An Interview with Mr. Jeffery Yau, Founder & CEO of PUYI OPTICAL
How PUYI OPTICAL Defines 'Luxury'
Unlike other accessories, optical glasses are indispensable devices for people who need clear sight. While some people choose their eyewear solely for its functionality, others long for eyewear products that offer not just a perfect vision experience, but also an opportunity to express their unique personality and style, and they are willing to invest more money into their purchases to achieve their goals.
"When I started my business, people questioned its practicality – how many people would be willing to buy eyewear at such steep prices?" PUYI OPTICAL CEO and founder Mr. Jeffery Yau says. "But I am convinced that this is not a question of high or low prices. Customers are very smart. As long as you offer high-quality products and services, they will be willing to pay for them. That is how the market works. More and more brands are launching luxury eyewear products onto the market because there is a demand for them. However, it is not enough merely to meet existing needs. You have to stay ahead of the market by introducing new concepts and functions. In the past two decades, many brands and models have made amazing breakthroughs. Products may seem similar, but are actually different when you look into them."
Eyewear design, production and craftsmanship requires immense skill and expertise, Mr. Yau says. He also believes that it is of great importance to create eyewear that offers a comfortable wearing experience, is customised to match its wearer's everyday needs, and ensures clear, bright vision.
"We strive to provide our customers with a wide range of premium products so that they can find ones that are tailored to their individual needs", Mr. Yau says. "To achieve this, customer-centric service is crucial. In addition to being professional and maintaining a positive relationship with our customers, we must go the extra mile by offering them truly exceptional service. I believe that elevating everything to a new level – from products and services to customer experience – is the cornerstone of luxury."
Twenty Years of Change and Innovation in the Luxury Eyewear Market
Twenty years ago, PUYI OPTICAL began with one shop in Hong Kong. Now, it has expanded its business across Greater China, with stores in 23 major cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau, and Taipei, all offering customers a distinguished, all-around luxurious experience. As its business network has expanded, PUYI OPTICAL has prioritised advancing the importance of eyewear and sharing that passion with customers to spark their interest in eyewear fashions and designs. Throughout this development, PUYI OPTICAL has collaborated with a variety of fashion brands, luxury brands and eyewear specialists. In all of these ways, PUYI OPTICAL has driven changes in the luxury eyewear market, and the impressive results are self-evident.
"We have witnessed dramatic changes across the industry over the past two decades", Mr. Yau notes. "Today, people are paying more and more attention to their eyewear. Several internationally renowned fashion brands which formerly focused solely on clothes, accessories, shoes and bags now include eyewear in their top product profiles. At PUYI OPTICAL, we are honoured to have forged close partnerships with these brands."
Mr. Yau continues, "Since the beginning, we have drawn upon our personal experience and customer feedback to help us continually improve our products and services. I am exceptionally proud of the recognition we have earned from internationally acclaimed brands, who see PUYI OPTICAL as an ideal partner for their eyewear. Our relationship with these brands goes beyond buying and selling. It starts with product development and continues through marketing and promotion, introducing their concepts and stories to customers, as well as after-sales service. It has taken us a lot of time and effort in these partnerships, and that is why we are now the preferred partner for many brands. I think that's one of our biggest achievements."
The Key to a Good Partnership Is Mutual Appreciation and Trust
In terms of collaborations and partnerships, luxury eyewear retailer PUYI OPTICAL offers a wide range of eyeglasses across different categories from high-end brands. Most of these brands are long-term partners with countless styles and types of eyewear. Among them are a number of eyewear brands from internationally famous fashion groups who have made great advances in aesthetics and craftsmanship in recent years.
"Top-class eyewear brands are very creative and demanding", Mr. Yau says. "Our partners don't stop at a certain point and coast on their successes. Instead, they regularly introduce new elements into the market. As their partner, we must first fully understand the features of these new products, add in PUYI Group's experience, and then introduce them to our customers in detail. The entire operation is a process of continuous learning and progress. This is a big challenge, so we don't have time to waste comparing ourselves to others. That's what I often tell my colleagues – fulfilling our own duties is fundamental!"
