Northern Startups: Scarlett of Soho, the world’s first designer eyewear subscription service

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by David Prior

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Scarlett-of-Soho-LogoStartup: Scarlett of Soho

What is it? The world’s first designer eyewear subscription service

Founders: YC Ng and Yee Mun Thum

Based: Newcastle

Founded: 2015

Launched in January, Scarlett of Soho is the world’s first designer eyewear subscription service. For £10 a month, subscribers can change their designer prescription glasses whenever they want - and are promised speedy replacements if they lose, damage or break them.


YC and Yee Mun say it was the lack of a premium option in the market that convinced them to enter the competitive glasses market. "We researched other industries and realised that glasses could and should be fast fashion, to cater to a certain type of demographic," they said. "And the idea of glasses as a service was born, because we think people should have the luxury of choice, but not at the expense of their wallets."

The pair spend 80% of their time in Newcastle, where they're part of the Ignite 100 accelerator programme, and say they'll be there "for the foreseeable future" as it's a "great place to build a startup". They have rapid expansion plans, and are hoping to work with partners in other industries as it's "definitely the way to build everyone up for the long-term". They are speaking with investors, although do not have firm fundraising plans in place as yet.

Recently, Scarlett of Soho was one of three (out of 500) chosen for a 30-minute mentoring session with Richard Branson, courtesy of Virgin Startup. Any particular takeaways from that? "It was a slightly surreal experience," says Yee Mun, "but I think the most memorable piece of advice we took away was, 'never turn down a sale'.”

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