Originally written and published by Cityscape Magazine
Funky, bold, well priced. That’s Leigh Pickering’s philosophy for sunglasses. A few years ago, she spotted a gap in the market for some facial fashion that made a statement, and her brand has been growing ever since.
Her Christchurch sunglasses label Happy To Sit On Your Face has gone from strength to strength, and is now stocked across New Zealand and Australia, including at high-end fashion stores like Trelise Cooper.
Leigh’s been in the fashion industry for about 30 years, selling everything from Ray-Ban to Christian Dior and beyond. About five years ago she stopped working, when her father was sick with motor neurone disease. Around this time, she slowly began building Happy To Sit On Your Face. “I saw my father dying and I wanted to bring some happiness into the world,” Leigh says. “Life is hard, so let’s have something that’s fun.”
She immediately started to get positive feedback about her sunglasses – people were stoked with the range of designs, each wildly different from the last. “Protecting yourself from UV is a practical matter but you can be amazing, different and bold while you’re at it,” Leigh says.
Around two and a half years ago, Happy To Sit On Your Face really started to take off and became a full-time business for Leigh. As well as being extensively stocked in fashion stores, online sales have picked up in a big way and Leigh regularly sends sunglasses to the UK and USA, as well as around Australasia. And she still brings her glasses to some of the bigger markets around town, like the Lyttelton Market, where she demonstrates her uncanny skill for picking out the perfect pair for someone at first sight.
So what’s her secret? Leigh says it’s about making products that make you happy, creating something high quality that anyone can have at a good price, and ultimately, “being yourself and bugger what other people think”.