Change your perception, change the world: Love Specs
"It motivates you so much when someone totally takes in what you’re saying and they say “wow, that’s such a good idea..."
If the thought of transforming your world into a psychedelic display of rainbow hearts doesn't fill you with joy and excitement then in my qualified, professional opinion, you need to seriously revaluate your life. And if you could do exactly that whilst supporting an extraordinary grassroots charity, and still weren’t inspired to get involved, then you’d possibly be one of the most miserable people I’ve ever had the misfortune to run into. Disgraceful behaviour.
Luckily, I’m not sure that sort of person actually exists, and when you feel the enthusiasm of the team behind Love Specs,it’s impossible to not be drawn in by their limitless energy. As one of the fundraising arms of Love Support Unite, the team take over festivals to sell glasses that turn every glimmer of light into a vibrant chromatic heart, as well as handcrafted brass kaleidoscopes, dream catchers and brass jewellery. 100% of the proceeds go to provide education, healthcare and skills training for children and young adults in Malawi, centred on the Tilinanu orphanage, which LSU established and continue to maintain.
Over the last 6 years, the team have established links with festivals as diverse as Glastonbury, Bestival, Secret Garden Party, Gottwood and T in the Park, gained sponsorship and support from artists including Rudimental, Katy B and Skream, and released a clothing line alongside Hype Clothing and Topman. At OX, there’s nothing we love more than a charity that combines real, world-changing action with a fun and exciting attitude, so we spoke to Katie Bill, festival volunteer and designer of the Love Specs and Hype collaboration, to get her perspective on these amazing festival accessories.
OX: Hi Katie, thanks for coming to talk to us. What inspired you to get involved with Love Specs?
I got involved through a friend who explained the charity to me. I didn’t know anything about it then I met one of the founders and absolutely fell in love with her. She’s so passionate and happy and she completely inspired me to do it. I had so much fun, and the first reactions I got whilst selling were so positive that it just put me on a massive high!
OX: What makes Love Support Unite’s work so special?
I think the main thing is the upkeep of the orphanage which houses 36 girls, and there’s also a school which we’re building a new wing onto with all the profits we’ve made from the festivals over the summer. Also, we have sustainable projects going on at the moment, like introducing solar panels into villages in Malawi and raising money to build wells.
OX: Incredible work. You sell Love Specs at festivals all over the country and across the globe. How do you keep motivated to make sales when the temptation of the festival atmosphere is constantly around?
It’s people’s reactions. It motivates you so much when someone totally takes in what you’re saying and they say “wow, that’s such a good idea”. Everyone’s positive and it makes you feel so good that it just makes you want to do it more. Also, it’s incredible when you make a sale to someone and they mention that they have a connection to a magazine or to a pop star or DJ and they’d love to get involved.
OX: I bet! You designed the prints for Love Specs’ charity collaboration with Hype Clothing and Topman. How did that come about?
I was asked to create a background for the Love Specs website, and they were putting together the collab with Hype and Topman at the same time, and they liked my designs so much that they put mine forward. Some were chosen and when the final products came out, two out of the three products used my designs.
OX: Amazing. What sort of designs do you create?
Loads of colour. The ones I did for Love Specs were inspired by African print, so a lot of black markings, ink and bold patterns. I used a lot of orange and blue, which are found a lot in traditional Malawian textiles.
OX: What has been your proudest experience whilst working with Love Specs?
Ah, it sounds cheesy but there are loads. Meeting Rudimental and hearing their reaction to the charity and the clothes was fantastic. Also, when you hand the money over to the charity at the end of a festival it feels so good to know that you’re really making a difference.