Isabelle Van Steenkiste

Health | Protection | Childhood


Between 0 and 3 yo, the child discovers the world. He or she goes through his or her first adventures, the head in the clouds. This is a magical period of life and we must take good care of it, particularly when those adventures happen in the sunlight.

As a matter of fact, children are the most vulnerable when exposed to UVs. The eyes achieve maturity only at the age of 12 and we must protect this capital, which is essential to a life full of many other adventures. According to the World Health Organisation’s estimates, every year, 12 to 15 million people around the world become blind, victims of cataracts, and up to 20% are caused or emphasized by sunlight exposure.

We often forget, the eyes are the only organs composed of transparent tissus; sunrays are thus able to go through them and attack other, more fragile tissus. They need a shield.

After months of research and development, Pyke, a young company created in 2015, developed a pair of sunglasses Made in Belgium, especially studied to adapt to the morphological specificities of children aging from 0 to 3 yo: the BabyPyke.

An efficiency tested in partnership with Zeiss

The quality and the design of BabyPyke have been approved by the « giant » Carl ZEISS, specialist in optics, who undertook quality tests, confirmed it was compatible with their standards and gave the authorization to equip the frames with eyeglasses from the KidZ collection.


Strict quality criteria
  • 100% covering: does not let any rays in.
  • 100% quality: equiped with ZEISS glasses and alimentary plastics.
  • 100% comfort: flexibility and lightness
  • 100% strong: flexible materials and scratch-resistant glasses
  • 100% useful: optimal holding thanks to the strap
  • 100% fun: a design which is vintage and futuristic at the same time, 8 colors.

Recommended selling price: 69€.

The product positions itself as a middle/top range product, with a price reflecting the quality of the materials and the manufacturing process. (100% Belgian production, Carl ZEISS’s glasses, alimentary plastics without phtalate nor bisphenol) Distributed by Belgian opticians, pharmacists and top-range sport shops. The sunglasses were marketed for the first time in April 2016. Concerned about the diversification of its range, in late 2017, Pyke will launch the V2 of its product, as well as two additional ones to cover further age groups (2-4 and 4-6 yo).

“Because we want to allow them to see the world with their children’s eyes as long as possible.”

Put forward the singularity of you start-up, from its value added fo its innovative dimension.


The creation / development process

Regarding the conception process of a product, there are two possibilities:

  •  Invent something, develop the inexistent product and create a market to implement it.
  • Re-invent something that already exists, re-think it, re-design it, to adapt it to the real market needs.

Pyke finds itself in the second category and in the creative industries, by offering a new look and a maximized utility to a massively-consumed product, and making it a niche product!

Our mission being to offer for the very first time a qualitative model of sunglasses, specifically studied to be 100% adapted to the youngest, the prototype phase was essential. Designing it took us a year and a half. This started with a series of drawings, presented one after another to the target audience, in order to get closer to the prominent need. To move on from the drawings to the 3D, we scanned the heads of several children in 3D. This process allowed us to achieve a digital model, which perfectly matched the real morphology of the child.
After the conceptualization phase, we printed the 3D prototype and proceeded by iteration: printing of the prototype – test with children – identification of the faults – modification of the 3D model – printing of the prototype.
Once the design and the functionality were validated, we consulted a specialist in industrialization technical studies to adapt our model to the constraints of the production process.

It took two years of development, lots of 3D versions, nine prototypes and countless tests before we could announce, in April 2016, that BabyPyke was ready to invade the market!


The product

Because children’s eyes are more vulnerable to UVs than parents’, they need particular attention in terms of protection. Pyke developed a range of sunglasses 100% adapted to the morphology of the youngest children. We identified the opportunity after a wide market study (500 people). 87% of the people we interviewed declared themselves unsatisfied by the frames of the sunglasses they bought for their children.

The target voiced five fundamental criteria, and none of the existing models are able to meet all of them: The covering of the eye orbit – The quality of the materials – The comfort – The simplicity of use – The design.

Strengthened by this result, we studied the needs expressed by our target and developed innovative glasses, which ensure optimal protection and comfort, even in the most extreme sunlight conditions.

