Covid-19.

“That's probably one of the secrets to our success, just reinvesting that money back into the business, and eventually it's kind of grown to the point where it's at now. It's been a huge blessing.”

Martin says that in the future, they intend to work with national retailers to make their glasses more widely available in Aotearoa.

For more information about L.Eyes Eyewear or to buy glasses visit: www.leyesstore.com