GVSU grad starts sustainable sunglasses company

By Natalie Lussier | 2/4/15 9:27pm

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GVL / Courtesy Nick Mortimer


Quality sunglasses can take a financial toll, especially for college students on a tight budget. The commonality of losing or breaking sunglasses contributes to the toll, but what if you could reduce these factors along with adding some perks?

Grand Valley State University graduate Nick Mortimer offers a solution through his company RawWood Shades: high quality sunglasses that are not only affordable, but also environmentally-friendly.

Mortimer graduated in 2014 with a degree in environmental chemistry and a minor in environmental studies. After that, he decided to start the company with very little business experience and with the intent to create a sustainable product.

The sunglasses are made from bamboo and are priced between $30 and $40. Bamboo makes less of an environmental impact than the usual petroleum-based plastic frames and also floats so customers can avoid losing their sunglasses at the bottom of a lake.

Bamboo is affordable and grows at a faster rate than hardwoods. It also takes in a larger amount of carbon dioxide, creating more oxygen in the same amount of time as hardwood. This makes bamboo more of an environmentally-friendly option.

In addition, RawWood Shades plants a tree for every pair sold through their partnership with Trees for the Future, a nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees globally.

Mitch Patzer, a friend of Mortimer and fellow GVSU graduate, uses his finance degree through RawWood Shades and helps develop new product ideas.

"It's amazing the number of environmental differences one simple product can have- from being made of bamboo to helping plant trees through our partnership with Trees for the Future," Patzer said.

RawWood ships globally and has shipped to over 20 countries and approximately 90 percent of the United States. Mortimer said he would like to see his company lead the way in sustainable fashion as a whole.

"Being able to give back to the environment in a multitude of ways with this company excites meā€¦Planting at least a tree per pair is great, but we'd love to do even more," Mortimer said. "The possibility of this going forward encourages us to work harder at what we do, so we may have more opportunities to improve our natural surroundings in various ways."

To order or learn more about the company, visit their page at www.rawwoodshades.com/.

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