What do a foundation for children with special educational needs and an eyewear store representing high-end brands have in common? The mission of KIKAPCS. Foundation is to improve with experiences the living conditions of families with children who need more attention and support than their peers. Szemes Optics offers the most popular brands to their customers, aiming to turn shopping for glasses from a simple vision test into an exciting program . The collection, which is the result of a collaboration between the two companies, supports the work of the foundation. We asked founders of KIKAPCS. Foundation Viktória Környei and Luca Bardio.
At first sight, design and fashion, the things that Szemes Optics represent with their products and children with SEN (special educational needs) seem to be two completely different worlds. One would think that the two businesses have different aims, how could you work a collaboration out of it?
Viktória Környei: Szemes and KIKAPCS. have different profiles, indeed, but we believe that by product-collaborations, we can connect to other brands, especially smaller Hungarian ones, which aren’t as renowned regionally or globally. This is exactly why we believe in this, because we can support, or even proclaim each other. What’s more, we like to cooperate with enterprises led by women, which is also true for Szemes Optics. Fanni Flórián reached out to us first, and it became clear after the first meeting that we can work together, good ideas followed one another. It was obvious that we could connect through eyewear, and as cause-related marketing is important to us, we figured that buying glasses would help support the work of the foundation.
Luca Bardio: KIKAPCS. Foundation deals with children with SEN, including visually impaired children, so this is a link between the two enterprises. As part of the mutual project, Szemes Optics provide a vision test and an experience to children. The collection is named Clear vision for a more inclusive society, which sums up perfectly our joint work. An extra special feature are the K pattern on the sides of the glasses, which symbolizes the chromosomes of children with SEN. We’re all different, but we always have something in common.
KIKAPCS. Foundation provides a community and professional programs for families, but this project offers completely different tools and support. Why is such a collaboration needed?
L. B. : First of all, I think the essence of KIKAPCS. is to support those in need, which, in our case, are families with children with SEN. Our secondary goal is to educate our society, specifically university and high school students. We believe that with such a collaboration, we can better reach people of different social classes, those who we couldn’t address so far.
V. K. : If we work with a for-profit brand, everyone has a different perspective. I think the foundation started with a start-up mentality and, we still aim to show with our drive, dynamism, and thinking outside the box that nonprofits are just as much of a job, and a company.
What were the most important aspects during the planning phase? How did you create the final concept?
V. K. : Fanni has been cooperating with István Kutner for many years, so she initiated the cooperation. As I mentioned before, Hungarian designers are important to us, so we also liked this idea. The creative appearance of KIKAPCS. was key for us. This brought in our logo, as that could be included in a playful way, and the discreet use of blue, the main color of the foundation, was also our request. István creates wooden frames, which are completely personalized and available as sunglasses, too. They can be designed in any shape and color.
L. B. : Plus they’re not only unique, but also create a community, as whoever buys them supports the cause.
To what extent have you been able to achieve your vision since your start in 2019? How has the foundation helped the perception of children with SEN during this time?
V. K. : We still have a long way to go, there are now more than 100,000 children with SEN registered in Hungary. The sky is the limit, and we would also like to extend the number of families and employees, so we can become a regionally and globally renowned foundation.
L. B. : We receive a lot of feedback from families and third parties, for instance, during our KIKAPCS. Hero campaign, someone from Corvinus University said “it’s so cool that you made donating popular among young people.” There is some very positive feedback, but what’s a bit more special is if someone joins us at the age of five, we accompany them until the age of twenty, so a long-term change in their quality of life is guaranteed. We also see in the families who have joined in 2019 that they know they can count on someone every month, that there is a community they can embrace. Many people say that KIKAPCS. is like another family.
Can we expect a similar cooperation in the future?
V. K. : We had some in the past, we have some ideas and if a relatable request finds us, we’re down for it!
L. B. : We really like these collaborations, so hopefully, we’ll have a bunch of them.