Garrett Leight

Coffee and eyewear actually do make sense together — just ask Garrett Leight.

Leight’s namesake company Garrett Leight California Optical on Thursday bows a pop-up shop at Alfred Coffee Melrose Place, totaling 400 square feet. A grand opening event is slated for March 16.

It’s a sizable chunk of real estate inside an L.A. establishment that coined the “But first, coffee” phrase now seen on all manner of Instagram feeds the world over.

“[At] Alfred’s, at least in Los Angeles, there’s just a whole culture and community that revolves around it that’s so much in line with our customer,” Leight said. “I think we have a lot of shared fans. What motivates me is creating experiences. The experience of getting coffee and how that exists in an L.A. lifestyle and integrating my brand in that moment.”

Customizable coffee and customizable lenses are similar experiences, Leight argued, pointing out the craft involved in each.

The concept makes for particularly good timing as the company rolls out its lens labs within its existing store footprint. The company recently added a lab to its Venice door and the success there now means the company’s three other stores will be retrofitted to have labs by April. Even the Alfred Coffee pop-up, while small in size, will boast a lab component via a custom-built wall unit.

“The labs that we built are not hidden. They’re exposed because we really want to show the customer the craft of that. It’s not revolutionary to have a lab on site,” he said, pointing to competitors, which typically have them in the back of house. “We want to create these really beautiful spaces that are interestingly designed.”

Customers can watch as the lenses are dipped into a solution that can be made to just about any shade of the rainbow.

The lab at Alfred Coffee won’t offer prescriptions but will feature lens tinting. The baristas there will also don Garrett Leight and the company collaborated with illustrator Blake Wright on four different drawings, each bearing the tag line “Throw Shade,” on coffee cup sleeves.

The pop-up will be in operation through June 31 and is located at 8428 Melrose Place.

More pop-up shops are not currently planned, but Leight sees the potential in them, especially as they relate to collaborations with other brands.

“We believe this can be a successful way to bring people to a brand,” he said.

Up next for Garrett Leight is a store set to open June 1 in Dallas. The door totals about 1,100 square feet in the Knox/Henderson neighborhood. The site selection is in keeping with where the company locates its doors and how the brand is positioned in the market with distribution among retailers such as Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Colette, Mr Porter, Dover Street Market, Liberty London, Matches Fashion and Tomorrowland.

“For Garrett Leight, it’s a monobrand experience. For us, we’re trying to be in these more highly trafficked neighborhoods that are a combination of foot traffic and driving….While each destination is unique because they’re their own places, they’re similar in sort of the brand experiences that surround the neighborhoods we choose.”

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