A Sydney eyewear retail business owner, who hails from an Italian town famous for eyewear designers, shares how she uses colour theory to set her customers and business apart.
Eyewear image consultant Ms Emanuela de Dona’ Zeccone is the creator and director of optical retail store Face Furniture Eyewear, which recently moved to new premises in the inner-city Sydney suburb of Redfern.
De Dona’ Zeccone is a qualified optical dispenser and trained Reiki Master – a Japanese form of energy healing – and sound healing; both services she offers at her retail store, but it is her knowledge of colour that makes her stand out, as well as her ability to deploy colour as an image colour consultant.
She is also a board member of the newly formed organisation, Optical Dispensers Australia, and was a highlight among the presentations at OSHOW22 in Sydney in May where she shared her expertise on understanding the power of colour in eyewear styling.
Eyewear runs in the blood for De Dona’ Zeccone. She is the second of five siblings born in Cadore, a historic region in the Dolomites in northern Italy.
She says Cadore is known for eyewear designers and creators, a place described at times as the ‘incubator’ for Italian eyewear. The first frames factory was founded there in 1878 and over the years many industrial and artisan companies relating to eyewear sprung up to create an industrial district.
The de Dona’ Zeccone family became involved in eyewear in 1971; Emanuela’s father has worked for Silhouette for 45 years and her brother, Andrea, operates a wholesale eyewear business in Cadore.
“My family had a little laboratory under the house where my father made frames. I remember him doing a lot of work with crystal,” de Dona’ Zeccone recalls.
“When I was growing up, my father would come home [from Silhouette] and ask me to clean a sample bag – it was all rimless frames back then.
“I’ve brought my own style and ideas to the craft, always collecting ideas and colours to send to my brother, who brings creative eyewear ideas to life.”
When she was 15 years old, de Dona’ Zeccone got her first job in an eyewear factory, putting in rivets and small parts, exposing her to new skills in manufacturing. But she discovered she didn’t like working in the optical industry, and moved into fashion, managing a clothing store in Italy for four years.
“In 2003, I finished a degree in accounting and my father asked me to drop off my CV at the local bank. I did, but I asked them not to call me. I went to a travel agency instead, and bought a ticket to Australia.”
De Dona’ Zeccone followed her dreams to Australia in 2004 and worked as an agent for renowned Australian eyewear designers such as Jono Hennessy Sceats, and Matrix Eyewear. This gave her the opportunity to understand the Australian market for eyewear, realising there was a massive”‘style gap” in consumer demand and supply.
She returned to Italy in 2009, reconnecting with her father, while sourcing what she describes as funky, colourful eyewear.
A few years later, in 2013, de Dona’ Zeccone was having a coffee with a friend in Danks Street in the hip inner Sydney suburb of Waterloo, when an idea was born.
“I wanted to open my own store and call it Face Furniture and I realised then that this is where Face Furniture Eyewear & Other Things should live.”
Her dream became a reality – but her initial foray into business was doomed.
“My first store was located in an arcade in Danks Street, with no passing foot traffic, and expensive rent. The financial details were not taken into consideration. I messed up big time,” she says.
Undeterred, de Dona’ Zeccone found a smaller – much smaller; only 20 square metres – retail space down the road with reasonable rent, where she relocated her business and remained for the following nine years.
“Those nine years were an opportunity to learn how to run a business without the stress of paying expensive rent and suppliers, unlike in my previous location.”
In November last year, de Dona’ Zeccone received a letter that the building would soon be demolished. She again upped stumps, moving her store to Redfern which opened in January this year.
In a nod to the area’s cultural heritage, she commissioned an Indigenous artist to paint a spiritual mural on an interior wall of her store.
She has continued to invest in herself and her business, training in professional styling in 2014 and completing an optical dispensing course at the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing (ACOD) in 2018. She then hired holistic business coach, Ms Leigh Jane Woodgate, during COVID lockdown last year, recreating her business model, including her values, purpose, and vision.
“I describe myself as an ‘inside-out stylist’. I take clients on a personal journey, bringing out their inner self. It’s about knowing your colour,” she says.
De Dona’ Zeccone describes herself as a specialist colour analyst and uses her insight into skin tones and seasons to help clients choose flattering frames. This technique of understanding the power of colour – and how it can be applied in eyewear styling, in de Dona’ Zeccone’s case – is known as ‘Armocromia’.
The theory was first developed by American cosmetologist Ms Bernice Kentner through the book Colour Me A Season published in 1979, according to which people are divided into four types: Winter, Summer, Spring and Autumn, based on their skin, eye and hair colour.
Armocromia has recently come back into vogue after Ms Angelica Pagnelli, an image consultant, AICI member and eyewear style strategist revamped the idea of colour analysis.
De Dona Zeccone says Armocromia is a “test” of sorts that allows clients to understand which colours gives them more and which less, based on a series of factors such as skin undertone, eye colour or hair.
She says wearing the wrong colours can make people look older or tired, accentuate blemishes and skin imperfections. In contrast, wearing the right colours can add radiance, making people look younger and help camouflage imperfections and soften facial features.
“Make people notice you first, not the colours you are wearing,” she says.
Before (left) and after images of customers. The concept of ‘Armocromia’ is applied to choose eyewear, taking into account their skin, eye and hair colour.
“Almost all colour analysis begins with the essential step of finding your undertone, which means determining whether you favour warm or cool colours. Once you know this you immediately narrow down your options. Cool? You’re either a Summer or Winter. Warm? You’re either a Spring or an Autumn.”
Working directly with clients at her Redfern store, de Dona’ Zeccone says she doesn’t feel the need to employ an optometrist, but does refer her clients to optometrists in her local area at times, and outsources lens fitting to City Optical.
Her niche is creative professionals, people that want to see clearly and confidently express their unique style. She is also a business consultant to help other businesses to grow and be different.
“I built my business by referral from other customers, through word of mouth. I create connection through colour. My clients are my business card,” she says.