Palm Beach local and owner of the highly successful Valley eyewear brand, Michael Crawley, takes five with Inside Gold Coast.
Can you give us a little background information on what life was before Valley?
Before I started Valley I was working in the surf industry in a creative and marketing role, the surf industry slowed and the first departments to go where marketing so I was made redundant. With that, I turned a bad situation into a positive and created VALLEY from home. I had my pay out and a little cash flow to get this off the ground, I started designing my first collection on my dining room table and started searching a factory that could make premium hand crafted eyewear and I also contacted the Italian lens supplier Carl Zeiss vision. I guess from there, there was a lot of trial and error and when I dialled it in I had created Valley eyewear. That was four years ago and we have come quite along way in such a short space of time.
How did the idea for Valley come about, what was your biggest motivation?
The motivation was to create a label that would be something my friends and myself would want and want to be part of. Almost to create something that would have a semi cult following, something that was unique and iconic. I wanted to build something that had its own look and was fashion forward and creative.
I was motivated after losing my job to make something insane on my own, I guess having that little chip on your shoulder is the best thing to motivate you to make sure everything we do is premium and done really well.
In 3 words describe Valley Eyewear?
Creative, Iconic , Unique
Was it hard to get your brand noticed?
At first It was hard for people to take us on board and put us in store as my first collection was really bold and had big chunky acetate frames. People were kinda scared at first, but once they got it in they sold super fast and then some celebs started wearing our product, Gwen Steffani , Kat Von D and others so that spiked some curiosity as to who this new Australian label was. Then when our marketing campaigns took off, our Instagram following really spiraled out of control. I started reposting our customers in our frames on our Instagram page and then it just ramped up super fast. I guess we Instagram to thank for a lot of our early success and popularity.
Big name stars love to show off their Valley's; Iggy Azalea, Chris Hemsworth, Kat Von D, Gwen Stefani, Marilyn Manson just to name a few.. how does this make you feel!?
I absolutely love seeing them in our frames! We don’t have a P.R company or anything they’re either friends of ours or they’ve purchased them from a store on their own accord, which is even better. You know we haven’t paid them to wear Valley, they’re actually rocking our frames because they want to which is more authentic. I’m not a fan of forcing people to wear our stuff. Iggy Azalea bought a couple of pairs and my buddy who is our hair guy from our last campaign shoot is currently travelling with Iggy and sent me pics of her in the lear jet wearing our frames which was pretty rad. Marilyn Manson gets a lot of aviators from us and also Chris Hemsworth. I’ve just made Kat Von D all red versions of our WOLVES (a dead coffin club and Scapula frames) as she’s changed her entire wardrobe to all red. Jamie Foxx walked into the Ritz Carlton in LA and bought 7 pairs for Katie Holmes who I guess he’s dating. So she’s been popped in our Db frames a lot which is awesome!
You’ve been running since 2011, do you have a favourite?
I always change any frames up but the DB is always a favourite as it’s an easy wearer and is over sized so it goes with anything. I just made Marilyn Manson some Zero base flat face curve Oversized black Aviators so I have been wearing some of those as well. They came out so rad I just made them all in titanium they’re super light and comfortable.
Both you and your lovely wife Tenielle run Valley together, as well as have two young kids, how do you maintain your work / life balance?
Yeah Tenielle heads up our sales team and it’s always crazy. We work 24/7 on the business, which is fine. Juggling family life and work is hard but the ability to be flexible is a benefit. I had a Skype call to our distributer in Israel last night after the kids went to bed, so we can put our time with the kids in as a priority and arrange work meetings or calls around them which is great.
What was your inspiration behind the latest Anarchism campaign for Summer 2017?
