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Our Story

Unlike the majority of us, Jonathan Elvidge is happiest when faced with a problem. His entire career has been spent driving forward solutions, specifically in the deployment of gadgets, and how they can be utilised to make our daily lives better.

One such conundrum was troubling Jonathan recently, which was brought about by something that affects so many of us – the inevitable onset of poor eyesight and the need for reading glasses. Annoyed by having to remember not only his mobile phone, wallet and car keys, there was now another addition to the daily essentials list, and with pockets already full, the frustration of where to keep his spectacles left him with a dilemma. Should he struggle to take them with him each time, just to use for the odd text message or reading a menu – or leave them at home and struggle? He tried a vast array of folding glasses, found them slow to use, fiddly and easily breakable. Then he delved deeper, sampling lorgnettes and the lesser known flat frenzel magnifier – but found that neither were user friendly and the magnification quality decidedly blurry.

The perfect solution became evident after finally getting hold of a monocle! With the correct lens power it immediately solved the problem. Both eyes can be kept open allowing the user to see close-up and distance at the same time (the brain is clever you know). Super lightweight and durable, it can be worn around the neck, unnoticeable until it is intended for use. The simplest solution is often the best.

Relatively unused for over a century, the initial searches to source the monocle proved fruitless. Taking heed of the words cited by David Hall in the Entrepreneur Code of “solve a problem and sell it to everyone else”, Jonathan decided to join forces with Fan Frames Ltd, a local eyewear company founded by optical experts Chris Birkett and Paul Gibson. The trio combined their wealth of knowledge in the fields of gadgetry and optometry to re-create and manufacture a new, updated version of the classic monocle.

With the first production run underway, Jonathan started to spread the word about the newly revamped correctional device – and was met with laughter and cries of “this is madness!”, and with an endorsement like that he knew it was bound to be a runaway success. Monocle Madness was born! In order to get the burgeoning company off the ground, friends and colleagues with much needed skills jumped on board to help – more often than not giving their valuable time for free.

Jonathan Elvidge - Believer


Jonathan is mad about gadgets, much much madder than most! So much so in fact he has made it his life’s work to discover and make available, gadgets and other 'cool stuff' as Founder of the original Gadget Shop high street chain, and more recently as co-founder of RED5, The Ultimate Gadget Shop.

In addition Jonathan has also co-founded a Company specialising in product development and a distribution business amongst others. As well as gadgets Jonathan loves anything that flies, big and small, and gained private pilots licences for both planes and helicopters. In 2001 Jonathan was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration. Jonathan re-discovered the monocle when trying to find a solution to the problem of constantly being without his reading glasses. He is never without it.

Chris Birkett - Believer


Chris left school at 16 moving straight to an Engineering apprenticeship, working hard until finally mastering CAD and the manufacturing process before leaving to start his own design company. Fortunately soon after he met Paul Gibson and started Fan Frames designing and manufacturing eyewear including sunglasses, prescription glasses and reading glasses which are now stocked in over 1000 stores worldwide. He is also the co-founder of Reading123 an online website that sells fashionable off the shelf ready readers.

Chris is a keen gamer and aviation enthusiast, an avid Liverpool FC football fan and is known for enjoying a few real ales at the weekend.

Paul Gibson - Founder


Paul is admittedly an absolute workaholic, he is described by his nearest and dearest as Short Circuit (follow the link for video interpretation). He is in his element when learning something new, but what sets him apart from the crowd is the ability to apply what he learns to solve everyday problems and spot the simplest of solutions. He started working in a glazing lab in independent opticians in Hull at the age of seventeen and within ten years qualified as Dispensing Optician and graduated as an Optometrist. He took the hard route studying after full time work and self-funded himself through university during 2002 – 2005. He then worked for several small and large companies until spotting a gap in his industry which gave birth to Fan Frames, Reading123 and now Monocle Madness.

James Ash - Believer


Ditching a fun and successful career in sport and mental health to jump in feet first with a clothing business back in 2009, James hasn't looked back and has since entered into the fashion world with clothing stores, websites, retail and wholesale along with events. With a creative magazine, spicy food sauce and a creative agency that covers anything and everything from Modelling, photography to events, PR and Marketing. James brought his experience and team into our monocle world and pulled together our photo shoots.

'Everyone involved in our shoots wanted to take the product away for themselves or for people they know'. 'This is not only a practical product but also a fashion accessory'.

Andy Houghton - Believer


My style is quite different from the glossy images you would normally associate with fashion photography. My images have a dark and brooding atmosphere to them. I am more interested in showing a different side to the models than just taking pretty pictures. When I plan a shoot, I make sketches of the poses and locations I’m going to use. I tend to think cinematically and create short stories in my head, like I’m watching a film. It is very important that the model I’m shooting can connect to these ideas, and understand where the images are leading. I take inspiration from scenes in movies and pictures I come across on the Internet. I merge all of these together until I have an idea that works. More often than not these ideas take on new forms as I am shooting. I am a great believer in spontaneity.

Kate Hunter



Kate Hunter established her jewellery designing business in 2009, and quickly made a reputation for her jewellery pieces with a British sense of style. Based in her Yorkshire studio in the UK and working with her own traditional jewellery techniques and tools, Kate's designs are created using quality and wearable materials. As well as founding High Maintenance Jewellery Ltd, Kate hosts personal jewellery events for clients, designs and creates seasonal collections, and holds workshops to the public. Kate is well-known for her personal, yet professional approach when working with her valued clients on projects. Diversity is a strong element of her work which makes her bespoke jewellery pieces highly sought after. Injecting a unique and full flavour into each piece, Kate takes you on a colourful journey and sustains you as a strong part of the creativity along the way.