Student launches sustainable eyewear brand with Jake Humphrey

A University of East Anglia (UEA) student who creates designer glasses and sunglasses from fishing nets rescued from the ocean has received the backing and financial investment from TV personality Jake Humphrey. Together they have launched products which are available for pre-order via Kickstarter today (30 June).

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and TV personality, Jake Humphrey, has got behind UEA student George Bailey’s business, Coral Eyewear, after he was inspired by the 20-year old’s ambition and vision for sustainable eyewear.

The brand has today launched its first range of designer glasses and sunglasses via Kickstarter, with every pair created from ocean plastic and fabric from landfill. Early supporters of Coral Eyewear will benefit from exclusive prices and complimentary prescription lenses by pledging to the campaign which runs until 30 July.

Jake said: “Coral Eyewear has the opportunity to change how we see the entire eyewear industry. It’s unacceptable that almost all of the 9 million of pairs of glasses and sunglasses sold in the UK every year use virgin plastic. Coral uses recycled fishing nets instead- it’s genius!”

“People are becoming increasingly aware of how small steps in the right direction will help with climate change. And because Coral Eyewear are beautifully designed and handmade, we prove that you can still look good without damaging the planet.”

600,000 tonnes of fishing nets are thought to be abandoned in our oceans every year, taking up to 600 years to break down. During this time, tiny fragments called micro plastics are ingested by animals and World Animal Protection estimates just one abandoned net entangles 30-40 marine animals per year.

George said: “By investing in our Kickstarter campaign, you’re joining the early stages of a business that is focused on making a significant environmental and social impact.

“To meet global sustainability goals, we have to develop the circular economy. Rescuing and regenerating plastic waste is a great first step, but what makes our business unique within the industry is the frame recycling scheme which should turn off the plastic tap.”

The Coral Eyewear frames are injection moulded using ECONYL, pellets of recycled nylon created from regenerated ocean fishing nets and fabric scraps from landfill. The ECONYL process reduces the global warming impact of nylon by 80% when compared with the material from oil and instead of adding environmentally-damaging lacquer, gloss or varnish, the frames are tumbled for smoothness. 

The team, which includes George’s dad with more than 30 years of experience in the eyewear industry, hopes their frames will be infinitely recycled with those needing new pairs able to send their frames back for recycling with 10% off the next order.

George has already been approached by a number of large retailers and independent opticians who want to stock the product in their stores, and he is launching a campaign on Kickstarter today to help scale-up production.

This is not the first time Jake has supported students at UEA, in 2018 together with his wife Harriet he launched a scholarship Film, Television and Media Studies for a student from a low-income household to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Jake said: “Norfolk is packed with smart, driven, creative young people like George.”

“I wasn’t particularly successful at school but many of the opportunities that have come my way have been a result of people investing in me as a person, taking a risk and believing in me. It is time to pay it forward.”

Jake is now one of the UK’s leading sports broadcasters, presenting for BT Sport and more recently turning his hand to podcasting with The High Performance Podcast. He has a successful Production company called Whisper and is Trustee of Norwich Community Sports Foundation and Vice President of Clic Sargent. He was awarded an honorary degree by UEA in 2012.

George first started Coral Eyewear in 2019 with the help of the UEA Student Enterprise Service and investment from the University’s Enterprise Fund ‘Scale It’ award of £50,000.

He has recently been accepted onto a brand new ‘Year in Enterprise’ course pioneered by the School of Economics which allows him to focus on his business full-time for the next 12 months. This is the first-of-its-kind at UEA and is different to the well-established ‘Year in Industry’ courses where students often work for large corporations. This will allow him to develop Coral Eyewear as well as enhancing his entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.

George employs two UEA students as interns and he hopes to launch a Climate Change scholarship which will offer students the financial security to carry out planet-positive research.

Visit the Kickstarter page to find out more and watch Coral Eyewear’s video.


Study economics at UEA