A recycled tree limb might be the last place you’d expect to get a pair of shades from, but a Portland-based company Shwood is creating stylish sunglasses out of all types of materials. Created by Eric Singer and his co-founders in 2009, the brand has made their stamp by creating some dope eyewear with a handcrafted DIY touch.
It’s always exciting to see companies like Shwood creating awesome gear with the same resources that we use to produce our earth-friendly headphones, portable audio systems, Lively Up bags and watches. Recently, we caught up with Singer and talked about how Shwood’s wood sunglasses are made from scratch. Check out the interview below and learn how you can win a pair of Shwood sunglasses and Stir It Up on-ear headphones from The House of Marley:
What made you decide on sunglasses when you took that first tree limb and made a new product? It could have been anything… why sunglasses?
I guess my logic was “WHY NOT sunglasses?” It all happened during a stagnant time for me creatively. It was the summer after graduating from high school. I had made so many random things, and my house was full of this junk pile of it all. I always kept a pretty nice collection of vintage sunglasses I would find. The second that these two things (making something/sunglasses) popped into my mind was the exact moment that I started building the first pair.
What’s the process of making each pair of sunglasses? How much time goes into creating one pair? How many hands touch each pair?
Our process has always been pretty intense. One pair of sunglasses will travel through upwards of 25 hands before it leaves our doors. On average, hand time per pair is one hour and 34 minutes, though if you calculate dry times of glues and finishes you’re at about six and a half hours. The process starts with hand-selecting our various woods to weed out bad lumber.
From there it passes through all the stages of milling that lumber down to workable veneers. These veneers are laser cut to produce our shapes, which are then pressed up and glued together, parts are attached and sanded, re-worked, hand sanded and shaped some more, and hinges are attached and set. These frames are then finished for protection from the elements, and lenses are cut specific to each frame. Once fitted with the right lenses, they are cleaned by hand to ensure a flawless first impression by the consumer and packaged, ready for the always-friendly UPS courier.
Tell us about the Shwoodshop in Portland. How big is it? How many employees? What is some of the equipment that you use on a daily basis?
Shwood officially launched in 2009, and currently employs 50 people in our Portland, Oregon workshop. With 150 pairs made every day, and our growing awareness around the world, it’s exciting to see how much our sales are constantly outpacing production. Every step from veneering and precision lens cutting, to shaping and finishing, is conducted in house, and Shwood has seen a steady growth in sales every year. Our large equipment arsenal consists of a man-sized band saw, dual drum sander, hydraulic presses, a 60 gallon industrial air compressor, a few massive dust collectors, a tabletop CNC, 5 lasers and a couple of really big shop fans.
At House of Marley, we work with Earth-friendly materials like FSC-certified wood, recycled aluminum and organic cotton. Is using eco-friendly materials important to Shwood?
Yes, using eco-friendly materials is very important to us… The root of our brand is to “Experiment With Nature”, and since 2009 we’ve been producing sunglasses using sustainably harvested wood sourced from local mills in Portland, now stone, and even recycled skateboards and whiskey barrels… The nature around us is translated through each product we develop: the woods we use are all as premium as it gets, and all locally-sourced and sustainably harvested. Each piece we make gathers inspiration from vintage and classic silhouettes, and takes inspiration from the environment where Shwood is located.
In an era where it’s so easy to get a mold and make a million plastic products cheaply, why did you want to take the time to create something that was so hands-on?
Many products are not made how they used to be – so much is developed from plastic now. In our opinion, the way the world operated before plastics carried a sense of quality that’s hard to find today. At Shwood, we all felt that the sunglasses industry was no exception to this opinion, so we did something about that. We have chosen a classic route for the image of our brand, and this is represented in our styles. It’s a good feeling to be able to look at a piece of nature around us, and recycle it into an amazing pair of sunglasses.
What pair are you wearing at the moment? Do you have a personal favorite?
My favorite is the Dark Walnut Belmont Original outfitted with brown polarized lenses. They look good while keeping things subtle.
Teaming together with Shwood, we are giving you a chance to win a pair of Canby wood sunglasses and our Stir It Up on-ear headphones. Head to your Instagram, like and regram the contest photo from our account and be sure to follow and tag @houseofmarley and @shwoodshop. Add #MarleyShwood to your post and you will instantly be entered to win the giveaway. Submissions must be regrammed by the contest’s closing date, June 30. This contest is open to United States citizens only.
Thanks to our friends at Shwood for getting involved with us on our latest Instagram contest and, more importantly, for staying true to their values. Creating unique goods with Earth-friendly materials is what we are all about and we are excited that other companies, like Shwood, are getting in on the action.