Bureo Inc., a three-year-old Redondo Beach firm that began as an environmentally conscious skateboard maker, has expanded its scope to sunglasses.
Co-founded in 2012 by New Englanders David Stover, Kevin Ahearn and Ben Kneppers, along with partner Greg Swienton, Bureo collaborated with Chilean eyewear manufacturer Karün for its eyewear line. The product of that relationship is the Ocean Collection, three classic unisex frames crafted entirely from recycled fishing nets, which account for about 10 percent of the world’s plastic pollution, according to Bureo.
The company has set up disposal points throughout Chile where fishing crews can deposit their old nets. It uses the same material to make its skateboards.
Bureo decided to try its hand at sunglasses after the success of its Minnow skateboard, launched in 2014 with $10,000 in funding from the venture accelerator of Boston’s Northeastern University and $40,000 from Start Up Chile, a state-backed seed accelerator in Santiago. Bureo has its manufacturing facilities in Santiago, the Chilean capital.
“We realized we could capture an even wider audience with sunglasses, providing a larger, more diverse demographic to tell the recycling story,” said Stover.
An August Kickstarter campaign for the sunglasses brought in $180,000 in 30 days. Everyone who donated at least $99 received a pair.
The company will make 5,000 pairs for its official launch this spring into select stores of Patagonia Inc., a high-end outdoor clothing chain based in Ventura, and it will also be selling them in a small group of surf shops in Southern California as well as a handful of other states. The shades, which will retail for $139, will also be available on Bureo’s website.
– Elyse Glickman
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