Georgina Wilson, the glamorous and beautiful commercial model and TV host, is also a successful businesswoman.
Sunnies Studios, the lifestyle brand she established with three other partners, has expanded rapidly in a span of two years, from sunglasses to optical lines to restaurants.
The brand now carries three lifestyle concepts—Sunnies, the glamorous yet affordable sunglasses; the optical line Sunnies Specs; and recently Sunnies Cafe.
Wilson, a co-founder, co-owner and brand ambassador is excited about Sunnies Cafe. “It’s like this was my first baby,” says Wilson who expects her first child with husband Arthur Burnand.
“This child,” she says, while holding her belly, “is going to be easy because Sunnies has consumed my life.”
All four owners—Eric and Bea Dee, Martine Cajucom and Wilson—have hands-on participation in Sunnies Cafe, brewing up ideas to complete the menu, trying and retrying cafe fares until they are perfect and putting personal touches with the interiors and the furnishings.
“I guess my fave thing on the menu is crispy eggs benedict,” Wilson says. “I love the salmon, crispy tacos, ricotta pancakes and white pasta.”
Wilson says the menu represents the list of food that they would like to eat.
“I don’t put anything on the menu that we don’t love. I know we all love these things. We all have inside jokes about it, like when we see the granola. Each of the dish has special connection to us,” she says.
“There was never a thing that I didn’t touch. Everything here has my personal touches. And if I may add, Bea and I super worked on the beverages. We add personal collections to that like the coffee cocktail. We actually did one of the cocktails and milkshakes,” says Wilsons.
The menu, she says, was crafted with the millennials in mind. “But other generations will be happy as well, from grandmas to parents and aunts and uncles. We want all generations to be happy. That’s a challenge I guess for us,” she says.
Wilson recommends crispy tacos, made of grated parmesan cheese melted and shaped into taco shells with fillings of minced steak (instead of the traditional ground beef), arugula, cilantro with Aoili dressing and topped with quail eggs.
Others include the shoestring potato fries “which is itsy bitsy spicy”, the pan-seared miso salmon and the veggie dish roasted cauliflower. Also on the menu are fillers, main dishes, pasta and sandwiches, coffee, cocktails and milkshakes.
“We’ve always seen Sunnies as a lifestyle brand. Even the imagery is full of the look and feel of it. It was simple and straight forward. In the menu, every single detail was given the attention it deserved. Seeing this in real life is a weird feeling and I’m not going to say it was the easiest process,” says Wilson.
She says at first, the cafe was too daunting for her and her co-owners to delve into, so they put up a partnership that will make the concept fly, creating synergy between Sunnies Cafe and the FooDee Global Brands, the operational genius behind Todd English and Tim Howan.
“Our life is like great on Instagram but it’s a lot of hard work. We just make it look easy. But I swear the month before opening the cafe, none of us slept. But thanks we had a brilliant partner because everything is a lot of hard work. We’re so lucky we have partnered with people who know what they are doing. We don’t even have to handle any of the operational problems except it should look like Sunnies. It should feel like Sunnies,” she says.
Eric Dee is running the cafe with his team of chefs and crew. His younger brother Eric Dee Jr., a co-owner of Sunnies brand, travels the world for food, brings home new ideas, make them popular and create a frenzy out of them.
“This [Sunnies] cafe has been thought of for a while by my brother and me. So one day, my brother and I said ‘why don’t we do a cafe?’. We’re one family, so we decided to do it together. This is the first project with me and my brother. He does retail, I do food. We saw that it made sense. For a lifestyle brand, it is in its own natural progression to have something to add to the brand, something relevant. That’s how the collaboration began,” says Dee.
“This is about two brands coming together, both power houses in their industry. We combined both strengths - the marketing genius of Sunnies and the genius of FooDee Global Concepts. It made sense for us to combine. Sunnies is becoming the supergood lifestyle brand and us being recognized for all the brands we brought in as food, and I think that the reason why we decided to do it,” he says.
Sunnies Cafe had its first store at the Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City and the second on the bridgeway at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
The target is to have 10 cafes by 2017. The third cafe, now rising at Alabang Town Center, is likely to open by January next year.
“We’ve had quite a menu. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that the first restaurant is always the most memorable. Now that we have two cafes, my partners will find every bit of the preparation worth it and and it nostalgic, looking back. They will be more confident in building up the brand,” says Dee.
Sunnies Studios now focusies on the growing the three business lines in 2017, aiming for market leadership in all three categories.
“We had three brands in three years. We want to grow the brand and be the market leader in all of them. We might not be opening up new concepts but surely we will be super busy in everything. We also just opened our optical line. We have Sunnies and we are working on being available worldwide. And it takes times to design a cafe. We want to make sure we put enough attention on all of that,” Wilson says.
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