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December 5, 2023
We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Tom Kabbash. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Tom below.
Tom, we’re so excited for our community to get to know you and learn from your journey and the wisdom you’ve acquired over time. Let’s kick things off with a discussion on self-confidence and self-esteem. How did you develop yours?
Growing up in Venice Beach, surfing became the first thing where I really excelled. I gained recognition from my peers, competitions, and sponsors. When faced with the challenge of learning new things, such as design, I applied my experience of repetition and years of intense practice that I had learned from becoming a skilled surfer to the process of learning design.
Thanks for sharing that. So, before we get any further into our conversation, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and what you’re working on?
I have been involved in designing and creating brands within the eyewear industry for over two decades. My experience covers nearly every eyewear category, ranging from high fashion to high-performance eyewear, with manufacturing taking place in Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and China.
About four years ago, while holding a 3D printed part (non-eyewear), an image popped into my mind of a sunglass created from this material and process, produced by us here in the US.
The unrealized potential of 3D printing has been present for over 30 years, and today, it is starting to happen. We believe we are at the forefront of creating and delivering direct-to-consumer products crafted locally with the help of 3D printing.
After an extensive development and testing phase lasting over 2 to 3 years, I introduced Saunt Eyewear. It has been a dream come true for me. The ability to manufacture glasses locally has provided us with freedom from overseas factories, eliminating delays, duties, and shipping challenges. However, what I didn’t expect was the strong sense of community and valuable relationships we’ve built with local partners. By keeping manufacturing costs local, we not only streamline production but also support our local economy.
Looking back, what do you think were the three qualities, skills, or areas of knowledge that were most impactful in your journey? What advice do you have for folks who are early in their journey in terms of how they can best develop or improve on these?
Although I feel as though I am just beginning my journey, I have been on this path for a long time. I am grateful that I have followed my keen interests in ‘things’ since I was a kid. Guided by my passion for surfing I would always be in the shapers room when I was getting a new board – and there were many. I was fascinated by board design and the factory nearly as much as I loved to surf, which sparked me into the world of creating, designing, and building cool things.
Staying the course – life and work experiences have taught me that it takes time to learn about the various aspects involved in developing and launching a new product and brand. I began as a trained designer from school, got the opportunity to become a brand manager, learning marketing, sales, and what it takes to run a small to medium-sized business. It wasn’t until much later that I started my own company.
Lastly, perhaps it is how I define success – people measure success in different ways, taking every imaginable path to achieve it. I gauge my success by how I feel about what I am doing, how customers experience my work, the people I collaborate with and their experience working with me, and financial success – all contributing to how I measure success. All these areas are a work in progress!
How can folks who want to work with you connect?
One of the most exciting aspects of producing eyewear locally, in the manner that we do, is that it opens up opportunities for a broader range of people to get involved with eyewear design without facing substantial and costly barriers to entry. Over the initial two years of our business, we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with various individuals.
We teamed up with an artist based in Brooklyn, as detailed on our website. This artist was drawing glasses in his artwork, and together we created the Machinist style. The name pays tribute to his late father, who worked as a machinist.
Another instance, we enhanced one of our existing styles by adding intricate detailing to the arm, resulting in the Glide Ltd., a style inspired by a skater friend in San Francisco.
To create a collaborative style or a unique collection, certain minimum requirements must be met but again, the barrier to entry is very low. Our eyewear is distinct, made from 100% plant-based Castor Oil, has a unique organic surface, and feature a rich, earthy palette of colors.