Trendy, functional and designed for those who love outdoor adventures … we caught up with the Ballito-based co-founder of 30 South Eyewear, Jamie Cockayne, to find out how this exciting local brand is evolving.
Lifelong friends, adventure buddies and business partners, Jamie Cockayne and Richard Mcenery’s business, 30 South Eyewear, recently started selling the first fully-recycled high-performance sunglasses in the world.
It’s hard to believe, when you look at them, that these stylish sunnies – which are worn by both professional athletes and regular, outdoorsy South Africans – are made from recycled fishing nets and ocean plastic.
Although they launched the business in 2018, it has only been in the last six months that Jamie and Richard started transitioning towards becoming a fully-recycled and sustainable enterprise.
“We are both very ocean sensitive, having spent many years working, living and playing on and around the ocean,” says Jamie. “We’ve finally found our niche market and are excited to be transitioning our entire range to be made from reclaimed ocean waste.”
Both originally from England, Jamie and Richard grew up in Spain where they became friends at the age of 13. Going their separate ways after school (Richard joined the Royal Marines and Jamie went to university in London and then started working in professional football), the two mates stayed in touch and remained close over the years.
Looking to earn some extra money, Jamie decided to go and work on yachts. “I thought I would take a year off to go sailing and save up a bit – but I ended up spending eight years working on yachts,” he says. Richard, in the meantime, had established a successful marine security company.
It was while he was working in the yachting industry that Jamie met a South African girl named Lauren. The couple were married in 2017 and settled in Ballito. When Richard came to visit, the two of them started toying with the idea of starting a business.
“We’d been talking about owning an online sunglasses business for a few years. We are both very sporty, so we began researching eyewear for active, outdoor lifestyles in South Africa. There was a distinct gap in the market between really cheap sunglasses and the more expensive, high-end brands. We wanted to create something that was good quality, but still fairly priced.”
They sold their first pair of 30 South sunglasses in July 2018. “From the beginning, we wanted to be known for our excellent service and the fact that we offer a lifetime guarantee. We started with one shape in six different colours and our target market was outdoorsy South Africans, aged between 25 and about 60 years old.”
After a few years of figuring themselves out, Ballito-based Jamie and Richard (who now lives in Spain) took their business up a notch towards the middle of last year. They employed a few staff members and opened a retail space at Sage Centre in Umhlali. “We found our unique selling point and ‘niche’ by becoming a fully-recycled brand,” says Jamie.
“We want to be as sustainable and as local as we can be. Our frames are fully recyclable, but they are still manufactured in China as this is the only way we can keep within our price point at this stage. Everything is fully-traceable in terms of our recycling, though. It’s very important to us that we are taking plastic out of the ocean.”
Jamie and his team source recycled materials from a UK-based company that turns old fishing nets and ocean plastic into pellets. They send the pellets to their manufacturers in China. “It’s all above board and highly audited,” he says, “and we worked out that even with the carbon footprint involved in transportation, it’s still better for the environment than creating new products.”
Theirs are now the only sustainable sunglasses in the adventure lifestyle category in the world. So, who are these sunglasses made for, exactly? Pretty much anyone who does anything sporty outdoors … cycling, running, paddling … you name it. They have a number of top SA sportsmen (cricketers, golfers and paddlers) wearing their range, which is currently only available online (and at Holla Trails and House of Golf in Ballito).
As they turn their focus towards the global market, Jamie says they are considering having a few other stockists in South Africa. “We are very specific about our customer experience though, so we aren’t going to put our sunglasses just anywhere.”
Details: www.30south.co, @30south.co