This freelance eyewear designer saw a gap in the industry and opened her own studio


Selin olmsted

THE WANTS to help others look their best for Selin Olmsted; As a child in Turkey, she designed collections of clothing in sticks for her mother. The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate later created men’s clothing for labels in New York City before embarking on eyewear design, spending several years with Warby Parker. She went on her own in 2015 and established the Selin Olmsted Design Studio in New York City, now in its sixth year of providing independent design and product development services for Raen, Article One and Oscar de la Renta. . Olmsted shares his experience creating the studio and his thoughts on the design process and current eyewear trends, among other topics.


During his time at Warby Parker, Olmsted realized how few designers there are in the United States with the training, knowledge and experience to create and develop new styles of eyewear. “It’s shocking, but there isn’t a fashion or design school that teaches eyewear design, even though it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. You kind of have to fall into it from somewhere else. Conversations with industry figures convinced her of the need for an independent studio. “The industry is hungry for designers, especially in the United States,” says Olmsted. “When this idea came to me, I decided to create a small eyewear studio. “



The first step was to meet potential clients and assess the need for the type of business she had in mind. Convinced that she was on the right track, she took three or four months to set up the business, redesign her portfolio, create a website and focus on business development. “Receiving my first project brought me joy and confidence,” she recalls. Very quickly, brands contacted her for projects, which allowed her to hire a small team.

With these early clients, Olmsted’s goal was “to deliver too much on every project and make myself indispensable, which my team and I are still trying to do to this day.” Its basic process begins with getting to know the customer and their brand, their specific goals and the target market. “Knowing and knowing the brand’s customers is crucial.

The Selin Olmsted team is working


Working with a variety of brands requires flexibility, but Olmsted is able to deliver a stylistic change – albeit to varying degrees – to almost any client. She sees current eyewear trends as polarized, with an appetite for “feather-like, super thin and light materials” coexisting with “assertive silhouettes, more weight, more rim height, more effect. 3D and volume ”. She is also determined to ensure that the industry sees sustainability as more than a fad.

This year, the studio tested a new business model, offering comprehensive services including not only product design and development, but also sourcing, production, packaging and importing. “It was a great experience. We did a first batch to test ourselves… and we are very happy with the result of the project. “



There are a lot of things Olmsted loves about what she does; and not least, it’s simply having the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people: “Not only amazing creatives who have a different perspective on things, but also gifted, talented, intelligent and kind people, entrepreneurs, professionals and people with new ideas. She also finds it personally rewarding to have created a work environment in which others can feel fulfilled. And in tough times, she’s grateful for being able to help the companies and teams she admires, as well as donating executives to essential workers and those in need.


Do it yourself: Thoughts on Selin Olmsted’s Eyewear Design

  • STEP BY STEP. “While learning to design eyewear, invest time in learning the different stages of making eyewear… If it isn’t beautifully designed, good design is useless. “
  • THE CUSTOMER FIRST. Remember that the client, even if they are not an expert, will always have an idea of ​​which styles are suitable for them. “Think outside the box … while knowing this [they’re] comfortable wearing.
  • STAY RELEVANT. Exploring new perspectives is wonderful, while being aware of the technical feasibility. “Trends are changing in eyewear. They evolve. Openness to change is one path to relevance.
  • BE SUSTAINABLE. Olmsted urges ECPs to seek environmentally friendly business ideas. For an optician, for example, bringing their customers’ disused glasses back to life could be a formidable and creative business model.
  • FIND THE NEED. If you are considering launching an eyewear brand, tackle an unexplored niche or price category, or solve a problem in the industry. “I don’t recommend that you launch a brand in an over-exploited and crowded segment of the industry.”


Luz W. German