What’s your story?
Proof Eyewear was founded in 2010 by 3 brothers Tanner, Brooks, and Taylor in Idaho, but its roots can be traced back to 1954 when their grandfather, Bud Dame, started a sawmill. The brothers grew up with sawdust in their veins working in the family mill and exploring Idaho. The idea to start the brand surfaced in 2010 when founder, Brooks, was building up the idea of a wood consumer product. With Brooks moonlighting at Proof while also working his day job, the company was managed out of his garage with one laptop and a rack of sunglasses.
What is your “why”?
Proof has continued to grow and expand, going from garage to global in a few short years, and becoming pioneers in sustainable eyewear. The startup provides products handcrafted from sustainable materials including sustainably-sourced wood, biodegradable cotton-based acetate, and recycled aluminum. The company stands firm on three principles: heritage, sustainability, and giving back.
How do you get funding?
The growth of Proof was built on hard work while searching for opportunities to reinvest into the company with each profit gain. Additionally, Proof tested the market with Kickstarter when launching a new material. The most notable growth happened when the company was featured on Shark Tank in 2013 – even though they didn’t accept an offer – the business was given the exposure it needed to continue making products they were passionate about.
What’s your flagship product?
Proof Eyewear’s most notable products are sunglasses and optical frames within the Wood Collection. These products are handcrafted from the finest sustainably sourced wood and hand layered construction thoughtfully blends durability and design for a one-of-a-kind eco-friendly frame. All frames come standard with stainless steel spring-loaded hinges and hand-polished with a water/sweat-resistant natural plant-based sealant.
Why does sustainability matter?
Proof Eyewears passion for sustainability and ethical practice has been ingrained from day one – which is the reason behind the name of the company and the ethos of the brand – “PROOF” that products can be good for the Earth and embraces the idea of being global citizens by doing good around the world. The bird logo represents the belief, “Everyone has wings to fly, some just need a little help.” Proof’s efforts in helping others have affected people from Idaho to the other side of the world.
Through partnership with HELP International and Proofs customers, the company has traveled, volunteered, and donated to projects in El Salvador, India, Philippines, Uganda, Nepal, and Peru. The next Do Good Project will take place in Cambodia.
Do you contribute to your local community?
Each frame purchase benefits the Do Good program which supports local and global service project initiatives. On a local level, Proof gives back by partnering with businesses, and nonprofits to donate time and resources to community needs. On a global level, the company partners with the non-profit HELP International, to donate through service projects and health screenings for rural communities in countries of need. Since the beginning Proof has been able to give back to El Salvador, India, the Philippines, Nepal, and Peru.
Advice for entrepreneurs?
Find your purpose. Build a brand that solves the needs of others and build it with integrity – the growth will be slow and steady and you will organically grow the right community of customers to support your product or service.