PUYI OPTICAL and its international partners have always strived to challenge and surpass expectations. For example, LOTOS is a luxury jewellery eyewear brand from Germany with a history that dates back over a hundred years. They are famous for their use of diamonds and their hand-carved engravings, frequently pairing them with bold new designs that showcase innovation while keeping their traditions alive.
Some top international fashion brands with long histories and strong market positions, such as the renowned American brand CHROME HEARTS and Italian luxury brand GUCCI, go beyond integrating their unique style and personality into their designs. By increasingly focusing on enhancing eyewear comfort, wearability and incorporating more premium handcrafted materials, they have become highly sought after by celebrities and fashionistas alike.
GENTLE MONSTER, a playful and imaginative fashion brand from Korea, is another of PUYI OPTICAL's long-term partners. Their eyewear infuse creativity and unique charm with premium quality at an affordable price, making them an attractive option for many young people.
In summarising PUYI OPTICAL's history of collaborations with these brands, Mr. Yau observes, "In these past 20 years, PUYI OPTICAL has worked with some of the best eyewear brands around the world, and I am honoured to have had the opportunity to collaborate with them. All international brands have their individual business models and are cautious about building relationships with others. However, when demanding brands wish to develop a demanding market, they always partner with PUYI OPTICAL and are willing to offer us a lot of flexibility and room for development. These mature and close partnerships empower PUYI OPTICAL to offer our customers an extraordinary experience. Along the way, we have learned a lot from each of our partners, and developed a deeper understanding of their different customer profiles and product lines."
Striving for Perfection While Keeping Clients' Needs in Mind
According to Mr. Yau, customer service is at the heart of everything that PUYI OPTICAL does, and satisfying customers' different needs can present a lot of challenges.
Mr. Yau believes that an excellent retail brand, especially a high-end or premium brand, should provide a unified and consistent experience across its entire service network, while still ensuring that every encounter is fresh and engaging, which is a challenging task. As PUYI OPTICAL continues to mature and develop, Mr. Yau hopes that every shop he opens will be even better than the last one in every tiny detail, from its interior design and state-of-art equipment, to the different brands integrated in the overall experience. The challenge, he adds, is to be true to yourself.
"We put a lot of thought and effort into every aspect of our service from the moment a customer steps through our door – meeting our staff, seeing our products, exploring the store's décor and layout, and even experiencing a professional eye exam to determine which eyewear best meets their individual needs. We strive to gain a deep understanding of our customers' needs so that we can recommend suitable, high-quality products and services that stand out above our competitors in the industry."
In order to accomplish this, extremely knowledgeable and proficient support staff is required. For this reason, PUYI OPTICAL provides its front-line employees with a wide range of optical technical training and optical know-how to share with clients. To ensure all-rounded and personalised service, PUYI OPTICAL complements these trainings with cooperation and coordination from marketing, product development and other departments.
According to Mr. Yau, true success must come from the heart. Under his leadership and influence, Mr. Yau has developed an entire PUYI OPTICAL team that is passionate and wholeheartedly devoted towards eyewear and the industry. But as mentioned before, providing customers with luxury service does not happen overnight. Over the years, PUYI OPTICAL has accumulated an abundance of experience and built a team of talented professionals whose collective efforts motivate them to strive for perfection in every aspect. For Mr. Yau and his team, customer satisfaction is what makes it all worthwhile. By focusing on understanding each customer's needs, they can make professional, personalised recommendations for good products and services. Ultimately, running an optical business is much more challenging than many would assume. In addition to being a profession, it is a sense of art, fashion and luxury.
Moreover, as a high-end eyewear brand dedicated to offering exceptional customer service, PUYI OPTICAL believes that customers’ demands towards luxury eyewear go beyond a frame made with premium materials and design. They also long for eyewear that are perfectly tailored for their vision needs. For this reason, Mr Yau says, offering professional eye examinations and advanced vision care is as important as a diverse selection of premium eyewear. Hence, PUYI OPTICAL has partnered with German optical pioneer ZEISS to offer comprehensive eye exams and vision care services to customers, using ZEISS's advanced vision technologies and equipment. As ZEISS's global eyewear partner, PUYI OPTICAL can introduce these innovative and state-of-art technologies to the market, where customers can access and understand them first-hand.
