Money makers: Sunglasses to last forever

Entrepreneurs Zoe Armstrong and Ali Watkiss set out to make sunglasses indestructible in launching SunGod.


Sun worshippers and money makers Zoe Armstrong and Ali Watkiss

You can bend them or twist them, but SunGod sunglasses aredesigned not to break, says Laura Onita in The Sunday Times.The range of fashionable eyewear, made of flexible plastic,was launched by Zoe Armstrong, 30, and Ali Watkiss, 29, in2013 in Putney, southwest London, after the duo got fed upwith the fragility of other affordable brands. So confident wasWatkiss of their products' durability that he even suggestedoffering a lifetime guarantee. "Yikes, can we really do that?"thought Armstrong. But four years on, the gamble has paidoff.

So far only 1.5% of their products have been returnedfor replacement. Better yet, it has even paid dividends,Armstrong explains. Because the glasses are so difficult tobreak, the cost of replacing an arm or a hinge is low, andso "if someone thinks, You know what while they repairmy sunglasses, I'm going to get a new set of lenses', it addsgreater value than it takes away". SunGod now sells around35,000 pairs a year through its website, with Classics costing£60, and Revolts skiing goggles £95. Armstrong and Watkissare aiming for £2.5m in revenues this year.

Business needs a chivalric code

When Jason Kingsley, 53, isn't out jousting in a £25,000 suit of armour, he's in the Oxford office of one of Britain's biggest computer games firms as its chief executive. He and his younger brother, Chris, founded Rebellion Developments in 1992, having grown up on a diet of role-playing games. They started out making games for others, but now produce and distribute their own material, turning over £25m a year. "It's taken us 25 years to get there," Kingsley tells the BBC's Will Smale and Greg Brosnan. But "that's great, there's no-one else in the loop."

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Rebellion Developments also owns comic book publisher 2000 AD, home to cult comic character Judge Dredd, which it bought from its Danish owner 17 years ago. It needed to be "cherished by someone British who knew the culture", says Kingsley, who runs the business according to the knight's chivalric code of bravery, honesty and kindness, in keeping with his hobby. "In business the need to be brave is obvious; the ability to charge forward and seize the opportunity, and do the best that you can with it," he says. Honesty means "dealing fairly with people", and "kindness is simply about the need to treat people well".


Instagram-perfect cakes without a hint of garlic

"A play date with Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is an unusual origins story for a successful business, but a session spent cake-making with their daughters is exactly what inspired PR firm founder Galit Laibow and Buffy actress Sarah Michelle Gellar to set up a range of organic home-baking mixes and kits. In 2015, Laibrow and Gellar, along with consultant Greg Fleishman, launched Foodstirs, offering kits for making chocolate brownies, vanilla cupcakes, and sugar biscuits, using only organic, ethically sourced ingredients.

The kits require only a few steps to create "Instagram-perfect treats", such as rainbow-coloured pancakes, says Susan Price on Forbes.All the products are made in Los Angeles, California, and sold in around 4,000 shops in the US, as well as via a subscription service that allows Foodstirs to test new kits with loyal customers. Keeping the range affordable has meant working closely with suppliers, and so far the 12-employee company has raised $5m. The strains of running a startup have sometimes made acting seem like a piece of cake, Gellar admits: "Being an entrepreneur is like shooting a movie that films 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The MoneyWeek audit: Roger Moore

How did he start?

Roger Moore, who died on Tuesday aged 89, was born in Stockwell, south London, in 1927. He was educated at Battersea Grammar School, then left at the age of 15 to join an animation studio as an apprentice cartoonist, on £3.50 an hour. He was fired after forgetting to collect a can of film. Looking for money, he applied for roles as an extra and appeared as a spear-carrying legionnaire in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), starring Vivien Leigh. The film's first assistant director Brian Desmond Hurst spotted Moore, encouraged him to audition for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada), and paid his fees when he was accepted.

What was his big break?

After his military service, Moore returned to acting. In 1953 he moved to New York and worked for MGM, then returned to Britain in 1958 to star in TV adventure series Ivanhoe. But his breakthrough role came in 1962, when he starred as a master criminal and secret agent in The Saint, which ran until 1969. The first of Moore's seven appearances as James Bond came in 1973 with Live and Let Die. Over the next decade he interspersed his role as 007 with parts as a mercenary in thriller The Wild Geese (1978) and a racing driver in comedy The Cannonball Run (1981), before all but retiring after his final Bond film, 1985's A View To A Kill. In all, his Bond films netted $1bn at the global box office.

How much did he earn?

Moore made a lot of money in royalties from the Bond films, but was always coy about the specifics. In the 1970s he bought an 11-acre property in Denham, Buckinghamshire, but subsequently sold it and moved to Switzerland to escape the Labour government's punitive tax regime. He also owned property in Monaco. He also had an expensive love life he was married four times, and his third divorce, from Italian actress Luisa Mattioli, ended in 1996 with a reported £10m settlement. In 2012, Moore joked with The Daily Telegraph that his policeman father's efforts to teach him about the value of money had been lost on him. "I've had no respect my whole life [for money]... I'm extravagant."

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.