Brillen in Rekordgeschwindigkeit, nur 20 Minuten Fertigungsprozess und über 120 verschiedene Kombinationsmöglichkeiten. Sehen, kaufen und sofort mitnehmen? Das verspricht zumindest das minimalistische Berliner Brillenlabel YUN, welches mit koreanischen Designansätzen die Brillenwelt revolutionieren möchte.
Wir haben uns mit der Gründerin Jiyoon Yun getroffen, um mehr über das junge Label, dessen erster Flagshipstore im Oktober 2015 in Berlin Mitte eröffnet wurde, zu erfahren. Zeit für eine neue Folge „Inspired by“.
1. What has changed in the lifestyle glasses industry within the last years?
Only few years ago, you couldn’t find affordable price of glasses because every optical shops sell glasses at high price. People naturally thought that glasses were very expensive products. Then people realized that the reason of high price is because of price bubble generated by goods going through several distribution steps. They realized that much high price isn’t related to the quality of the products.
Recently new type of companies came on the stage with the concept of in-house design and direct sales, not with the help of distributors. As they sell glasses by themselves, price goes down and glasses become approachable and practical products to customers.
This trend makes people easy to buy and truly enjoy glasses. Now people are not afraid of having glasses anymore because of the price. Glasses came to your life more closely.
2. What inspired you to establish YUN?
As most of people in creative fields think the same way, I had always dreamed of having my own brand in the future. And for me, it doesn’t matter what kind of things I design. I just wanted to create my own brand which represents myself and wanted to share with people who have same feeling with me. At that time, my dad was preparing for a totally new concept of optical shop and he asked me to join his business. I thought this would be perfect to combine his deep knowledge and experience and my young sense and taste together. I believed that we could make a great synergy and complemented each other since my dad is more like a business man always keeps an eye on the numbers and efficiency, and I’m more like a creator who always look for new things and care for the brand identity. Basically YUN is the result of collaboration of my dad and myself. It’s a great asset that the brand already has its own history and a firm philosophy. Smart consumers always want to know about what behind of the brand and consume the products by feeling empathy with the brand. I’m very lucky that I met a person who already paved the way in the field for a long time who is my family.
3. Can you please tell us a bit about the philosophy of YUN?
Making the equilibrium between design and technology. YUN has its own strict visual communication rule to show the consistent brand image to the customers, from the product design and packaging to space, photo campaign, and so on which can be elements of brand experience. Everything related to YUN is made by the hands of us with our meticulous attention to detail. At the same time, we always emphasize the importance of the original function of glasses. Glasses are not like just fashion accessories because the main purpose of wearing them is to protect eyes and correct the vision. All our lenses are from our lens lab in Korea and they are tinted and coated by ourselves with strict quality standard. All frames are designed by YUN and manufactured in factories who have intimate partnership with YUN so that we can guarantee the quality. Our automated production system and lens calculating system make reduce the workload and make glasses accurately per each order. Also professional opticians are always helping you to find suitable glasses, measure your vision correctly and adjusting your frame to fit to your face.
There are many eyewear brands came out recently with the reasonable price by own in-house design. But all of them are presenting theirselves as fashion brands, which means they only care for the brand image, not care so much for the quality of the products, optical service, accuracy of the visions and the after service. Most of them don’t have offline presence and even though they have their own shops, these are for presenting their products only. People cannot expect the cutting-edge technology and professional optical service in there. I think being balanced between design and technology, it differentiate YUN from the competitors.
4. It’s nowadays very trendy to wear glasses. Do you think it’s because people are not afraid anymore to showcase their flaws?
I think that’s because there weren’t many choices in the market in the past. Basically the market couldn’t arouse people’s implied needs of wearing glasses. People who wanted to buy glasses but didn’t like to go to traditional optical shops couldn’t find a suitable place to get their glasses. Recently retailers become aware of the importance of brand and its experience, as well as the product itself. Now we can see many eyewear brands with diverse characteristics than before, when passing by the street. People can have more choices and this market trend naturally converts people’s implied needs into explicit needs of wearing glasses.
5. Korea is famous for being a country extremely focused on beauty and perfection. Are there actually people wearing glasses?
As for Korean men, yes. I have many Korean male friends who wear different glasses everyday. Depending on the occasion and their fashion style, they choose different shape and color of glasses. For example, casual silhouette and color of acetate frames during weekend and urban intelligent look slim metal frames at work. Before I start my own business, I wanted to hear others’ view about eyewear and their purchasing behavior, and it was an amazing fact for me that men also care so much about their appearance like women. For guys, wearing glasses means grooming themselves. Glasses are more than just for their vision. Glasses are one of the elements constitutes their identity.
It’s true that Korean women rarely wear glasses in their daily life. But recently, the importance of protecting eyes from electronic devices is highlighted because of a sad reality of modern people who cannot live without their smartphones and work without computers. They started paying attention to functional glasses, blue-light protection glasses, so many my female friends wear glasses at work for protection.
6. What’s the main difference between Korea and Berlin and where do you feel more homely?
Both of cities have a lot in common – dynamic, vibrant, with full of youth. Seoul, Korea, is always my home. I was born and grew up in Seoul. All my friends are living in there so whenever I go back to Korea, I feel comfortable. It’s a great asset that I have friends who always are on my side and come running to see me whenever I need them. Berlin is my second home as well. The big difference between Seoul and Berlin is, young people in Berlin is more brave than people in Seoul and I feel comfortable in a different sense. I feel like there are more opportunities for young people to do what they really want, especially things which have a lot of uncertainties. I think that’s because of a stable national system and advanced social welfare. In comparison with Korean, who always are worried about their unstable future so finally choose stable jobs in big companies, ignoring their true talent, German, especially Berliners, do focus on whatever they want. Actually recently I can see lots of young smart Korean come to Berlin to realize their dreams.
