Genusee produces closed loop, sustainable eyeglasses which are up-cycled from recycled water bottles in Flint, Michigan. Ali Rose VanOverbeke is a Detroit native who saw the devastating impact of the Flint water crisis surrounding Michigan's community. Ali partnered with her classmate, Jack Burns, to come up with a sustainable product that could help the people of Flint while also being a useful item for the population at large.
MADE LOKAL: Almost everyone heard about the water crisis in Flint, but the eco crisis that has resulted, is far less known.
GENUSEE: Flint wasn’t just facing a horrific manmade water crisis, but now they are facing a localized environmental strain due to the fact that they were having to use bottled water for all of their daily needs.
MADE LOKAL: How is the problem manifesting?
GENUSEE: At the height of the water crisis, Flint was using more than 20 million water bottles EVERY day!
MADE LOKAL: Does Flint have the capacity to recycle all of this plastic or is being shipped out elsewhere?
GENUSEE: Currently it is being shipped elsewhere for recycling. This is a problem because other companies and communities are profiting from the fact that has had a man made water crisis.
MADE LOKAL: How many plastic bottles do you need for each pair of glasses.
GENUSEE: We upcycle over 15 single use plastic water bottles for every purchase. We use the bottles fro making the frames, case and even our polishing bags are 50% recycles water bottles.
MADE LOKAL: What is your process for obtaining all the water bottles you need?
GENUSEE: We are currently working with third party vendors that collect and process the bottles.
MADE LOKAL: Genusee will have a buy back program. How will it work?
GENUSEE: When you are ready for a new style, we’ll buy your old Genusee glasses from you, with a credit toward your next pair. Your old pair can be refurbished and resold to more value based customers, donated to those who are in need of corrective vision or recycled back into our material stream.
MADE LOKAL: You are committing to donate a portion of your profits to organizations in Flint. What will be the dollar amount for each pair of glasses and do you know yet what those organizations will be?
GENUSEE: We're donating a minimum of 1% of every purchase to Flint Kids Fund and Flint Promise. Flint Kids Fund focuses on helping children that have been affected by lead poisoning as a result of the Flint water crisis and Flint Promise is a scholarship program for graduates of high schools located in the city of Flint.
MADE LOKAL: There aren’t very many Made in America eyewear companies! Are you planning to keep production in Flint?
GENUSEE: Yes. Currently our supply chain for everything except the hinge manufacturing is inside of an 80 mile radius of Flint and the activities that have the highest amount of job growth will be in our facility in Flint.
MADE LOKAL: The two of you studied at Parsons together. How did you meet there and did you work on any projects together prior to Genusee?
GENUSEE: We initially met in class, but really began collaborating during the Parsons Design Lab fellowship in 2014 and we have since worked on a couple of other projects together.
MADE LOKAL: Congratulations, you were awarded the inaugural CFDA and Accessories Coucil (WWD) micro-grant! What were some of the other winning projects?
GENUSEE: Our long long time friend and schoolmate Lucy Jones of FFORA is amazing and was the one who initially informed us of this program. She took home the lions share of the micro grant and is doing incredible work within the disabilities community.
MADE LOKAL: What types of glasses will be available?
GENUSEE: We are offering both UV tinted and prescription lenses.
MADE LOKAL: How much will each pair of Genusee glasses cost the consumer?
GENUSEE: The glasses will retail for $129 and that includes single vision prescription lenses or tinted UV protected lenses.
MADE LOKAL: Where will Genusee eyewear be available to shop?
GENUSEE: In the beginning we will offer the glasses directly to consumers via our online platform and popups.
MADE LOKAL: You have launched a Kickstarter campaign. By when do people need to donate, in order for the Genusee project to come to fruition?
GENUSEE: Our campaign is live until 5pm EST on Friday May 18th
MADE LOKAL: Where can people support the Kickstarter?
GENUSEE: Genusee Eyewear Kickstarter
MADE LOKAL: What is the minimum donation for your Kickstarter?
GENUSEE: The minimum is $1, but $99 gets you a pair of glasses and that's $30 off the retail price.
Rush to Genusee's Kickstarter campaign and make a donation ASAP! We are super excited about this recycled eyewear product launch. Buying glasses will support the Flint community, not just by recycling their plastic crisis, but will also provide long-term jobs for the people who live there. Any donation to Genusee’s Kickstarter campaign will help them reach their goal!
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