We Want To Know: Shawn Xu of MarsQuest
If you saw me even once this summer, then surely I talked your ear off about this new sunglasses company that I discovered through the Toronto Fashion Incubator in the spring at their Press & Buyers Tradeshow, called MarsQuest, and extolled the benefits of the sunglasses that became my go-to pair of the summer. And for those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to hear me rave about these amazing sunglasses, you’re in luck, because not only am I going to share more about them here, but I also chatted with one of the founders of MarsQuest, Shawn Xu, to give you a little more insight into the company that makes these sunglasses and the driving force behind it.
Shawn Xu and his co-founder Mars met and became friends while they were both attending the University of Toronto. They attended an international expo in NYC and saw a lot of sunglasses brands, but a couple of key observations stood out. The first was that the sunglasses played a secondary role to the atmosphere in the booths, where brands used attention-grabbing tactics like giving out free drinks and having a DJ spinning tracks. The second thing they noticed was the lack of representation from Canadian companies (most were from the US and Europe, a few from Japan). Shawn and Mars came away wanting to change the sunglasses industry, making sure that everyone can afford premium sunglasses, and they wanted to establish a Canadian brand that would be recognized globally. Shawn’s family is from Shenzhen, and through a personal connection he was introduced to the president of an optical association, Jet, who also happens to be the owner of the sunglasses factory that produces about 90% of the world’s leading luxury brands. Before long, Shawn and Mars formed a partnership with Jet to create a brand of premium sunglasses at affordable prices.
All MarsQuest sunglasses are polarized, 100% UV protected and scratch resistant, and are produced at the same factory, as well as to the same quality, as other premium brands (ahem, RayBan). The frames are flexible and bend generously thanks to the use of high-quality TR90 plastic or premium titanium, depending on the sunglass style - perfect for anyone who is prone to breaking their specs! And perhaps the best feature of all is the price - MarsQuest sunglasses are reasonably priced at $30-$50.
Shawn and his team are on a mission, a quest if you will, to change the industry and make premium sunglasses affordable for everyone, and that is reflected in the company name (Shawn also liked the idea of the brand name having something to do with his co-founder Mars and MarsQuest has a great ring to it). Beyond making affordable sunglasses, Shawn wants to encourage people to dream big and live to their fullest potential and hopes that people who wear MarsQuest sunglasses will share in the MarsQuest vision of being who you want to be. Shawn shared an interesting perspective, that sunglasses are like a mask, and wearing them empowers people with a boost of confidence to be themselves. I have several pairs of sunglasses, but I most often wore my Black x Charcoal aviator style from MarQuest’s Force collection all summer, and I can attest to feeling confident when I wear them - they add instant style to any outfit!
MarsQuest will soon be releasing their winter collection, and if you’re like me, you wear sunglasses throughout the entire year (I simply swap my metal frames for plastic ones so that I don’t freeze my ears off!). In the meantime, check out the variety of styles and colours of sunglasses available from MarsQuest on their website. MarsQuest is offering a special discount for our readers! Enter code "wantfolio" at checkout to receive 25% off! (The offer is valid for all styles except for limited editions.)
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow, directly from Shawn himself:
I can't start my morning without... cardio. It feels good to accomplish something in the morning and it wakes me up. It gets my blood pumping and my brain working. It also keeps me fit and ready to tackle the day.
I have a weakness for... watermelon. I always have to have watermelon in the fridge and love anything watermelon flavored. Even all my workout supplements are watermelon flavoured.
Most people don't know that I... was on the provincial judo team as a young student. I did judo for 5 years and won tournaments before I was 15 years old. It taught me the importance of staying fit, being active, and getting stronger.
Currently reading... Driven: How to Succeed in Business and in Life by Robert Herjavec. I think it's very important to balance life and business, especially when establishing both a career and a family. His life stories serve as an inspiration to start right and do it right the first time.
I want... to one day be walking down the street and see people wearing Marsquest sunglasses. I want them to enjoy the quality and style of what my team and I have worked so hard to create.
Thank you, Shawn, for participating in #WeWantToKnow! I think it's fantastic what you're doing for the industry and I hope one day you do see lots of people wearing your brand's sunglasses!
#WeWantToKnow is a series published on behalf of Wantfolio Group for Want.Canada and showcases and supports the leaders and talent in the Canadian creative arts community. Visit Want.Canada for all Canadian news, blogs, photo sharing & messaging.