Glasses may primarily exist to correct vision or shield you from the sun, but it’s no secret that they can serve as a bold accessory. Woody Batts, Chief Creative Provocateur of Framed Eyewear, is well-versed in the power of frames – when you meet him, your eyes are drawn straight to the ones he has on. Bold, sharp and utterly one-of-a-kind, Woody’s self-designed glasses make quite the statement.
Woody took a moment to talk to us about how he launched this project, the artists who have influenced his designs and why he sometimes hands out his glasses to complete strangers. Read our conversation below:
How did this all begin?
I had to start wearing glasses young. I always liked wearing them. I’d fall asleep, take showers with them on, and I’d break them a lot.
But I was never finding exactly what I was looking for.
Six years ago, I was watching a documentary by a filmmaker named Melvin Van Peebles, the guy who created and starred in “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.” He was this guy who was born into a family of creatives, all of whom are now producers, directors, etc. When asked about the movie, Melvin said he wasn’t seeing the type of film he wanted to see, which is why he decided to make it himself. That totally made sense to me – I wasn’t finding what I wanted, so I should make my own.
So what did you do next?
I sketched out what I wanted and I took the sketches to a few people. One guy was actually very mean to me, but by being mean gave me constructive instructions, which were to use computer-aided design (CAD) to create a more tangible mockup of my glasses.
I finally found someone to make them in Abilene, Texas, who made me the prototype I wore while searching for a factory. From there I found a company to prototype them, and then I found a factory in Hong Kong – a friend who worked in fashion hooked me up with people there.
I’d say from the moment I drew the sketch to the moment my first shipment got delivered, the entire process took six years.
What’s happening now with your glasses?
The next steps are to sell. After all, when you start investing a lot into your projects, it starts to become important to get a return on your investment.
My personal brand is very important – “Hi, I’m Woody.” It’s on everything. I want to keep the gap between my commerce and me as minimal as possible. I really want to keep people close to me and grow a healthy fanbase.
And how does social media play into your marketing?
I’m on Facebook and I’m on Twitter. But more importantly, I try to find evangelists who truly enjoy my work and empower them to speak about it. I made a mistake of not asking people to do that for me initially. If you give someone something, they’ll say they like it, but they won’t actually do something about it.
That’s why when I give someone a pair of glasses, I ask them to share it across social media. There was a lady on the train from Venezuela who said she liked my frames, so I just gave her a pair.
If you have a quality number of people on social media who really like what you’re doing, then that’s a huge positive. That’s the goal.
Do you have any particular design influences?
I grew up in Florida in the ‘80s. My dad sold Ferraris and Jaguars for Crown, a car dealership in St. Petersburg. When I was a kid, you know, I would see these really shiny red sports cars and lots of neon, plastic and bright colors.
I was also struck by Patrick Nagel, an artist who painted these women who were very beautiful with white skin against a colorful background. But the women always seemed very distant.
Additionally, I am influenced by ukiyo-e, which is a style of flat, colorful printmaking from Japan that talks about the “floating world,” the present. It feels like it’s permanent but always drifting away from us.
Those elements combined are a hodgepodge of where I draw my style from.
Of course, you can also see that I’m interested in elements of plastic, 3D glasses, contemporary architecture, and in general the neon post-modern style of ‘80s.
How does your experience in advertising inform this project?
I have met so many people here who have side hustles. Some people think that detracts, but I think that influences. If you come from a frame of abundance, you are never in the dirt for ideas – they are always flowing from you.
Without the power of advertising, people aren’t going to find your product. If other people don’t know about it, then it’s not going to sell. Your job is to provide a value that’s worth sharing. My value is that I provide something that’s unique, that’s niche.
Check out Woody’s personal website to see his one-of-a-kind glasses, drawings and paintings.