If you told us about these hailing passionate imposters of surfers from Byron Bay, Australia that could beautifully craft a pair of sustainable organic, environmentally responsible bamboo eyewear from maple, ebony and walnut. We mighten have not believed it.

Grown Eyewear a local label, do a very fine job of keeping those rays of sunshine from hurting our eyes or even leaving a squinty face. What’s, more, they come with fancy names such as BODHI and MERAKI, and also have this special formula leaving it with a polished effect that protects them from the elements of a scratched up mess, mixed with some wild, aristocratic natural wooden tones that is masterly well –bred to plonk on your face.

On top of all that, this passionate group of surfers donates life to one orphaned or injured Australian animal through their giving partner WIRES – this gives a big tick from SALTY SWEET.

If you don’t know much about WIRES, here’s a brief explanation.

They have established a coordinated network of wildlife carers to deal with animals that have gone through traumas from car accidents, dogs and cat attacks, fruit netting, fishing line entanglements and power line electrocution and the numbers are increasing by the minute! These selfless volunteers of WIRES have worked timelessly balanced something that they truly love by raising and rehabilitating them and returning them back to their natural environments.

To spruce up your last collection of sunglass pouches and next culture of a laidback trend that we exactly have always wanted. Come pop on over, see their full range of Grown Eyewear, and to keep up to date, head on over here.

I had the greatest pleasure to have the time to talk with Jeff Phillips the owner of Grown Eyewear.


1| Hey guys! We’ll start by saying that always good to see Australian brands killing it. Tell us briefly about your journey in getting where you guys are today.

Thanks!  It really started out organically and we wanted to put quality before we grew too big. A lot of companies rush to get products made and we knew that to build a strong following, we first needed to build strong products that we could stand behind. To do this we essentially needed to start from scratch and reinvent the way that wooden sunglasses had been made in the past. It wasn’t easy, and there was a lot of prototypes, but happy to say that it paid off.

2 | Does the name for the brand have any particular significance?  

Grown does have some significance, its a bit of a two part answer. Being that we were developing this brand with a conscious approach at the forefront (at that time we were partnered with Fred Hollows Foundation and for Every pair sold we were funding sight restoring eye surgery for 1 person! – Because of this over 1000 people had their sight restored in the first 6 months!) We felt like we were really taking steps to grow as individuals. At the same time, the material for our products were being ‘grown’, so it just made sense to run with that!

3 | What is a day in the life of Grown Designs?

The last 6 months have been really hectic with the development of our new websites and products for the new collection. When we are not revamping the collection and website, we can usually be found spending a bit of time looking for new design ideas and inspiration online.  We tend to have a lot of conference calls to our office in Canada as well and are continually looking for new ways to reach new customers and get the word out there about our products.

4 | What’s at the core of why you design such a sustainable mark in the eyewear industry? What motivates and moves you?

I think by putting something unique out there like wooden sunglasses, it is a talking point.  When people see them on someone, it leads to a discussion not only about the product, but also about sustainability in general. I probably have a stranger approach me everyday and ask about the sunglasses, so it has been great way to gain customers while opening peoples eyes to different ways of doing things.

5 | With the sea of lack of innovation in this particular industry, how does Grown Designs position and differentiate from the masses?

It’s a struggle to be noticed these days, so innovation is key.  We do get a lot of new customers come from word of mouth, not only from friends, but as mentioned above from strangers wearing our products.  People want to see something new,  or perhaps, if something is not new they don’t see it at all.   Of course, great exposure in traditional media has helped us a lot as well! Shark tank and the price is right were probably our two biggest traffic spikes to date.

6 | How did you discover a need for this type of product in the marketplace?

Wood sunglasses are not new, and in fact, there have been companies experimenting with them for over 50 years.  We had seen a pair from overseas, and they were cool, but they were just really bulky and weren’t at the stage where they should be selling them.  We just thought  ‘these are really great… but we can do better’. Basically, we trusted our gut instinct that if we can improve the design, people will want them.

7 | What has been the most difficult aspect of getting your brand off the ground and to overcome that?

It’s an ongoing struggle to stand out from the noise.  With Facebook changing their algorithm last year, brands are in rough shape (essentially you have always had to pay to find fans, but now you have to pay for them to see your posts as well). Good marketing has always relied on doing things differently, rather than just doing what your competitors do – so we tend to test new options every week. The struggle is real and only the creative survive.

8 | What do you want the consumer to ultimately experience and express while wearing your designs?

I think this is the one thing that we have really nailed. As sunglasses are usually the first thing people see on others (after all they are staring right at you!) and ours are clearly made of wood, they do tend to get a lot of compliments.  I think that our customers really appreciate this and that experience is what keeps them coming back!

9 | Where do you find the inspiration for new collections?

Inspiration can come from anywhere, but the engraved designs have come from my own sketches or from things like pattered earrings or artwork. For the actual shape of the sunglasses, we are looking back in time for inspiration.  Things like clothes and fashion tend to have a cyclical pattern and we can see that inspiration from the 50’s and 60’s designs is increasing throughout most industries.

10 | What’s next for Grown Designs?

We have just launched the new brand image, websites and collection as well as two photo campaigns, so the next thing to do is have a beer and take it all in.  Then, we’ll continue designing the next collection tomorrow 🙂


salty sweet.