  •  Highly-responding materials to the protection criteria (ZEISS glasses, ISO certified materials)
  •  A one-piece frame (no screws), flexible, light and resistant, which perfectly match the circle of the child’s eyes.
  •  A fun and colored design the children are eager to wear.

Pyke is a model that finally brings together all of the five criteria the target identified, a minimalist design for a strong visual identity, an excellent holding thanks to its elastic band, located at the back of the head.

This is a world full of colors, a brand that re-invents sunglasses to offer a more fitting product.


The brand’s universe

A unique universe created by original marketing. A new vision of marketing via a unique universe and a strong brand image. With the idea of offering a sweet world, uniting, comforting, reminding of the mother’s tenderness, the sunglasses are sold in a round transparent capsule, which lets you see the product. Beyond the fact that choosing Pyke is protecting their eyes from sun-related dangers, make your children wear Pyke also means to protect the way they look at the world, preserving their carelessness and allowing them to grow safely.

“Buying Pyke is allowing your child to discover the world safely”.


The specificity of the start-up: the associations

Men like to think they can handle it on their own. But the man, the real one, knows that nothing’s more worthy than a strong support and a good team.” Tim allen

Pyke considers that the best ideas come from good associations.

It is its partners’ diversity, complementarity and excellence that made Pyke a company positioned towards innovation. The innovation of niche technical products in the protection of the children’s health. (Medical experts, companies specialized in materials, well-known brands like Carl ZEISS, distri-butors, etc.)

What were your motivations while creating the start-up? 

One summer, I was sent by my sister to go buy a pair of sunglasses for my 2 yo nephew. I visited several opticians, pharmacists and baby retail shops and I could not find any satisfying model (protection and comfort). To consolidate my feeling, I undertook two surveys. The results: 87% of the interviewed were not satisfied either by the offer of sunglasses for babies. At that time, I worked as a project manager in the bank sector. This day, I resigned to jump into the entrepreneurial adventure!

Three motivations pushed me further this way:

  •   the idenfitification of a real unsatisfied need on the market and the wish to bring an adapted technical solution
  •   the will to express my ideas, to concretize my projects, and to let myself be driven by my aspirations
  •   the need to find a direction for my professional orientation, the wish for independance


What obstacles did you face while creating it?

The development of the product:
Moving on from the very first idea to a functional and marketable product was not an easy way. Although my wish was to make my product quickly available on the market, we took the necessary time to validate each step of the creation process. One watchword: patience!

The positioning of the product against the competitors:
Positioning a new product on the market, most of all when it is an unusual one, is a delicate operation.  The first year in Belgium, we spent a lot of time in the price positioning, the distribution and the marketing. Our international launch benefited a lot from this learning.

The fair balance between the day-to-day and the maintenance of the strategy
The 1001 “things to do” in the day of an entrepreneur must not affect the necessary moments of reflection, the ones which will allow you to keep your company on course.

The company must be able to draw clear strategy guidelines to preserve consistency and build a strong brand image.


Did being a woman, besides of being a creator appear to be a singularity in the start-up world?

Too often, in the sector dedicated to the creation of products, business-specific skills are scattered between several companies. Each actor has its own specific capabilities and the companies rarely integrate the “creation” skills in their internal organization chart. As if this was not central and it could be undertaken externally.

Managing the whole complete cycle from the idea to the creation of products, from the industrial development and up to the marketing process, gives us the ability to offer an appropriate answer to the real needs we identified on the market. And to answer it fast and adequately.

Indeed, after this first year of commercialization, and having identified what needed to be improved in our products, we now have the capacity to re-think internally the design of the model, and to develop two new products, which will be available at the end of the year, to answer even more adequately to our customers.

We do not “depend” on the creation process of an external company. We have the capacity to create exactly what the market needs. It is a great strength, even if it is one of our biggest challenges everyday.


What advices would you give to a future entrepreneur?

Believe in yourself, trust yourself but at the same time, listen to advices (the good ones). Keep the balance between professional and private life, and make sure to get some breaks. Quickly engage your product on the market and do not fear critics, but hear it to improve yourself. Surround yourself, exchange, express your ideas and ask for help when you do not have the skills.


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