I recently stumbled upon a company called Proof Eyewear and immediately was hooked by not only their beautiful products but the story of how the startup came to be. Founded in 2010 by three brothers living in Boise, Idaho, the project quickly grew from garage to global in just a few years. The brothers grew up working in the family mill and exploring the outdoors, a background that is reflected in their eco-friendly products that are created using sustainable materials, such as FSC-certified wood, cotton-based acetate, and re-purposed skateboard decks. Each line of products is hand-crafted and designed to represent a different sustainable practice. For instance, their ECO Collection is fashioned from cotton-based acetates, which are plastics made from cotton sources harvested within North America. The genesis of the startup, the Wood Collection, is taken from sustainable forests, and the company only utilizes premium cuts for their products, ensuring that wood doesn’t go to waste.
What I found most remarkable about the company, however, was their dedication to philanthropic programs around the world. The Do Good program, embracing the statement “Everyone has wings to fly, some just need a little help,” works to give back on a project-by-project basis. By partnering with HELP International, the company has started programs in India, El Salvador, Nepal, the Philippines, and recently this winter, Uganda. In India, Proof donated $25,000 to Aravind Eye Care Systems that used the money to build two eye clinics in Pathamadai and Vadamadurai, India. The eye clinics offer cataract surgeries and efficient eye care service. The El Salvador project similarly provided visual health services, along with assistance in socio-economic development, environmental conservation, and education. Locally, Proof also partners with The Nature Conservancy to raise money for conservation efforts. The three main tenets of the company – heritage, sustainability, and giving back – are demonstrated beautifully in their work, and I think it provides insight on how a company can integrate core values in a creative and thoughtful manner.
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