INTERVIEW: Rebekah Kouy-Ghadosh
How was your company founded?
Many years ago I worked in radio. I produced a radio program, dabbled in DJing on air, and also reported pieces. As much as I enjoyed telling stories I realized I had an immense desire to create something tangible which radio wasn't. It's too ephemeral. You listen to a story, and then *poof* it is gone.
I wanted to make something that wasn't just there for the sake of it and thought about my own struggles. I've worn glasses since the 3rd grade. I changed my frames once a year at most so it resonated with me how much they became a part of my identity. At the time I had a pair of Oliver Peoples so I thought I would start with them. I cold called Larry Leight [what else was I gonna do with my background as a journalist?] and asked him how he got into it. He told me he worked as an optician before starting his company so I did the same. I got my ABO license, went to work as an optician for 3 years saving up money, then started Bex Spex.
Why did you get started in this industry?
Glasses are so intimate; they rest right there on your face. I love that glasses are at an intersection between fashion and need. They can make a statement if you want them to. Glasses are also a place where you really get the most value for your fashion money. You wear them EVERY DAY. A day doesn't go by where someone doesn't complement me on my frames. You change your frames, you change your outlook.
Which charities are you involved with and why?
I volunteer my time with the San Francisco chapter of Dress for Success. They help with every aspect of the job search, and place emphasis on suiting women for job interviews. I've helped at their clothing donation drives, as an auctioneer at their Gala events, and what I like most, giving talks to women who are looking for work. My main focus with that talk I give a couple times a year is "Transferable Job Skills". How do you transition from one industry to another? This topic is personal for me since I studied a language in college, worked in radio, and now run a glasses company. None of us are just one job. It's important to highlight your different sets of skills to whomever your audience is. Looking for work is the hardest job you can have. I like helping women get back on their feet.
I also donate annually to Friends of the SF Public Library and the SF Food Bank. You gotta feed the mind and body.
What separates you from the competition?
It's such a small collection. You won't see anyone else walking around with the Bex Spex frames you've got on. You're special, your frames should be.
All the frames are handmade in a small factory in Italy. They are made in 3 color combinations. Not only are the styles of the frames designed in house, so are the color combinations. You won't find them anywhere else. The quality and style are both there.
What inspires you at work?
Going on walks with my little rescue pup Oliver. I feel very fortunate to be living in San Francisco. Whenever I feel stuck with something the two of us get up, go for a walk and stare at the gorgeous colors and details of the Victorian houses. I also really enjoy a good cup of warm tea.
I'm really looking forward to the day I'm out and about and run into someone I've never met before wearing one of my frames. The possibility of that inspires me to keep making.