Practice owners launch ready-readers range
Kay McFarlane and Michael Holmes with their newly launched Vital ready readers

Practice owners launch ready-readers range

June 5, 2024 Susanne Bradley

Michael Holmes and Kay McFarlane, the optical duo behind Auckland practice Michael Holmes Premium Eyewear, have launched their own collection of ready readers available wholesale to practices and direct to consumer.


“Vital Eyewear was born from our own frustrations, the inability to source stylish and affordable off-the-shelf reading glasses that met the expectations of our valued clientele,” said McFarlane. The team regularly encounters clients who don’t need complex corrective lenses, she said. “We thought, ‘why are we sending these people away?’ But we don't want to be trying to talk people into buying $1,000 glasses they don’t need, so we felt there's a gap in the market here. Optometrists need a ready reader that is a quality product available at an affordable price.”


In their search for a solution, they found their choices were limited to either gaudy designs or poor quality construction, or both,” she said. “So, with Michael’s extensive optical expertise and my experience with frame styling and fitting, we knew we had the insight to create the kind of high-quality frames our clients were looking for.”


In 2021, the Covid-19 lockdown provided the opportunity the couple needed to turn their ideas into sketches, creating frames that were design-led, contemporary, comfortable and sustainable. Having enlisted help from their Barcelona-based, Kiwi eyewear designer, who turned their sketches into detailed designs ready for production, they then researched and investigated the right Chinese production facility that could meet their needs. “We had four different companies lined up. But before we got to that point, we did a lot of shopping around to find the right people for our product. This was critical because if you go down the wrong track with a factory that isn't reliable and conscientious, and doesn't understand what you're trying to do, you end up with 20,000 useless pieces,” said McFarlane, adding they’ve been impressed with the Chinese craftsmanship. “These people are skilled; they know how to do mass production in a very good way and to a high standard. It has blown our minds.”


Considering the environmental impact of their product was also important to them when crafting the collection, said McFarlane. “The optical industry isn’t renowned for its light carbon footprint, particularly when it comes to poorly constructed ready readers often designed for disposable use.” After more research, the pair discovered a certified recycled plastic material suitable for frames made from repurposed discarded water bottles and food containers. “While the ready readers are made from material that would have otherwise ended up in landfill, the key message here is that these frames shouldn't be thrown away. They are designed to last and are really durable; just made from a cheaper material than acetate. And because we've made so many of them, wearers can afford to have multiple pairs,” she said.


Holmes and McFarlane are optimistic their concept will appeal to the region’s optoms. “We’re hoping some optometrists in New Zealand and Australia will take it up. We’ll also be putting them into gift shops, but optometrists are missing out if we’re always referring people there,” said McFarlane.


Feedback from their own clients has been very positive, said Holmes. “People are telling us the readers look amazing and are exactly what they want, especially the chunkier ones.”


Their Vital Eyewear ready readers retail at $95 and come in a box made from forest-friendly cardboard and a recycled vinyl cloth.