From the desk of founder and Chief Vision Officer, Juliette Nelson:
In 2012, I made the crazy decision to fly halfway across the world, and work in South Korea for a year. I was exhausted from my high school and college journey. Also, unlike my peers, I didn’t have any job offers lined up when I graduated, so I needed an escape. It was something that I wasn’t even sure I’d do until the plane was flying over Japan and I realized that it couldn’t turn around. That year was the beginning of the definition of Juliette. It was my first time living outside my parents’ house. I learned so much about who I was, and what I accepted as my truth. It was there that I discovered my passion for empowering and uplifting others.
During my last few days in South Korea, my pastor, who was also the director of my school, gave me the Korean name, Na Nuri. It comes from the Korean verb, Nanuda (나누다), meaning “to share”. He commissioned me to share my gift wherever I would go. I remember asking God to use me to touch people from different backgrounds and cultures. I didn’t know what that meant, but those words were profound, and would set a precedent for how I would ultimately grow.
South Korea was not only the place I found my purpose, but also where the seeds for NURILENS were planted. Since childhood, I have loved to collect everything; keychains, cheap watches, brooches, and other things that allowed me to express my personality. Glasses were no different. Living in South Korea, I realized that I could get several affordable pairs of eyewear that were fashionable and would match my different wardrobes. So, I started stacking up. I think at some point, I must have purchased about 20 pairs. Some had bling, others had swirls, and were of different shapes and sizes. Interestingly enough, when I founded my first company, JUNURI, in 2018, I remember saying that the next pair of glasses I purchased, would be ones that I have personally designed, but I never took myself seriously. Ironically, the same glasses that I had for years, started breaking within months of my founding NURILENS.
In 2019, I discovered the world of blue-light blocking glasses, that gamers often wear to reduce the eye strain from playing video games all day. I saw the benefits and became interested in learning more. Given that my primary clientele for JUNURI was students and professionals, it caused me to think how they too, sit for hours in front of their screens, and would benefit from this. As someone who also sits for hours in front of a screen every day, I would also benefit from them. Months later, I worked with optical professionals, who helped me understand how to fill prescriptions, for people like me who need corrective lenses. I then put pencil to paper and sketched out designs for glasses, which led me to buy my first sketchbook. Letting my creativity flow on paper felt great and liberating.
Please tell us about NURILENS and how the name came about?
NURILENS is a handcrafted wooden eyewear company with blue-light blocking technology in our eyeglasses. The name is inspired by my time working in South Korea as an English teacher. Living there began my journey of defining who I was/wanted to be and understanding what my purpose was. The director of the institute I taught English at who was also the Pastor of my church gave me the name Na Nuri, which in Korean means to share. He also commissioned me to share my gift wherever I go. I carry the name NURI with me as that reminder who my purpose and what I’m called to do on this earth, hence the name “NURILENS” (To Share = My Lens).
What sparked your interest in fashion eyewear?
Growing up I always had an interest in collecting things that I found cool. I had a phase when I collected keychains and another when I collected watches. Living in South Korea, I remember being able to purchase a pair of prescription glasses for an affordable price, much less expensive than how much they are sold for in the states. That set me on a path of purchasing and collecting eyeglasses that I could mix and match with my outfits and eventually my constantly changing hair color. I think I had a collection of about 20 pairs of frames. Ironically, they started to break one by one as I got closer to launching NURILENS.
We understand you discovered the world of blue-light blocking glasses. Please tell us more about that.
I was purchasing a pair of frames as a gift for someone who was a gamer and I discovered that gamers use blue light filters to protect their eyes from sitting in front of a screen all day. I conducted research on blue light and pulled some studies to understand the craze behind it. I came to realize that blue light blocking glasses would be beneficial to the students and professionals that I served in my other company, JUNURI. Being someone who wear prescription glasses myself, I understood, how pricy eyeglasses can get when the blue-light filters become a factor. I then decided that having blue-light blocking glasses needed to be part of the standard of quality in all of our lenses. So in purchasing a pair of eyeglasses, whether they are prescription or not you can expect to have a product with a blue-light filter in addition to UV protection.
What are some fall and winter eyewear fashion recommendations you have for us?
You can never go wrong with a round pair of frames. They are the perfect addition to a turtle neck, sweater dress, or even a trench coat. Having a wooden pair of frames is a plus as they perfectly align with fall and winter colors.
What other projects or endeavors are you currently working on or involved with?
Well my learning journey is always ongoing. I am in the process of wrapping up my dissertation to obtain my Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, which will be a huge milestone. That will set a precedent for new book releases for JUNURI Publishing and new services for JUNURI.
What was your experience like in South Korea?
It was one of the best years of my life, honestly. This was the first place I called home outside of my parents’ house, so the opportunity played a significant role in me building self-awareness, understanding my purpose, and growing in my identity while immersing myself in a culture as beautiful as South Korea’s. I learned the importance of learning and understanding other humans and their lived experiences. I found that coming from Haitian culture, there were so many similarities that allowed me to connect with my students and the friends I made while living there. This experience set the precedent for my life’s work of creating a safe space by which people can be their best authentic selves and be empowered to achieve the highest standards of their purpose.
What are some of the best qualities you have that make you an outstanding entrepreneur?
I would say that my work ethic, purposeful drive, and willingness to learn are the two qualities that contribute to who I am as an entrepreneur. I work hard, work with purpose, and remain a learner of my life’s journey always. It positions me to persevere and evolve along my journey of entrepreneurship.
Where do you see your business being in 5 years, what steps are you taking to get there?
I definitely would love to see NURILENS release some more collections, offer solutions that would provide increased value to our customers, and play a role in facilitating increased awareness and education of eye health, especially in underserved communities where resources and awareness are scarce. Right now, what I and my team are doing to get there is ensuring that we are collecting as much data as possible, networking with those who are more experienced in the industry, and keeping up ahead with research findings on eye health that will position us to provide more valuable customers and target audience.
What words of advice would you have for someone who aspires to be an entrepreneur?
Go that your own pace, celebrate the little wins, and be kind to yourself along the process.
Follow NURILENS on Instagram @nurilens
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