Whether you’ve tried designer eyeglasses or drugstore shades, you’ve no doubt worn a pair of plastic or acetate frames at some point. Maybe even nickel or horn glasses.
But how about wood frames?
It sounds crazy and old-fashioned — until you try them on. Not only do wood glasses look crisp, clean and fashion-forward, they feel incredibly good on your face thanks to the natural materials.
Shwood founder Eric Singer made his first pair of wood frames in 2009 out of a simple desire to do something unique. That first prototype was created using a tree branch, cabinet hinges and salvaged lenses from a thrift store.
Today, Shwood precision-manufactures approximately 150 frames every day in Portland, Ore., using a variety of natural materials, including different woods. The frames have proven hugely popular with 16- to 40-year-olds, especially overseas. In fact, 40 percent of Shwood products are now shipped to Canada, Australia, Europe and beyond.
“Over the past few years, there’s been a steady growth in appreciation for U.S.-made goods, which has been one of our largest selling points since our inception,” says Taylor Murray, Shwood’s brand manager.
Thanks in large part to those exports, the company has grown at an annual 200 percent clip over the past four years. Singer now employs 35 full-timers in Portland alone, not to mention supporting an international network of agencies and distributors.
When asked about Shwood’s relationship to the craft-driven Maker Movement sweeping the globe, Murray says: “We live by our tagline, ‘Experiment with Nature.’ When it comes to eyewear, we’re not looking to reinvent the wheel, but rather to breathe new life into timeless styles by incorporating natural and surprising elements. We want our products to reflect the unique natural surroundings which inspire us.”
And like a lot of startups gaining international traction through the Maker Movement, social media is at the heart and soul of Shwood’s marketing efforts. There’s a lesson here for any brand trying to capture the imagination of mobile, easily distracted customers and prospects.
“Transparency is a key component to gaining and maintaining our loyal brand followers,” Murray says. “By giving followers an inside look into our woodshop, the craftsmen, and the handcrafted process behind the products, our customers can truly connect with our brand on a more personal and genuine level.”
Explore Shwood at shwoodshop.com.