The founder of SafeStyle, Tim Lewis, shares the story of how his plumbing business and a glimpse of himself in the rear-view mirror sparked the creation of the world's first pair of stylish safety glasses certified to AS/NZS 1337.1.
Tim takes us through the early days of starting the company, including designing, manufacturing, and packing orders from his bedroom, and how he grew the brand with the help of his team of 30, aiming to educate people on the importance of wearing protective eyewear not only at work but also on the weekend!
HI MY NAME IS TIM LEWIS, I'M FROM PERTH WESTERN AUSTRALIA AND THIS IS MY JOURNEY
Where did the idea for SafeStyle come from?
Before I founded SafeStyle in 2018, I used to run my own plumbing business in Perth. One day while driving home from work, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear-view mirror and noticed the cheap, disposable safety glasses I had to wear every day. I thought to myself, I need to find some better-looking safety glasses.
It was a bit of a light bulb moment. I realised that there was a huge gap in the market for stylish and certified safety eyewear. I searched online but found nothing like it available worldwide. That then led me on my journey to start SafeStyle.
How did you start SafeStyle?
Once I had the idea it motivated me to see if it was possible to take on the giants of the safety eyewear industry.
First, I researched Australian safety standards and set my sights on creating the world's first pair of stylish safety glasses certified to AS/NZS 1337.1.
I engaged with many manufacturers and learned about the production process. I started with basic sketches that evolved into 2D and 3D drawings, followed by 3D-printed samples. Once I was satisfied with the final 3D print, I sought feedback from friends, which was overwhelmingly positive.
That’s when I pulled the trigger, I used my life savings to produce the first pair of SafeStyle safety glasses. I went over so many hurdles, sending thousands of emails regarding testing and certifying to then finally placing my first order over a year later.
The first website I created had one home page with three products featured, it was certainly nothing special, but hey, it worked. I had a few sales coming in and I honestly couldn’t believe all my hard work may have just paid off.
My first shipment arrived and I started to pick and pack orders from my bedroom.
I used to hand write each and every order in my bedroom, pack them with a piece of paper from the daily newspaper for padding to save on costs and waste, and take the daily orders down to the post office. At the start it was 1 or 2 a day, but within weeks I had started developing a reputation as the guy who would create the long lines in the Post Office at around 4:00pm every afternoon.
From there I quit plumbing to spend every waking hour on SafeStyle. In the early days it was difficult to keep up with demand on my own. Juggling all tasks from creating and designing the product, learning marketing, logistics and all the rest. Pretty quickly I realised I needed some support.
Once I let go of trying to do it all on my own and reached out for help that’s when things really took off.
Stylish safety glasses! The first of its kind.
Get behind-the-scenes look at SafeStyle HQ as Tracey Vo from Channel Nine joins us to chat about how it all started & what we have planned for the future.
Fast forward four years
We have now sold over 500,000 pairs, we are in over 500 retail stores. SafeStyle is now built of a team of 30 absolute legends I call my best mates and we have all worked together to build the brand we see today.
I have always wanted to create a brand that can give back to the community and I am really proud of our charity range. To date we have donated over $150k to charity, we have partnered with the likes of The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Lifeline and our newest partner is Lions Outback Vision.
The feedback from our customers has been insane, all the comments, photos, tags and likes on socials is pretty overwhelming to see. I am stoked to have such epic support from the SafeStyle community and I can’t wait to see this grow even more. SafeStyle wouldn’t be where we are today without everyones support, so i’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who purchased a pair, has told a friend, tagged us in their photos and spread the love!
What are your future plans?
To lead the eyewear industry to educate how important it is to wear protective eyewear not only just on the worksite but also on the weekend too.
We have received so many amazing reviews from saving eyes and lives, and believe it or not many of the injuries we have prevented have been from wearing SafeStyles on the weekend.
SafeStyle plan to keep scaling and push the boundaries in the retail space. We aim to expand further into global markets and continue partnering with charities and donating to local communities.Most importantly, the plan is to have fun along the way. We have so many epic projects in the pipeline I can’t wait to share it with you all.
THANK YOU TO ALL THE SAFESTYLER'S OUT THERE, YOUR SUPPORT IS REALLY APPRECIATED LEGENDS!
Check out the current SafeStyle range here.