I really wanted to mix it up a bit and also I guess change it up a bit. I always love to look for crazy locations and unique places to shoot like Bulgaria or the desert near Joshua Tree like we had done previously. I thought it’d be challenging to do something exciting and shoot in a controlled environment like Carriage Works in Sydney (an old train station / warehouse) and mix it up. I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on Alexander McQueen and have admired his creativity and adventurous garments, headpieces and dramatic direction. I wanted to pay homage to McQueen and use a dramatic feel like he’d done with his runway shows. Keep the shoot dark but direct it as a more high fashion shoot/run way style with dramatic headpieces and over exaggerated lipstick and make up. Also using a dark model, which would be abstract to the McQueen direction. I found Memu who’s an amazing beautiful black model and she has these incredible lips and facial structure, so it was amazing to use someone with such beautiful features and such a distinctive look. So mixing up my direction and giving it a new spin was my main thought process behind the Anarchism campaign, to clean it up a little but also keep that dark aesthetic. It seemed to work well.
I’d love to have the space to spend a week or two shooting and build crazy sets in a space like similar to Carriage Works, but we had limited time and Carriage Works is not a cheap location by any means hahaha.
With the success of the business has there been consideration of moving overseas? If so, what has been your main reason for staying on the Coast?
Yeah for sure, we spend a lot of time in Los Angeles which is almost like a second home to us. Our kids love LA and the whole Venice Beach / Santa Monica area, Disneyland is also a family favourit. I would love to have a home there one day so we could float in-between, but our families and friends are here and we absolutely love the Palm Beach / Currumbin area, it’s so amazing. When ever I get to LA after about two – three weeks, I want top come home and it’s so good to have the best of both worlds. I recently had a friend who tour manages for Marily Manson and Sia come stay with us and she ’s from New Orleans, so I did the whole tourist thing with her and took her swimming out at Currumbin rock slides and we hiked out at the natural arch which I hadn’t done for a while. It made me really appreciate where we live and how beautiful it is here. We truly are that lucky to live here and have everything at our fingertips.
What were your go-to sunnies before Valley was born?
That’s a good question, I really never found a pair that I absolutely loved I had a few pairs of Electrics and a pair of Ksubi’s, but there was nothing really that I was super excited about. I guess that also was a big driving force in making my own range , I figured if I hadn’t found the perfect pair I’m sure I wasn’t alone. Classic Ray Bans are pretty timeless but my heads too big for those bad boys hah!
What’s in the pipeline for Valley?
We have a huge year coming up! We have a bunch of new products coming I’m already working on our 2018 collection. We have some really cool things in the pipeline, we have a show in New York in March called Vision Expo, a huge optical and sunglass show which we did last year. The entire team’s heading over for that! I’ve been planning new campaign shoots and working closely with Tor Elias the Photographer, so that’s going to be mental, I’m super excited to be doing that!
I’ll also be releasing a new product next Christmas which we have never done before! So I’m fine tuning that right now also. I guess we just want to make sure we do the best we can and have one hell of a fun time along the way.
Your favourite piece of life advice?
My favourite piece of advice would be if you’re going to do something do it well or don’t do it at all. Along the way things are going to be tough, but if it was easy then everyone would be doing it. Having fun and enjoying life is a priority at all times!
You’re not a Gold Coast local if you haven’t…
Surfed the Alley or swam in the mouth Currumbin Creek at high tide on a summers day, and then washed it down with some fresh seafood and a glass of wine at Elephant Rock Café… That’s living.
Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask for your favourites…
Currumbin or Palm Beach I can never choose .. I love them both
Elephant Rock Café
Saltmill for coffee , acai bowls and breakfast
Barefoot barista in Palm Beach
Wilderness café in 7th Ave Palm Beach, great for lunch dinner and a beverage
Justin lane is great too in Burleigh
Currumbin surf clubs got a pretty amazing outlook hard to beat the view and a nice cold beer goes down pretty well..
Saltmill in Currumbin or Barefoot barista in Palm Beach.
Kid friendly activities:
My kids love the park at Laguna in Palm Beach, swimming in Tallebudgera or Currumbin creek, the walk around Burleigh head land is pretty incredible and the faithful ‘wet n wild‘ is always a winner for my two …
You can check out the awesome range of Valley eyewear on their Facebook page, Instagram @valleyeyewear or visit their website www.valleyeyewear.com