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by Maëlle Viaouët
January 21, 2019

Interview with Victoria.L, founder of TSEEGAN (sunglasses made in France)

Victoria grew up in a family of opticians – a trait that may determine one’s career in glasses. For the last few months, she has made a home for herself in the world of glasses makers.

She styles herself as the creator and founder of a brand that she also owns: TSEEGAN. Her sunglasses are available through an exclusivity deal and can be found in her Soho, NYC shop.

She’s presenting here her brand, her trademark and her beliefs.

Victoria gave us this exclusive interview in which she reveals everything about her professional projects (almost everything…).

“Look and Read…”

the interview

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

You are today the creator of TSEEGAN, a sunglasses brand whose production is 100% made in France with passion. What has been the brand’s history? Where does its name come from? The bohemian inspirations? Is it linked to your family history: opticians from generation to generation?

VICTORIA

I am the daughter and the grand-daughter of opticians. My parents own a chain of optician’s shops. Ever since I was a girl, I used to repeat: « I will never work in the world of opticians ». And yet, every summer, I helped them (inventory management, collections, website). I steered a bit away from it by focusing on fashion and I made a path for myself by studying marketing, management and working as an assistant for Whitewall Magazine in New York.
Two years ago, I decided to create my brand. An apparel brand – that was the idea at first. And then, I thought about it. You can’t “bit the hand that feeds you”. I come from a family with a grandfather who started with nothing and who followed his ideas, and a father who is in charge of developing the family business.

At the end of the day, I decided to create a glasses brand. One thing to know: glasses are some of the most accessible luxury products, second only to fragrances – people can enjoy it without emptying their wallets. It was a way to go back to the family business by my own means. I therefore created my 100% handmade collection in France. I was looking for the French know-how. The Jura region is the birthplace of the glasses industry and the factory which produces my glasses is the last one to assemble acetate and metal. Nowadays, most of the made-in-France productions are gone, and great designers like François Pinton or Lafont are disappearing. The made-in-France label was thereby a challenge for me.

The word TSEEGAN comes from the word « tsigane », which means « a wayfarer », « a traveler ». There’s a pun with the English verb SEE, which refers to my own vision, my artistic direction, as well as to the look behind the glasses. When I was a student at Istituto Marangoni, eight years ago, we were tasked with creating a fashion brand including its name, its logo, and a business plan. I conceived a beachwear brand designed for destinations such as Saint-Tropez or Saint-Barth. Its style was both casual and smart. I registered the trademark at the INPI (the French National Institute of Industrial Property) eight years ago and I thought to myself: one day, I will do it.

This day happened and I took the name back, since I own it and it’s a lucky charm to me. Its name fits me: I’m lucky enough to be well-traveled and to have enjoyed far-away destinations. My slogan is actually about travel: « glasses inspired by my travels and designed for yours ». A pair of glasses is something you can bring everywhere, especially when travelling. The collection is inspired by my travels and designed for yours.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What’s been your path? You were born in Paris and you now live in NYC, so what happened between both?

VICTORIA

I graduated with a Bachelor and an MBA which I studied for in Paris and with evening classes. During the day, I used to work as a brand manager assistant for Zadig et Voltaire. One day, during the Fashion Week, I happened upon my former « future » boss, the founder of the Whitewall Magazine of « art & luxury lifestyle ». He offered me an internship in New York and I left it all overnight. It began like this. I worked for him for quite a while. We would organize events in various cities and I was in charge of setting up an insider guide showing off the best places all around.

My former boss, Michael Klug, is someone I really care about. Through his magazine, his contacts… He’s nowadays repaying me for all the work I did by his side.

I finally came back to Paris for a year, meaning to learn and work by my parents’ side and close to the glasses factories. I was also able to refocus and redefine my priorities.

I’ve been back in NYC for only three weeks and I opened a shop at 25, Prince Street. My glasses are showcased there and share the space with Soludos, a seven-year-old espadrille brand. At some point, the place will be redesigned into a concept-store. I would like to offer showcase space to some fresh-out-of-school French designers so that they can benefit from exposure in NYC. I believe helping each other is necessary in such a cruel world (I was lucky to get support for my own project). It’s my turn now to provide opportunities to these potentials.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

Do you have a specific way to create?

