About 2 months ago, Stephen Pulvirent put me in touch with the brand Shauns Shades, a California based sunglass brand which I had never heard of before. Their slogan “Buy One, Give One Sight” says it all: for every pair of sunglasses you buy, a person in need will get a pair of spectacles too! While this seems to be a trend with some optical companies lately, I think a social component is a good idea if done properly. In the following, we were provided a pair of sunglasses and had the chance to interview Shaun Paterson – the man behind Shauns Shades – for an in-depth look at the brand.
Shauns Shades – The Brand
Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, (yes, you can hear the accent) 32 year-old Shaun always had a passion for entrepreneurship and social work. He volunteered with disabled children, taught rugby youth teams, and even spent some time working with kids in a slum in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, Shaun stated: “I always thought that I would pursue a career in business, and give back afterwards.” This keen passion for entrepreneurship lead him to the MBA program at Stanford, where he realized that he could combine his social and business interests. The idea evolved to start a company for sunglasses because Shaun has been wearing classes ever since he was 13. Without them, he is in fact legally blind. Although he never really felt handicapped by his vision impairment, he found out that poor eyesight is the number one reason for young people to drop out of school! Based on this, he decided to start an eponymous sunglass company Shauns Shades (spelled without the apostrophe, for you grammar fanatics), which would provide glasses for people in need.
Buy One, Give One Sight
Of course, these kinds of programs had been around for years, and so instead of reinventing the wheel, Shauns Shades decided to partner with some leading optician volunteer groups. These organizations send teams to third world countries to provide people with free eye exams before they receive either a pair of sunglasses, reading glasses or distance vision glasses. So far, they have participated in three clinics in Honduras and one in Ecuador.
Shauns Shades Collection
With all this positive social engagement, I was curious to see how the product would actually stand up. The current collection consists of 12 different styles, of which 8 are unisex and 4 are for women. The way these 12 sunglass styles evolved is quite interesting. First, Shaun produced certain designs in collaboration with an engineer, a psychologist, and an economist, which resulted in some basic ideas for the styles. After Shaun returned disappointed from a trip to visit various Chinese sunglass manufacturers, he decided to have the sunglasses made by an Italian family business. They were able to help a lot in terms of style design. Surprisingly, seven of the men’s frames have heavily aviator-influenced frames. Though it is simply personal preference that determines whether a style is appealing, very little additional information is provided to assist in making an online purchase. All of the frames are the same size, though the exact size, usually in millimeters, is not available, which makes determining suitability difficult. Only a few come in different colors and about half have two lenses to choose from. However, the virtual mirror is a tool that is the next best thing to trying them on in person. By uploading a picture, a customer can “try on” various styles online. In my case, the virtual mirror was mostly, but not completely, accurate. It was a far better alternative to guessing, and if you are unhappy with your choice, US and UK customers can return sunglasses within 30 days.
Nevis – Square Aviator Style
Using the mirror application, I decided on the rather square Nevis aviator style, because I already own a pair of traditional aviators from Randolph Engineering.
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