We sat down with the owner of Optiko Eyewear, Michael Makras, as he takes us through the five most asked questions about his buying trips to trade shows around the world.
1. What started your love affair with eyewear and finding unique brands to stock at Optiko?
I think my obsession with eyewear was first born out of my scientific fascination with the eye itself. At school I was a bit of a science nerd and once I started studying biology, the eye became the focus (pardon the pun) of my attention. The fascination grew and it still inspires me to this day.
2. How do you know what brands and items are trending when you have so many options to choose from on a buying trip?
We avoid anything that is trending. We buy based on good design principles and workmanship. We avoid the masses and lead our own way.
3. How often do you embark on a buying trip to Italy and is this the only destination you travel to when buying?
We usually do one buying trip per year. I have attended Paris, Milan, Tokyo and even Munich for our buying meetings.
4. Talk us through your day – what exactly does it look like when you are in Italy at an eyewear trade show?
I wake up, pack my bag with laptop and stock reports. I always have an excellent backup battery, this is crucial! I then head to my local cafe for a coffee at the bar and maybe a pastry and then straight to the big fairground via Metro which takes about 20 minutes. My day then consists of meetings, meetings, meetings, coffee and more meetings. Often I will have an event or dinner to attend in Milan during the evening. I try to stay clear and focussed at the show as many big decisions are often made during this time, so I prefer to let steam off after the shows are finished and do a little bit of personal travel (which often involves food and coffee).
5. Do you have favourite trattoria to wind down at after a big day at trade shows in Italy?
It’s just too hard to pick a favourite, I am definitely someone that always seeks the new, however on my last trip my daughter Charlotte and I discovered Ristorante Dammatra in the Navigli district. Classic Milanese cuisine, giant Cotoletta and the most sublime Osso Bucco, good wines and amazing value warm, intimate and no tourists (apart from us).
Visit Optiko Eyewear and explore the most unique and rare eyewear pieces in the southern hemisphere at 202 Edward Street Brisbane.