THE FOUNDER OF BRIDGES & BROWS JOINS THE TRIBE
I met Lee purely by chance whilst walking along the very visually interesting Redchurch Street. We spoke for hours about the world of frames, the state of the industry and his motivation for doing what he does. One of the main ideologies he shared that stuck with me was his mission to support independent and smaller brands, and in his own small way defend against the mainstream giants that have a way of taking over and saturating the market. (We won’t mention any names here)
In his softly spoken and considered tone, Lee reframed my thinking on an item that I have been very fond of for many years and implanted some priceless knowledge in this unsuspecting passer by, who in turn became a customer and a huge fan! Thank you, Lee.
First steps into eyewear
I have always worked in the world of eyewear. I got into it through my father who used to work at Polaroid. I had been travelling. I came back and I’d started up a record label, and at the same time my father had been made redundant. He started up the business, and we worked together. I spent half my time doing music and half my time working with him. And that’s how I got into eyewear.
Into the world of music
I got into music as a teenager. Soul music, disco music. I grew up in St Albans, and we were a part of a scene up there, very much a kind of 80s soul scene: the Joyce Sims era, Run DMC era, Public Enemy era. Then I got more into rare groove and soul and disco, and I got into jazz and Dingwalls. Then of course along came dance music, and so that became my new thing, and lots of that kind of thing.
I met some great people through a shared love of a particular type of music. I love dancing. I think that when you all dance together to the same beat it brings you together because you lose yourself to what is happening there and then, so it’s very easy to make good connections with people. We’ve become very good friends, and we do things like get together and have mini festivals or go camping, so we’re all very close still.
We never made any money, it was purely for love. It was good fun. We released probably thirty records in the nineties. It was dance music, with lots of live instruments. Very disco influenced, a UK sound. That’s always been a love.
“I protect my family by loving them”
The first frame
I discovered this one frame that sparked my interest, and that was it. It was a large oversized aviator, in green, with really interesting little details on it. With these little hinges that pop out and pop back, and twist to fit all faces. Part of a ten-model series. Made by Carrera for Boeing, in 1985.
Something that I really enjoy about having the shop is that I really enjoy providing a service. I really like finding the perfect frame for an individual. Everybody’s different. I really enjoy spending a long time with people to find that right thing. I enjoy the interaction.
I know every frame in the shop. I know every frame that anybody has ever bought from the shop. I could probably recognise any frame that I’ve sold at any time. It’s true.
I was very shy and quiet as a young’un. And so I probably wouldn’t have seen myself doing this because I’d have felt I would’ve been too shy. But I worked through it.
I think the world is unfair. Human beings are going through a process of learning, and I think that very often, it’s all about money. But not everybody. Generally most people are good. I think that you have to be good to people. And help people whenever you can.
How do I protect the ones I love? I probably don’t do it enough. I’m probably way too open, probably suffer from being so open. I protect my family by loving them, endlessly. And I’m good to people. I’m good to my friends. I’m good to people that aren’t my friends. I try to understand people, where they’re coming from.
I think you’ve got two approaches to the world. One is driven by people having a personal relationship with people; wanting people to have a decent life. And you’ve got the money-driven corporate side to the world that is driven by profit; puts profit before people. So that’s maybe partly why I feel very strongly about doing independent products, and why I don’t support big business.
I think that we have an undying soul. I think you can align yourself with this world, by being very much in the present. And if you can do that completely, you can shake off your ego, and your ego is what seperates us all. So if we were all able, as a species, to move more towards shaking off our ego, we wouldn’t have the problems that we have.
Lee is featured as part of THE ORIGINAL CHAPTER