At Noble Vision Group we’re always on the lookout for innovative new companies and products in the eye care industry. It just so happens that Shwood, one of the most promising new eyewear manufacturers in the country, is located right here in our home state of Oregon.
Shwood is a great success story born out of creativity and hard work. The company, currently headquartered in Beaverton, OR (soon relocating to SE Portland), manufactures stylish sunglasses made out of exotic wood from around the world.
The company’s founder, Eric Singer, carved his first pair of Shwood glasses out of a tree branch from his neighbor’s yard. He wore the clunky, primitive glasses everywhere he went and began to receive several inquiries as to where he got them.
Singer began crafting more glasses on his own and eventually teamed up with four business partners, who pooled together $20,000 to launch their own brand. Shwood launched their website in 2009 without any significant outreach efforts, but managed to bring in more than 200 orders in the first week.
To meet the demand, the company moved to larger shop in Beaverton, where they now employ 20 people, manufacturing up to 150 glasses a day. As demand for Singer’s wooden specs continues to grow, the company is looking to expand further into a larger building.
Since the launch of its website in 2009, the company has cleverly branded itself through its web presence. The main webpage has a stylish design with vintage-style photos, reflecting Shwood’s quirky, “off the beaten path” image, while its blog, titled “Experiment with Nature” showcases videos, interviews, art projects, and more, staying true to the company’s vision of craftsmanship and creativity.
In an innovative marketing campaign last summer, the founders of Shwood headed into the woods of Mt. Hood National Forest to build a “backcountry nest.” They left clues along the trail pointing visitors in the direction of the “nest” and posted a video of the trip on their blog, along with some details about its location. Blog visitors were challenged to find the “nest” and add to its structure. The first person to locate the “nest” would be greeted with a free pair of Shwood glasses inside. Just a few days after the video was posted, the company received an email from a blog visitor who had successfully found the “nest” and the free shades.
Every startup can take a lesson from Shwood, as it still operates with the same craftsmanship, creativity, and passion that went into Eric Singer’s first pair of glasses carved out of a tree branch. While the company is growing quickly, the founders have not lost sight of the ideals that got them to where they are today. With some passion, some clever marketing, and strong branding, maybe your company can be the next Shwood.