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    My City Life: Tom Davies

    The founder of the eponymous eyewear brand on being a glass-full person, navigating professional challenges, and the diversity of London

    Where in London do you live and work?

    I live in Petersham, just past Richmond, and my factory is in Brentford.

    What’s your earliest memory of London?

    My dad brought me and my brother to London when we were around 7 or 8. He took us to Wong Kei in Chinatown and we stood on the stairs for hours waiting for a table while being barked at “upstairs, upstairs, downstairs!!” I was scared to death.

    What makes London special to you?

    The diversity of the people. I love all the cultures here celebrating their traditions. I try to join in as much as possible. You can eat great food from each country. You can hire people from all walks of life. You can meet people from all around the world in London as well as from all around Britain. It’s Londoners that make London great.

    How would you describe London in three words?

    World Wide Web

    What’s your usual morning routine?

    We all sit around the table for a family breakfast from 7:45 till 8:15. The kids’ school is close, my factory is close and my wife works from home. I consider this our greatest luxury.

    What do you do to keep a good work-life balance?

    Closing my factory in China was the best thing I ever did for my health and family. Flying to China every six weeks was horrible, but I didn’t realise it until Covid made me move production fully to London. As I type this now, I can hear machines cutting frames, polishing machines humming and it makes me extremely happy.

    What activities, habits or rituals have you found help you to maintain good mental health through challenging times?

    *laughs* I’m not a glass half full person. Show me any glass and it’s always full! I’ve been nearly going bankrupt for 19 years and Covid was just another challenge to navigate. I went to work every day during lockdown and taught myself to make glasses again. I’d not done it for 15 years. I loved it and raised £5,000 for the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital. Always give 100% and you can never regret anything. I think that’s my attitude in life.

    What do you like to do to relax?

    I’ve tried meditation many times but I’m just too active and can’t switch off enough, so I built a sauna at home. Not just any old sauna: projected effects, subwoofer, atomised aromas and wet room. With my sauna, it’s a full sensory overload and it puts you into forced hibernation. It’s my greatest accomplishment.

    What’s the best book you’ve read in the past 6 months?

    Eat to Beat Disease by Dr William Li. It’s so boring that it helps me get to sleep when I wake up at night. But the ideas are gold, so I’ve read it twice (mostly between 04:00 and 04:07).

    What are you currently listening to?

    Jon Hopkins. I recently went to see him at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s techno for old gits. His new album is on repeat in my sauna, Music for Psychedelic Therapy. But his previous album is my favourite of all time.

    What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

    In reference to choosing education and my career, “do what makes you happy”. I started off with boring A levels and dropped out after a week to go to art school. I love creativity and creative people. I wanted to do that but was taking A levels because that’s what one did. I’ve followed the path of enjoying my education and career. It seems to be working really well!

    What always puts you in a good mood?

    My kiddies.


    Tom Davies founded his eponymous bespoke eyewear label in 2002 after returning to Britain from Hong Kong, where he learned about eyewear design. He now has five boutiques across London, including the Tom Davies Bespoke Opticians at The Royal Exchange. This branch offers state-of-the-art eye examinations, bespoke frame consultations and a selection of ready-to-wear frames and sunglasses. Each pair is hand-crafted by an expert team of artisans, including Tom Davies himself. Discover more at