The Key to Remaining on Top of the Game is to Stay True to Yourself
To further expand PUYI OPTICAL's business, the group introduced its first-ever house brands, PUYI PROJECT and PUYI LINE. About six years ago, Mr. Yau was questioned for not launching his own eyewear brand. This is due to his high expectations and belief that PUYI OPTICAL’s house brands should not be inferior to any other luxury brand currently on the market, so it was important to him to first invest his time and effort in identifying an appropriate manufacturing team. After locating and partnering with a good, high-quality eyewear manufacturing team in Japan, PUYI OPTICAL began product development, culminating in the recently launched PUYI PROJECT and PUYI LINE. As the design and production team further matures, Mr. Yau believes that PUYI OPTICAL will continue to bring more exceptional PUYI house products to the world.
PUYI OPTICAL's Vision for the Luxury Eyewear Market
Regarding PUYI OPTICAL's vision for the future, Mr. Yau says, "We hope to raise public awareness on eyewear, especially by leveraging state-of-art technologies like digitisation. We have invested a lot of time and resources into research and development in this area, including e-Commerce. In addition, we have incorporated a variety of the latest technologies into the design and functionality of the eyewear. For example, with advanced eye examination equipment, we can produce lenses that not only offer precise vision, but can also be customised to match the eye curvature of each individual. This allows us to create lenses that provide more precise and enhanced vision, compared to traditional methods. By incorporating science and technology, we look forward to introducing more new products in the years to come. Smart eyewear have taken centre stage in recent years, and I believe they will be of great help to our industry as technology further advances. Many of our customers are seeking glasses that can aid their daily lives, while making a bold and elegant statement regarding their unique personality. In fact, many of our customers are eyewear collectors. They love to share different sides of their personality when they are at and off work. But most importantly, they are captivated by the art of eyewear. Every pair of our glasses represents a harmonious combination of art and science, and I hope to further explore and showcase this industry in the future."
Special Projects to Celebrate
PUYI OPTICAL's 20th Anniversary
"This year, we will launch a lot of special projects in collaboration with various brands. In the first quarter of the year, we launched PUYI OPTICAL 20th anniversary collaborations with GENTLE MONSTER, CHROME HEARTS and GUCCI EYEWEAR, and we will soon launch even more collaborations with renowned brands, including 999.9, LINDA FARROW, LINDBERG, and LOTOS. In short, we have many attractive happenings and surprises in store for our customers."
Encouraged By His Better Half to Always Do His Best
At many of PUYI OPTICAL's past events, Mr. Yau has often been accompanied by his wife, Dr. Margaret Lee. In fact, there are several paintings on display at PUYI OPTICAL's flagship store at 1881 Heritage, Tsim Sha Tsui, all created by Dr. Lee, giving the store an aesthetic and glorious finish. As intimate partners, Mr. Yau and Dr. Lee naturally influence each other's lives and values. For Mr. Yau, his better half is his primary source of encouragement, constantly driving him to aim high in his personal life and career.
"My wife, Dr. Lee has a Ph.D. degree, and is deeply knowledgeable in many areas, such as literature and art. She has given me a lot of guidance and advice throughout my career, and has made it easier for me to run the business. She constantly reminds me to set high standards not to prove to others, but to challenge and improve myself. This applies to both my relationships with family, as well as my customers."
"In a nutshell, it is important to always strive to do better", Mr Yau says. "I view this as a responsibility, one that is particularly true for luxury businesses. It is essential to constantly do your best to achieve an excellent, satisfactory outcome. I believe this is why some people cannot manage luxury brands as they are too easily satisfied with minimal progress . But historically, no brand that rests on its laurels can stay ahead in the market. On the contrary, success can only be achived by continuously seeking out new opportunities to improve and change."
Through Mr. Yau’s informative and interesting sharing, we believe our readers will gain a comprehensive glimpse into PUYI OPTICAL's past, present and future. Stay tuned to find out more about the hints that Mr. Yau shared regarding upcoming 20th Anniversary collaborations, because more exceptional styles are on their way to delight PUYI OPTICAL's customers and eyewear collectors alike!