Meet The Founders
Meet Jason & Karen; the founders of Kirk &Kirk
Meet Karen & Jason
If you ask Jason whether he and Karen are brother and sister or husband and wife, he will usually answer “both”.
The truth is that they have been happily married since 1993… and they are not brother and sister.
Karen studied graphic design and began her design career in Soho London agencies and it was only after meeting Jason that she turned her hand to eyewear. Jason studied French and began his career in sales and marketing for L’Oreal before discovering a cache of 1950s and ‘60’s glasses in his father’s optical practice.
The partnership works well with the combination of Karen’s creative skills and Jason’s optical experience combining to form a potent mix. They live and work in Brighton on the South Coast of England.
“Karen’s creative skills and Jason’s optical experience combining to form a potent mix.”
“Jason was also profoundly shaped by his grandfather’s passion for innovation and his tremendous generosity towards everyone, including his competitors.”
Jason Kirk grew up in the sleepy Buckinghamshire village of Chalfront St Peter. The eldest of three brothers, he had little interest in joining following in the austere and clinical environment of the family optical business and was instead drawn to the expressive idealism of the brit pop and punk rock new romantic movements.
Jason was deeply inspired by David Bowie, whom he revered for his immense talent coupled with a bold and theatrical self-expression, and seemingly endless ability to adapt and reinvent himself.
Yet, Jason was also profoundly shaped by his grandfather’s passion for innovation and his tremendous generosity towards everyone, including his competitors.
These values were formative for Jason making him an ardent evangelist of not just the brand, but of eyewear itself, believing deeply in the potential that it has to help others people express themselves more boldly.
Jason is also a secret Francophile, having read French Studies at Warwick University and then later moving with Karen and their children to Bordeaux, where they spent ten years together. It’s one of the reasons that Kirk & Kirk maintain their manufacturing facilities in France to this day.
Outside of Kirk & Kirk, Jason is an avid runner who enjoys playing football and chess, and also writing poetry, though not at the same time. He maintains that if he was not in optics, he would turn to writing fiction.
Karen Kirk grew up in North London with dreams of being a dancer. She later studied fine art and graphics at Middlesex before landing design roles in London at an ad agency within the Saatchi & Saatchi group and then later in design studio, Brend Thomson Shepherd.
Karen and Jason met in a chance encounter at The John Snow pub in Soho and the rest, as they say, is history. After building their family and their first brand together, and then later moving to France, the couple eventually returned to England and started again.
They settled on Brighton and Hove as their new forever destination, which they described as London on Sea. They were drawn to the open and accepting culture, and the simple fact that it put a smile on their face whenever they walked into town.
While Jason is the evangelist of the brand, Karen is the creative mastermind, relishing the design process which she views as a mission to solve challenges. Karen is loyal, often falling in love with one frame at a time, which she then wears exclusively for an entire year. Karen collects 60s and 70s glassware and is deeply inspired by the work of the late Italian glass designer Flavio Poli, nods to his work can be seen in many of the frames at Kirk & Kirk.
One hundred years of history in optics are important to the Kirks and the company is still very much a family business to this day.
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