I know what you are thinking: another day, another hipster-y indie eyewear line. But Article One is a standout for a lot of reasons, beginning with its backstory.
While most of us were scrambling for last-minute internships (or practicing keg stands) senior year, Eastern Michigan University economics important Wes Stoody was busy launching his cause-driven eyewear line Article One. He was motivated to help kids who suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which can cause blindness and death, especially after discovering a year’s worth of supplements cost under a dollar.
“I had been inspired by people such as Blake Mycoskie from Toms,” says Stoody, that, in the moment, had zero experience in the optical industry. “I was just naive enough to be like,’yeah, I’m gonna begin an eyewear brand.'” So for every pair of Article One eyeglasses or Cheap Mens sunglasses sold, $2 is given to Helen Keller International. “At this point we’ve been able to contribute enough to find vitamin supplements to 12,000 kids,” he states.
Stoody discovered an eyewear designer and made his first run out of a factory in China his senior year in 2012 and subsequently ran the company out of Chicago for the next couple of decades. He funded Article One with assistance from friends, loved ones, his economies and what he earned while”bussing tables” and”working at pubs ” While always improving and innovating his merchandise, Stoody moved production to Turkey and, a year ago, a family-owned mill in Northern Italy. “I feel as if we found our home,” he states.
While at Chicago, Stoody lived in a gentrifying neighborhood that had been experiencing an influx of trendy bars and restaurants and a really good energy, which reminded the young entrepreneur of the hometown. “So when I had the opportunity to move back, I jumped at it.”
“Flint has obviously had its massive troubles, but one of the remarkable aspects of Flint is the diverse culture which is here,” Stoody explains. “For a city of 100,000 people, it is just so tight-knit. You get to hear about all these wonderful things happening in this area and everyone wants to encourage anything coming out of this city.”
Investors have been gradually opening their wallets to encourage creative startups in an effort to reinvigorate the city, too. Stoody partnered with a local investment company two years ago to help develop Article One (and retire bartending skills).” [The shareholders ] are very enlightened by how a creative entrepreneur community will be good for us moving ahead,” he clarifies. “Clearly when neighborhood or a city begins to redevelop, among the primary movers is always imaginative — if it is artists or fashion designers — then the second movers are usually amusement: restaurants, pubs. It’s great that a lot of investors have recognized in Flint, so they are starting to invest in the community.”
Though the trend community in Flint is not as established as neighboring Detroit, the creative scene is unquestionably buzzy. Stoody points to fellow entrepreneurs: streetwear label Goodboy and custom boot manufacturer Sutorial, each of which produce in Flint, and a local brewery, Tenacity — always a harbinger of change. “I had an amazing time building our firm here in Flint [because of] the support coming from everybody else ,” Stoody says. “If somebody is having a launch party or needs some aid funding something, everybody rallies around them to help get that project off the ground.”
Together with the further investment over the past two years, Article One has grown to a full-fledged eyewear business, offering trendy, modern takes on classic contours, with lively color-play and also an inspired mix of substances. Although, Article One’s mission has evolved because those scrappier times of yore. “The brand itself developed and the direction of this brand altered to be: You’re buying beautiful handcrafted product and then the donation is only a bonus on top of this,” Stoody explains. However, it’s difficult to take the inherent idealism and cause-driven commitment from the creator.
Article One simply launched The Flint Collection, a capsule line of three models (in 2 color-ways each). One hundred percent of profits from the sale of each set will profit the Flint Child Health & Development Fund. Keeping with the community soul, the campaign features local”function models,” such as eight-year-old”Little Miss Flint,” Mari Copeny and Goodboy Creative Director Carl McMurray (all from the gallery over ). “The best ways to fight lead poisoning moving forward within the long term is through healthcare, better education and more healthy foods,” Stoody describes. “And those were already problems we had here in Flint.”
The Flint Collection are also the very first Article One collection to be provided direct-to-consumer, available on ArticleOneEyewear.com and the Spring app. In a world filled with Warby Parkers, the newest traditionally doesn’t sell its eyeglasses direct-to-consumer. Article One eyeglasses and sunglasses are only sold via indie boutiques such as East of the Mississippi in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and opticians, a lot of these in cool, hipster-y locales: Smith’s Opticians at Austin, Texas and Myoptic Optometry at Portland, Oregon amongst them. Stoody’s doctrine on the business strategy is just as plausible as his causes — if a bit old school for such a young entrepreneur.
“We give credit where credit is a result of the staffs at the regional optical shop which you go to receive your prescription, to receive your eyeglasses fitted and to get educated on what is the ideal colour and what’s the best quality of eyewear for you,” he clarifies. “And we appreciate the expertise of those opticians, so we don’t wish to discount their worth and we always want to encourage the optical stores around the nation.”
And, if you are wondering when Stoody has run into his first inspiration, then Blake Mycoskie of TOMS, the solution is yes. “I met him in an event and just said,’hello Blake, I just wanted to let you know, you motivated me to begin my own company,’ which I am sure he’s gotten many occasions,” Stoody states. “He says,’thank you’ and we talked about eyewear. Because we’re in the same industry today.”