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Corvallis Wooden Sunglasses Craze

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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Two Oregon State University students had a vision of creating more eco-friendly outdoor products, and now, they are already selling biodegradable sunglasses to customers in more than 30 countries.

Matthew Miner and Alex Cruft founded Bosky Optics about two years ago, and are now selling a line of wooden sunglasses.

“Bosky is actually an Old English archaic word,” Miner said. “And it means shade from trees.”

Miner says the duo’s business concept is to create outdoor products that are useful but are also from renewable and recyclable materials.

“We don’t need any more of that plastic stuff ending up in the landfills,” he said.

Miner says wooden sunglasses are actually more durable than plastic, and they are biodegradable.

“They have a triple-layer laminate frame,” he said. “Kind of the same way skateboards are made. So it makes them really durable and they actually end up being more durable than plastic frames. And you can have something that’s totally natural and it still works just as well.”

Miner and Cruft are collaborating with 13 artists around the world, whom they found online. The artists design the carvings on the sunglasses, then the company contracts somebody out to use a laser engraver to carve those designs into the glasses.

“We want to be able to feature more artists and use their work,” Miner said. “And it’s nice because they can actually earn royalties while they’re putting their artwork out there.”

Bosky is using Kickstarter, an online campaign organization, in the hopes of buying its own tools rather than contracting out workers to make the sunglasses for them.

“One of the big reasons we’re trying to raise money on Kickstarter is to buy a laser engraver,” Miner said. “I mean they’re like $4,000 -5,000. They’re really expensive machines. But once we get one, I mean the sky’s the limit.”

The company also wants to buy a carving tool to cut the sunglasses out, but they cost about $250,000. Bosky is also contracting with someone to cut the parts of the sunglasses out of wood.

Kickstarter allows customers to pledge a certain amount of money, and if the company reaches its goal, customers will get products at a discounted price.

But just because the company is raising money does not mean it has not already seen success.

“Honestly we sell more to other countries than we do in the United States,” Miner said. “We’ve sold to over 30 countries.”

The wooden sunglasses company is putting Oregon on the map, and is now getting a little extra help from a Corvallis organization: the OSU Advantage Accelerator.

“I think what the Advantage Accelerator can help us with is really just marketing and hopefully getting really good customer validation stuff,” Miner said. “That’s what we would need the most – is figuring out how to do good marketing; good sales.”

The accelerator program is part of a regional network that helps entrepreneurs in the community, and helps form businesses from research ideas out of OSU.

“My goal is to have something I really believe in that’s obviously not out there so I had to go make it myself,” Miner said.

Bosky also released a line of ski goggles made out of biodegradable materials, and is working on another line to release this winter. For more information about the company’s Kickstarter campaign, click here.

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