It's a huge cliché, but a lot of things happened here in one year. More than ever before, at Yuma Labs it was a true rollercoaster. The past few months we have been driving in high gear and some significant changes have taken place. Every week we tweaked and fine-tuned our business model, received hours of well-intentioned advice, drank uncooled beers during far too many brainstorms, and dreamt in sizzling hot temperatures of recycled waste-plastics, polarized lenses and growth marketing. We are very grateful to everyone who supported us last year and are happy to share with you the following overview of 2019, with both the good and the bad things that hit us. Let us take you through our lessons learned and most enjoyable moments of this year...
This summer we launched our second collection for which we designed five new iconic designs. We welcomed “One Day”, “Touch of madness”, “Walk with me”, “Rebel nr 5” and “Right Back” into our range. We had a lot of fun inventing names for each design. Follow us on Instagram to find out what the names stand for. With our new total of 9 designs we enforce our bespoke Yuma Labs style, and on top of that each model is still unisex.
Since the launch of our new collection, we have coded each pair of glasses with a unique code, better know as our “Origin Trace”. This gives you full transparency in the raw materials of a pair of glasses, the production method and the location. By being transparent in our use of materials and production methods, we want to emphasise the responsibility we all carry and which is required to evolve towards a fully circular system. Every citizen is responsible for the products he or she buys, and with this unique code we also want to offer a solution at the end of life of the glasses. With the code we give customers access to our "Closed Loop Recycling process". What does this stand for? As you know we start from post-consumer waste plastics and transform these into iconic high-end sunglasses. Through a deposit return fee we incentivize the customer to return the sunglasses (after a minimum use-period), so we can recollect the sunglasses and the materials to be recycled 100% once again. Are you a fan of the first hour and owner of glasses from the first collection without code? Contact us for your origin trace. Another step closer to a circular economy!
Together with a fun group of motivated children we collected plastic from the river Scheldt in Antwerp. Thanks to this limited-edition collection we issued for the event, Antwerp became a bit more beautiful. Did you know that you can make one pair of sunglasses out of just one bottle? Thanks to Stormkop for the great cooperation! Which city follows suit?
Read here: in dutch. We had the opportunity to represent Belgium at The Creative Business Cup in Copenhagen. We ended up in the top 10 of best candidates! It was a great networking opportunity where we could benchmark and share our future plans with hundreds of other creative entrepreneurs. Check out the pictures here.
We made some exclusive limited editions for Us By Night, which is an international design and creativity event organised in Antwerp, Belgium. We formed collabs with Shawna X (@shawnax), Toykyo (@esthertoykyo) and Mellon (@mellongwen) for the graphic designs. The frame models themselves were inspired by The Inuit. They made the very first sunglasses out of walrus bone to protect their eyes against snow-blindness. 2.000 years later we 3D printed our 21st century interpretation of this traditional design, using recycled PET bottles.
The challenges are greater than ever before: waste mountains are rising rapidly, global leaders are withdrawing from climate agreements and producers and users continue to consume linearly. Yuma Labs clearly needed extra strength, and was joined by two new partners during the hot summer months. Roald and Lenja will take Yuma Labs to a new level and increase the steps towards a circular society, yay! Of course, Sebastiaan is still leader of the pack, focussing on the production & design process and making sure all plates keep spinning. From left to right: Roald Duchateau, Sebastiaan de Neubourg, Lenja Doms
Roald and Lenja had been fans of Yuma Labs for some time. Roald had some side projects in which he shared knowledge and inspiration with Sebastiaan. He has been working on innovatively repurposing recycled plastics for several years. Lenja has been reading the business plans of Yuma Labs for several months. Together we form a new, permanent, complementary team where entrepreneurship, technical knowledge, product development and ambition must guarantee a sustainable future for Yuma Labs. Our joint mission to scale up the business using the objectives and methods of the circular economy. The responsibility over our environment brought us together. By making high end, quality sunglasses and making people realize the opportunity of waste, we believe we can make an impact from the bottom up. The most important lesson in this team expansion : Why haven't we done this before! And oh yes... Thank God we had the right legal help in this important step. Wanna say hi to our dream team and meet our fantastic freelancers? (we love you Helena, Christophe and Yves!) Visit us at our microfactory at Plein Publiek (Antwerp) & let’s have a coffee together.
We launched our first collection in 2017 and were the first to have 3D printed sunglasses from recycled plastics. (still pretty proud about that one)... The manufacturing through 3D printing enabled us to print on demand (yay no overstock!), and we were able to experiment with limited editions, new designs and new materials. But large print runs are challenging (it takes about 3.5 hours to print on one pair of glasses!)... We were asked several times by organizations to print larger quantities and realized that we really needed to look for a new production method. 2019 will be remembered as the year of continuous and painstaking R&D sessions, but we are very happy that we can start the new year with a fully proven and operational new production method. We will still work with recycled materials, but we can now produce much larger quantities, and achieve even greater accuracy and quality specs. As a result, more people will be able to wear our glasses. The coming year we expect to start some awesome collaborations, soon more news about that. Are you an organization that is looking for a “true” circular story? Contact us!
Thanks to our new production method, we are opening the door to a wider group of customers. Over the past few months, we have been working hard on a sustainable strategy to address this. We wouldn't be able to claim the title 'startup' if a search for funding hadn't been on our agenda (thanks Jonas from The Harbour for your great help!). Shit just got serious! From the start of our company, we have had a global mindset and we are eagerly awaiting the first results of our international business development. World domination here we come!