In search of family friendly sunglasses, islander designs her own
The desire to create a memorable vacation photo with all her family wearing matching sunglasses inspired Galvestonian Michelle Edgerly to launch her own business.
“I really wanted a cute photo of me, Dennis, and our three boys all wearing matching sunglasses on the beach,” Edgerly said. “I couldn’t find anything affordable and ended up buying expensive glasses. Of course, my boys broke a pair on the plane before we even landed. We made it work for the photo, but I thought there must be plenty of other moms like me who want affordable, matching glasses for their family.”
Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic also helped convince Edgerly there was a market for kid-friendly, polarized sunglasses. With in-person schooling and sports canceled, the family was at home and Edgerly, who doesn’t like her boys to spend time on digital devices, found herself playing outside a lot, she said.
“I was outside every day with the boys just trying to burn energy, and I thought we really need sunglasses that can stand up to the Galveston weather,” she said. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought the time is now, and it’s been full throttle ever since.”
She set about researching sunglasses that would meet her requirements of being fun, affordable, polarized and non-slip. She wanted soft-touch glasses with matching styles for both kids and adults. After three months of research, Edgerly found a suitable supplier and set about creating an online store for her wares.
Edgerly has three sons — Hayden, 8, Sawyer, 7, and Westin, 4 — with island businessman Dennis Byrd Jr., CEO of Island Famous, which includes popular restaurant The Spot among other venues. His surname inspired the name of her brand — Byrds∙i.
The collection features six adult styles with five matching kids’ glasses, three styles of readers and nine styles of blue blockers. All products are available at her online store and in a couple of downtown boutiques.
While Edgerly is the driving force behind the business, it has been something of a family affair, she said.
“Dennis is there in the background if I need advice, but our sons have been really involved,” she said. “Sawyer, my middle one, loves fashion, and his favorite movie is ‘Top Gun,’ so he really wanted a pair of aviators in the range, which is how we ended up with the Jett. Then we have the Daisy, which is in memory of a dear friend’s daughter who was born on the same day as my oldest’s birthday. A portion of sales from this range go to Ronald McDonald House.”
Edgerly jokes her youngest is a “hurricane” who has tested the durability of the glasses. Sawyer also helped design the cheeseburger sunglasses. This pair has a classic 1950s shape, are teal color and feature a cartoon print of cheeseburgers — inspired by Byrd’s popular burgers from The Spot.
While Dennis Byrd is the most well-known businessperson in the family, Edgerly has her own entrepreneurial drive. In addition to being a busy mom, she has had wellness-focused businesses. First, she sold skincare products and then, several years ago, she launched a hot yoga studio on Postoffice Street in the island’s downtown. She later sold the yoga business to an instructor.
“I think every woman needs a Plan B,” she said. “It’s important to develop your own business interests and do your own thing.”
Edgerly has been on a steep learning curve with her new business and believes it’s important to keep asking questions and to seek help, she said. She believes knowing her customer base gives her an advantage and she has been sure to add “mom friendly” features to her business, such as the no-questions return policy.
Whatever comes next she has no regrets.
“It really has been so much fun so far,” she said.