Eyewear is having a moment – even people who have perfect vision are wearing frames! There are plenty of stylish brands out there, but Proof Eyewear sets itself apart from the pack with a focus on eco-friendly design.
Proof Eyewear was founded in Eagle, Idaho in 2010 by three brothers who were inspired by their Grandpa Bud’s strong work ethic. He’d opened a sawmill 60 years ago that, despite setbacks, prospered thanks to his hard work and tenacity. CEO Brooks Dame told us that he and his brothers grew up with “sawdust in their veins,” working in the mill. Today they continue to work with wood, incorporating wooden frames and details into their collection of handcrafted, innovative and environmentally friendly eyewear.
Read on for a Q&A with CEO Brooks Dame about their experience on popular show Shark Tank and just what makes this rapidly growing company tick…
Q: What motivated you all to try out for Shark Tank?
A. We were fans of the show first and saw the success of other companies that had been on it. We really saw it as an opportunity to find a good partner and raise some additional funds to grow the company.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in developing eco-friendly eyewear?
A. We wanted to develop the most eco-friendly line in the world. With that goal in mind, it got us really focused on the design. Every decision we make on our line has to pass the “Green” test. If it harms the environment, isn’t eco-friendly or biodegradable it doesn’t make the cut. Putting that stake in the ground early on has made decisions much easier for us. It gets us really focused and we’ve had to work hard to find quality manufacturers and suppliers. We’ve had to travel around the world to find the best of the best, but once we find them things move pretty smoothly.
Q: Where is inspiration for designs found?
A. Nature obviously inspires us. So you’ll usually find wood or wood accents in most of our products. A lot of our models are inspired by vintage frames that we pick up in boutiques or on Ebay. All of our models are also named after places and people that are near and dear to us. The Bird model for example is named after our Grandpa. His nickname was Willy Bird. The model has a flat top and our grandpa was in the military and always wore a flattop. So the inspiration comes from a lot of different places.
Q: What is something readers would be surprised to know about you or your business?
A. It started in my garage with an idea to make bamboo ski poles and quickly morphed into an international company. Or the fact that we still are a small company run by a handful of people but most people believe we are a lot larger than we really are.