Former pupil’s successful luxury eyewear brand

Posted In Alumni

Meet Xiwen Zhang, a former Bethany pupil who has discovered her artistic and creative talents by launching her own luxury eyewear brand called For Art’s Sake. Founded in 2016 with her boyfriend Yannis, the brand is still young but has already had major impact on the premium market.

Celebrities spotted wearing the glasses include the likes of J-Lo, Beyonce and Poppy Delevigne. Not only this, but in a few months time Xiwen and Yannis will have their own For Art’s Sake store in Covent Garden, London – a dream come true.

Communications Officer, Daniella Gray, caught up with Xiwen to find out more.

When did you attend Bethany?

From 2007-2012.

What are you doing now? 

I’m now the Owner and Creative Director of For Art’s Sake, a luxury sunglasses brand based in London which I started with my boyfriend Yannis in 2016. The brand is still young but we’ve already reached some amazing milestones: celebrities like Beyonce and J Lo have worn our glasses, and we’ll soon be opening our first store in Covent Garden!

What is your favourite memory of life at Bethany?

In my art classes towards the end of school, it was just me and two other girls. I look back on this period so fondly as even though we were a little competitive we used to laugh and joke so much. It was so much fun that I would finish my lunch early and head to class so we could spend more time together.

Did you have a favourite teacher/subject?

I really enjoyed art classes which were taught by Mr Norgrove. He always gave really great constructive criticism and helped me to develop my skills a lot. He also helped me sell one of my paintings to other teachers! I also liked Mrs Presland – the English teacher for international pupils. She was so kind and she really helped me with my English.

How did your experiences at Bethany help your career?

My time there encouraged me to explore my creative side, and to think big when it came to my future and career. The teachers encouraged me to be experimental, to get out there and do things. Talent competitions, pupil art exhibitions and day trips to interesting places also kept us continuously inspired.

What advice would you give a Bethany pupil looking to work in the same field as you?

Experiment with the different subjects and then pursue your passion. Take advantage of the activities in the School and the facilities, too.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self? 

As an international pupil, try and speak more English and interact with people beyond your immediate circle, because everyone is really friendly. It’s like a little community!

What do you value most about being connected with Bethany and The Bethany Network today?

I really value the friendships that I built there. Some of my best friends to this day are girls that I met at Bethany. The school was also supportive of experimenting and I love that they encouraged my adventurous side.