Alicia Hartman opened Eye Q in 2011 at the luxury location Limegrove Lifestyle Center on Barbados platinum west coast, a shopping hot spot featuring luxury fashion stores – Vuitton, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. Despite a worldwide recession at the time, the shop quickly became the leading independent optical boutique on the island. In 2018, the owner launched her own independent sunglasses label, PFB (Peoples from Barbados) dedicated to the Bajan community and its unique all-embracing lifestyle, filled with warmth, colour and natural style.
“Many people thought I was crazy to take on a project of this scale with no experience in retail, marketing and management,” explains Alicia Hartman with a smile. But with the support of her husband Sam and family she achieved what she set out to do, “with passion and love”.
Alicia set out to offer personalized stylist consultations offering the best eye care with a stylistic approach and a laid back yet professional atmosphere. “Initially we brought the world to Barbados through a combination of designer and independent brands,” she explains. “From day one, I preferred independent brands, but I did incorporate some of the well known designer brands as crowd pleasers.”
Over the years she gained the trust of clients and was able to focus on creative independent brands. With this came Peoples from Barbados in 2017, Alicia’s own collection of sunglasses. “The shop has a real purpose beyond eyewear and I’m excited. It’s as if we’re taking Barbados, the people and the culture to the world through a truly unique colorful understated and glamorous collection!”
The store itself offers a clean minimal space designed to showcase the frames – with Caribbean flair, and a personal playlist of music that reflects the owner’s love for travel and other cultures. “Initially there were wall decals of different people in glasses. We referred to them as the #eyeqpeoplez with a “z”. In Barbados “my peoples or my people” is a connecting phrase, to make someone feel a part of something special. The idea was always to have a personalized stylistic approach bringing people together in Barbados, regardless of there class or colour – and with one thing in common: “great taste in glasses and the desire to be unique and stand out from the crowd”.
Today a few things have changed. “To liven up the minimal space there are life size black and white portraits of beautiful Bajan faces in PFB eyewear by local photographer Adrian Richards. We wanted to showcase the real Barbados – not just the “postcard images”.”
This season, the collections in the store include independent brands from different cities around the world. “On an island, it’s important to do that! The demographic here ranges from aristocrats to fishermen to artists and celebrities.”
When I select designs I have a specific client in mind. I must offer glamour (Linda Farrow / UK), colour (theo /Belgium) , and technological sophistication (Mykita / Germany). With the Peoples from Barbados collection, we can also offer our own distinctive DNA ‘with Bajan Soul’. “I have aspirations for PFB, to make my Bajan people proud of who they are. I plan to promote Bajan artists and local talent and to encourage them to think independently – to live their dreams!”
Peoples from Barbados Eyewear is available at EYE Q and Selima Optique, New York. Find more details at https://peoplesfrombarbados.com/ CN
Eye Q Stylist Opticians, Limegrove Lifestyle Centre Holetown, Barbados