The heartbreak that pushed Sabine Be to follow her dreams
Sabine Vagner – an optician based in Orléans in France for more than 30 years – launched her very first line of eyewear, Sabine Be. But her path to success has been long and challenging to say the least.
“I always wanted to be a stylist”
In March 2014, Sabine Vagner – an optician based in Orléans in France for more than 30 years – launched her very first line of eyewear, Sabine Be. After a slow start in her home country, the Sabine soon found success across the Atlantic and is now carried on over 900 stores worldwide and has sold over one million frames since. But her path to success has been long and challenging to say the least.
Born to a pharmacist and optician parents, Sabine, who is now aged 55, told EYESEEmag that her dream has always been to be a stylist. In a quest to break into the industry, the now designer applied to a stylist school in Tours, France but never heard back. Five years later, Sabine would come to find out that her grandfather – upon request from her father who did not see her choice of career as fitting – intercepted her acceptance letter the summer before she was intended to start. Instead, she redirected her energy into optometry, preparing herself to step into a role at her family’s opticians business, alongside her mother. She did this for 25 years.
Not long before turning 50, Sabine tragically lost her mother. Forced to reconsider what was important in her life, she began to chew over the idea of moving into design. “I just wanted to do what I had always dreamed of,” the designer told us. “I’m too old, I told myself”. It wasn’t until her son – who was at business school at the time – encouraged her to make the leap that started the brand Sabine Be.
In 2012, Sabine encounter her first big set back. After being laughed at by all of the manufacturers she met with at the Salon de l’Optique – an eyewear trade show in France – Sabine left feeling disheartened. To her surprise, however, she received a call at her store the next day from four young people who had recently bought a factory in Oyonnax, France. Sabine and her husband jumped on a train to Paris that Saturday to meet with their new partners. Paying upfront in exchange for a discount on production, the factory set to work on bringing to life the first Sabine Be designs. The small factory had issues recreating the brand’s logo and the first prototypes were a huge disappointment to the couple. A few days later, the factory closed down. “My dream of 30 years just came to a grinding halt,” says Sabine, “I didn’t know what to do.” However, with the help of a few loans and some guidance, she was able to find a new manufacturing firm to bring her creations to life.
Sabine B. Concept
In November of 2013, the first 6 prototypes of her first collection were ready but the French market was seemingly not. So, the husband-wife duo took their designs and went to visit their son who was finishing his studies in Los Angeles. They went door to door to many boutiques, but to no avail. Then, someone tips them to pay a visit to Julia Gogosha. Rushed of her feet and not looking for a new brand to stock, Julia stopped what she was doing when she saw the orange spectacles hanging around Sabine’s neck and agreed to take a look at the prototypes. Next thing they know, they have their first order. Upon Julia’s advice, they visit Artsee in Miami Beach and New York, who also place orders with the couple. “I was over the moon. I just signed on three stockist in the States despite the fact that I couldn’t find any in France. It really gave my business a boost.”
Things took a turn from there. Her fourth point of sale was in Chartres, France and on 4th March 2014, the brand Sabine Be was officially born. Since then, the world of Sabine Be has grown to include cases, chains, bracelets and more.
What’s next for Sabine? She hopes to launch Sabine Be Concept, a website selling interior decorations and furniture. And we are sure plenty more success is on the way, too.