7. Why did you move to Berlin and what makes this city a perfect place to create a brand?
For me, it was easier to set up our business in Seoul because I was raised and I worked in Seoul so I have good network with fashion people. But when it was the time to choose the right place for our first store, our first priority is to make YUN as a global brand. Our spirit came from Seoul so it doesn’t really need to be in Seoul from the start. For our longterm vision to be a global brand, being located in an international city like Berlin for the first flagship store was more meaningful to us to have more chance to meet many people from all over the world – not only our customers but also people who can work with and cooperate with us. Also when we were in Berlin for market research, we found out that there are many young people setting up their startup companies. I felt like Berliners are very creative and open-minded. I loved the city’s vibrant mood and also wanted to be into it. YUN is a new concept of eyewear brand, which provides not only quality products but also incredible service, producing glasses in 20 mins. We thought Berlin – where people are always welcoming even to foreigners, where people do not hesitate to experience new things, we can feel inspirations in everywhere – would be a perfect test market for showing and verifying our new and cutting-edge concept.
8. What’s your ambition and goals for YUN?
Being recognized as a sole professional eyewear brand around the world. For over one year from the start, we’ve got many good reputations from customers all over the world. People who visited Berlin for vacation or business trip met YUN by some chance and after they experienced YUN they were really satisfied with our products and service. So we’ve been asked to open more shops in other cities around the world. Actually I couldn’t find any brand till now which takes care of its brand image at the same time professional optical service. We would love to show our incredible service and products to more people. Our business expansion plan to other areas is considered now and will be carried forward within next few years.
9. Is there a typical YUN customer and how does he/she look like?
Actually we have a wide range of customer base from teenagers to old age people. They cannot be categorized into one group because all has different personality, job, fashion taste, etc. YUN is a new type of eyewear brand compared to competitors, mostly focusing on only one direction – either fashion or technology. We are trying to be a cool fashion brand at the same time be true to the original function of an optical store. That’s why we are loved by both fashion-conscious young people and mid and old age professionals enthusiastic about cutting-edge technology.
10. Let’s say I want to establish my own brand. Can you give us some insider tips on how to form a brand?
I strongly believe that a brand is like a human. One’s personality and identity get stronger and he starts to exude his spirit as he ages, as he goes through a series of trials and errors. I was afraid of presenting YUN to the market at the first moment because I thought YUN needed more time to have a significant its own identity. I used to think that a brand has to be perfect and have a firm image from the start. But after I’ve been managing YUN, I found out that there was a gap between YUN as we think and ourselves actually people see us. It is natural that what we want to express through the brand is viewed differently than our intention to people and it affects ourselves unexpectedly.
Of course, a brand has to have a strong philosophy from the start. But once you have your own core value, sometimes it’s good to take the world as it is and see how people react, perceive and interpret you by themselves. A brand is formed by not only ourselves but also people around us. So do not afraid of presenting your brand even though you think it’s not perfect yet. The world will guide you where to go.
11. The YUN instore-lab is a quite outstanding concept, can you tell us how it works?
Thanks to the cutting-edge technology, final production process can be done in the store upon receipt of order. There’s a big spiral conveyor belt and at the end of the journey the edging machine is waiting for lenses to be cut. To make it happen, there were several things to be preceded.
Automated production system
We created an automated production system inspired by a conveyor belt system you can easily see in any manufacturing factories. Machine does many things so what our staffs have to do is just printing the work ticket, putting the lenses on the tray and scanning the barcode for stock verification. It’s very simple work.
It takes only few minutes to complete the journey. After the tray get out through exit, our staffs will insert the lenses and adjusting frames to customer’s face.
True collaboration of machine and human.
Our own calculation system
To edge lenses according to specific frame data, our system has to know all technical aspects of frames and lenses including 3 dimensional data in advance. With our own calculation system developed by ourselves, when the staffs enter the customer’s prescription it suggests the best lenses perfectly fit to the customer. With one click, a work ticket, where all customer, frame and lens information is saved, is printed and machine recognize how to cut lenses through this.
Huge lens storage
Over 10,000 of different lenses are stored in the shelf so that we can cover most of cases even the case people who have high myopia or hyperopia. With open in-store production, everything is clear and we wanted to show our technology and sincerity. One more good thing is people can enjoy their time by watching the production of their glasses during waiting for 20 minutes.
Normally people doubt the quality of glasses if they are completed so quickly. But we are very proud of what we made with the help of technology and we wanted to prove that the short production time doesn’t mean the quality cannot be guaranteed.
12. You offer glasses from 99 € which can be produced within 20 minutes. How can you guarantee the highest quality with such a low price?
One of the strong points of YUN is having our own production system. All lens production is done in Korea. That’s why we can keep the consistent high quality by controlling the quality of goods by ourselves. We always try to develop the highest quality of lenses, continuously putting our effort to search better material, improve coating technology and design tinting colors as well.
Also we design frames by ourselves and directly sell them only at our store. We’re not using other distributing channel so there’s no margin cost. Actually it was a prevalent custom among eyewear companies that they added up normally 2-3 times the cost on the retail price for distribution.
As we have sole our own channel, we can skim unnecessary distribution margin and customers can have the benefit: having high quality with a low price. It doesn’t affect the quality of the product at all because the reduced cost is merely from price bubble, not from the manufacturing cost. We can guarantee the quality of our products are better than other brands, thanks to my dad’s expertise and insight through his rich experience in the optical industry and our own quality management.