GENUSEE is the change you asked for in sustainability. This concept eyewear is made in Flint, Michigan from recycled single use plastic water bottles. Birthed out of the desire to do good for people and the planet, Genusee is the first closed loop eyewear brand made in the US. For years the manufacturing companies whose jobs have been an institution in Flint have been slowly shrinking their operations, opportunities, and financial flow into the city. But while others shrink back, Genusee marches forward determined to bring a new manufacturing legacy to Michigan.
In early 2016, Genusee’s co-founder Ali Rose VanOverbeke was in her hometown of Detroit volunteering with the American Red Cross during the Flint Water Crisis. While there, she observed the community facing not only a man-made disaster but, also a localized environmental crisis due to the surplus of plastic being brought into the city by NGO’s and aid organizations to meet the community’s daily needs. Convicted, Ali shared her experience with long-term collaborator and co-founder Jack Burns. Together, Ali and Jack began working on a design solution to address issues of plastic waste that would simultaneously create living wage jobs in Flint. They didn’t have an answer to the city’s problems. They simply knew they wanted to help. Genusee was one of six companies to participate in the inaugural Elaine Gold Launch Pad program in partnership with the CFDA and the Accessories Counci (WWD). During their time in the program, the team was awarded a micro-grant to further their business venture in Flint.
“We didn’t set out with the intention of building a business but, rather the desire to help. That desire led us to design a product of purpose and need that could bring a new manufacturing legacy to Flint and address the problem of plastic waste.”
Genusee seeks to launch their first line of sustainable eyewear in the fall of 2018. Their ambition is to bring jobs into Flint and move the waste out! In raising the capital to do so, Burns and VanOverbeke have decided to launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Despite the city’s hardships, Genusee sees potential in Flint and hopes that through their Kickstarter campaign others will too.
Pre-order the glasses HERE now.