Leila Nafa Crew Eyeware | United Advisers Marine

18th Jan 2019

What yachties did next … Leila Nafa from Crew Eyewear

If you have been in the yachting industry for a while then you have probably met Leila Nafa or one of her team along the way. Leila is the founder and owner of Crew Eyewear and is changing the way yachties care for their eyes during their careers.

Leila joined the Superyachting world after working as a tour rep in the mountains. Like many yachties she shares a passion for the outdoors and has a strong sense of adventure! While her first foray into yachting was pretty eventful; seasickness galore, she quickly secured a position as an executive concierge on a luxury estate that had a fleet of yachts.
Despite being able to travel the world and help organise incredible events, after eight years in the industry Leila knew it was time to leave…

UAM: What made you realise you were ready to leave yachting?

LN: The whole experience of working for the corporation had changed, it was becoming a lot more formal and after eight amazing years I found it had changed. I calculated that, since leaving university, I had worked, on average, eighty hours a week. I knew I couldn’t continue at this pace! I wanted to have a life where I could work when I wanted and choose when I wanted to get up in the morning!

UAM: How did you decide what to do next?

LN: It was partly by chance. I was on holiday and was introduced to Arnette sunglasses who had started a new brand called Odessey sunglasses. While travelling we met with one of the sales reps who gave me a sample to test out. I was blown away by the quality of the lenses. In Europe the majority of sunglasses are owned and produced by Luxotica (who own sunglass hut). That means there isn’t the level of competition there is in Australasia where so much more focus is put on protecting your eyes.

UAM: What was your plan B?

LN: I didn’t have a plan B! When I left yachting I didn’t really have setting up a business as a plan A. I was Iucky enough to find an opportunity I was very passionate about. It completely fits with my lifestyle as I have two small children.

UAM: How does your previous career in yachting help your current role?

LN: With contacts, as everyone is moving up in his or her careers. I know a large number of captains and know they care about the welfare of their teams. I know the market exists because I worked in yachting for years and eyewear was never a discussion point. I have spent a lot of time studying the effects of working outside on eyes and know how exposed crew are by not having the right protection.
Also yachting has helped me to understand how I can help other ex-yachties have a role on land that lets them use all their key skills.

UAM: What is your favourite thing about your current role?

LN: Being able to select the best quality products. I am not tied to any one brand or supplier; this means I can select the best products suitable for yacht crew. I use the governing body of Australia to guide my decisions around stock, as I know the quality of the lenses is going to be optimal. I can provide Oakley standard lenses for much better prices.
I also get to stay in the industry but with the lifestyle I want! I really enjoy getting out and meeting people and selling. I still do a lot of dock walks and shows to meet with crew, get feedback and sell Crew Eyewear.

UAM: What is one piece of advice you would give to yachties thinking about leaving yachting?

LN: Be realistic about your on-shore budget. The real world involves lots of tax and on-shore expenses. Be realistic about figures; you go from spending someone else’s money to spending your own. There is a big difference between the two.
Have a clear business plan and see a business adviser. Ensure you have a financial plan that is written down. Getting your ducks in a row before you leave is essential so you can enjoy the success you deserve. Saving and planning how you will live before you leave yachting will give you the freedom you need to set up a business you really care about.

UAM: Is there anything you would have done differently in setting up your own company?

LN: I wish I hadn’t spent so much money at the beginning! I had saved a large amount of money to set me up for the first few years, but it went much quicker than I had expected. I was still spending like I was working on a superyacht. I wish I had been able to “de-yachtify” my spending sooner!
In hindsight, I think I would have looked for a business partner sooner. It would have been great to have someone to share ideas with during the first stages of the business development.
This is why I am also excited about having a sales team around the company. They will be able to support each other and have the opportunity to be part of a team again.

UAM: What has been your career highlight since leaving yachting?

LN: I get to live the yachting lifestyle while selling a product I really care about. In my first few years I did Fort Lauderdale, Antigua and St Martin. It was great catching up with old friends and being able to enjoy the lifestyle on my own terms.
The very first yacht show we did was a big highlight. We sold about forty-eight pairs in two hours despite the weather on the day being terrible!

UAM: What do you wish you’d done before stopping working on-board?

LN: I think I took advantage of every opportunity there was. I think my only regret was perhaps working one additional year. I knew I was ready to leave the industry but wasn’t sure about what opportunities were out there.

UAM: What are people surprised to learn about your company / job?

LN: That there is no current regulatory board for lenses in Europe and there is no education around the sunglasses market. This is staggering in yachting where teams are massively exposed to high glare for long periods of time and our eyes are irreplaceable.

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Many thanks to Leila for taking the time to talk to us and sharing her knowledge and experience. If you are thinking about leaving yachting and are looking for a flexible role that will fit around your lifestyle then working with Leila is a great opportunity! If you are interested in joining the Crew Eyewear team then please e-mail Leila at: leila@creweyewear.com

Author

Oliver Maher