Local sunglass company’s vision becoming reality

July 18th, 2014

News Coverage:

Local sunglass company’s vision becoming reality

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2014 6:48 am

By Doug LeDuc

A Fort Wayne company which completed a crowdfunding campaign last month is now selling its high-end, handmade sunglasses at four U.S. and a dozen Canadian retail locations.

Desiar Eyeware exceeded its $10,000 Indigogo crowdfunding campaign goal by raising $11,195 in early June, mostly through the pre-sale of its Mach 3 sunglasses featuring ethically sourced wood and acetate, a dense but lightweight plastic commonly used for high-quality eyewear frames.

A number of batch purchases came in initially. Jamal Robinson, the company’s president and chief creative thinker, said some of the customers paid more than the company was asking for the sunglasses “because they wanted to support the brand and see our business continue to move forward.”

The startup also attracted several donations from contributors it had agreed to thank with gifts of limited-edition T-shirts and social media acknowledgements, he said.

Robinson said individuals placing orders appreciated the fact the company uses unique materials. The tortoise shell and white marble acetates it uses, for example, were produced specifically for Desiar. All its acetate frames are barrel rolled and tumbled to provide a smooth finish to the plastic, he said.

Wood used in the frames receives a protective coating that is invisible to the eye to slow its aging and discoloration. But, Robinson said, over time, the discoloration makes each pair of sunglasses distinctive based on regional variations in exposure to sunlight.

For the Indigogo campaign, the Mach 3 style of sunglasses were available in matte black, marble and tortoiseshell acetate with merbau wood, walnut wood and European beech wood.

“We had a good mix of product but didn’t want to overwhelm people with too many choices,” he said.

Since the campaign, the company has added Colosseum and Oliver styles and the Oliver sunglasses come in red and white as well as black. It also has a timber-colored pair of Mach 3 sunglasses.

“We had manufactured a lot of product and did that knowing we would have opportunities to start selling in stores at the height of the summer,” Robinson said.

The sunglasses are available at a dozen shops in the Little Burgundy chain, which carries merchandise including footwear, bags and accessories. The chain is owned by Montreal, Canada-based Aldo Group.

And while Desiar is negotiating with some optical stores in the Fort Wayne area, the nearest retailer carrying its merchandise is the Sunglass Hut at Greenwood Park Mall in Indianapolis. The brand also is carried at two other Sunglass Hut locations and at a Macy’s department store in New York City.

Part of Desiar’s work to get its sunglasses in more stores will involve exhibiting next month at the annual Magic Marketplace and Liberty Fairs tradeshows in Las Vegas for men’s clothing and accessories.

Desiar is selling the sunglasses online at www.desiar.com/shop for prices ranging from $90 to $99. Robinson said part of the company’s profits go to Project Thirst to build a clean drinking water well for a village that needs it.