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SOLO Eyewear is a line of eco-friendly sunglasses whose purchase supports eye care for people in need.
Jenny Amaraneni was in class at San Diego State University, completing an International Entrepreneurship course for her MBA, when she was given the opportunity to read Paul Polak’s Out of Poverty. The book figuratively and literally “opened her eyes” to the need for eye care around the world. Amaraneni, who herself has poor vision, decided to research the subject further and was surprised to learn that approximately one billion people worldwide do not have access to eye care and nearly 80% of the world’s blindness is preventable.
That’s when she developed the concept for SOLO Eyewear. SOLO Eyewear is a line of eco-friendly sunglasses in which every pair purchased helps to fund eye care for people in need. Since the founding of the company in 2011, SOLO has restored vision to nearly 10,000 people in need across thirty-two countries.
While Ameraneni had initially pursued her Masters with the intention of starting her own non-profit, she decided instead to find a way to support those already working on the issue. “There are thousands of non-profits addressing the need for eye care in the world,” she said. “Instead of trying to create another one, I wanted to identify the best and form a partnership.” She found two organizations with whom she decided to partner – Aravind Eye Care System and Restoring Vision. SOLO works with Restoring Vision to fund reading glasses internationally, and with Aravind to fund cataract surgeries in India.
Amaraneni works together with her business partner and the Creative Director for SOLO, Dana Holliday, to develop the designs for the sunglasses. She humorously recalls SOLO’s wobbly beginnings, noting how when they first decided to start the company, Amaraneni “literally googled ‘sunglass manufacturing’ to learn how to get started.”
In the early days they would verbally explain what they wanted to manufacturers and send sample images. They’ve come quite far since then and now get the opportunity to play around with complimentary frame shapes, eyewear trends, as well as different colors and materials.
The temples of the frames are made from bamboo, one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. SOLO partners with a flooring company and takes their scrap pieces of bamboo, repurposing them into beautiful shades for an even greater cause.
A few years back while discussing the product, Amaraneni and Holliday had a great idea – “Wouldn’t it be cool if artists could develop awesome designs on the temples of our glasses?” They began partnering with local artists to form a program that allows SOLO to offer a one-of-a-kind collection and further support the efforts and creativity of artists.
With this, SOLO Eyewear became a triple threat. Not only are the sunglasses sustainable, but they help to address a global health concern as well as support local artists – not bad for a pair of shades! All of the frames are named after countries where SOLO Eyewear has funded eye care such as Cameroon, Mali, Fiji, or Thailand. From there you can pair the frames with hand painted temples and you have yourself a seriously cool pair of sunnies.
SOLO sunglasses are all made with repurposed bamboo frames and lightweight, handcrafted acetate frames with spring-loaded hinges. They have 100% UV protection, polarized lenses, and are prescription-friendly. They range in price from $90 – $160 USD and are available online or in select retailers around North America.