VICTORIA

I believe that we are the makers of our own reality. The more we think that we can achieve something, the more we actually do, if we take the necessary steps to do so. Nothing is free: we need to work for it. In life, one doesn’t face obstacles but challenges. We can’t always get yeses. We have to try again: nothing is lost. Everything changes. All the time.

The people I’ve met and the journeys I’ve been on are the reason I was able to open up and gain interest in more spiritual matters. I refocus and find energy thanks to yoga – it makes me creative. I also believe that one needs to share their ideas, because nobody has all the answers and we always, always need feedback.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What is creativity to you?

VICTORIA

Well… (uncertain). We all are artists if we can explain what we do (why we have made something that way and not the other way around). I took art and design classes at the Guggenheim Museum and I created various pieces, sometimes close to street art or to collage. At first, I was ashamed to present my paintings, but one day, the teacher asked me to display my art to the rest of the class and explain my artistic decisions. That’s creativity: being able to explain your choices.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

Why did you open a shop in NYC? And in Paris, soon?

VICTORIA

I believe that Paris relies too much on its « City of Fashion » reputation: it’s drowsy. To me, NYC is the real game changer: people are less cost averse here, they spend more. I lived in NYC for 3-4 years and my only goal was to go back there. Today, I have my own shop in Soho and my products can be found in France at the Montaigne Market and in other concept stores. I offer a high-quality product and I want its distribution to be exclusive. Even my own family doesn’t get to enjoy exclusivity!

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What would a typical Victoria-day look like?

VICTORIA

I don’t have a typical day or routine. I always begin my day with gym. Then, on to emails and order management. I stay at the shop all afternoon until 8pm. When I get home, time to cook – I love having people over – and to read.

These days, I’m reading Robert T. Kiyosaki ‘s Rich Dad Poor Dad, who explains the legacy a father can have regardless of his fortune, and the differences between both those material situations. Afterwards, I go to sleep, and the following day, it all starts over differently. I always keep my motto in mind: « going with the flow » – each day is a brand-new day.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What’s your motto (which you repeat all arond you) ?

VICTORIA

I very much like « go with the flow » and « your reality is what you make of it ». Those are sayings which I like to recall, and repeat to myself. There’s also this Richard Branson quote, a quote my father is also very fond of: « everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear ».

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

You live in NYC. Where do you go out? What place would best define you (where you feel at home) ? And in Paris?

VICTORIA

I used to go out a lot, lot, lot… Now? Noticeably less (laughs). My favorite restaurant is an Italian place near my home, Via Carota. You need to queue, but the food is so exquisite that it’s worth it. In Paris, I like to visit my gym coach: it’s the first thing I do when in town. She helps me refocus.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What could we find on your desk? Is it rather tidy or messy? What objects have a life of their own on it? Does it mean anything?

VICTORIA

My desk is most often a mess, but I know my way around it. Sometimes, I tidy everything up. You may spot around a piece of energy wood: some palo santo. I fill the whole room every night with its smoke so that it permeates it with a nice scent. This stick is a nod to my character’s « personal development ».

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What type of sunglasses do you wear and why?

VICTORIA

I change them everyday. I wear a bit of everything. There’s one that has been named after me and that I use more often. Before, I used to be partial to FENDI. Now, to TSEEGAN.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What does the future hold for TSEEGAN? A new collection? Some secret we could share around?

VICTORIA

I have to start designing the new collection and I’m a bit late, but it isn’t going to lag much longer though! The last few weeks have been quite busy with the shop’s opening. I would like to launch one collection a year. A secret to share? Well, it’s not really one: I only wear prototypes, with a flaw that I’m the only one to spot (there’s either a missing logo or a wrong glass color).

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

One last word?

VICTORIA

Good luck to Diane for her project. She has my support. She is someone who is ready to fight for what she believes in, who doesn’t lounge on a counch waiting for things to get done. We both have ideas. We both think outside of the box, we are travelers, we are independent!