Eyewear entrepreneurs are no strangers to the hit reality T.V. show Shark Tank.
We’ve watched over the years as a handful of eyeglass startups presented their wares to the sharks.
So, where are these eyewear companies now? We tracked down updates on three: Pair Eyewear, Proof Eyewear, and Frameri. Each pitched their product to the sharks in search of investment support. One was offered a deal and took it. One was offered multiple deals and turned them down. One was offered a deal and now may regret not taking it.
All three benefited from the Shark Tank bump. (Exposure to the long-running show’s national audience is priceless!) However, not all three have experienced the same level of success.
In Part 1 of this three-part series, we take a look at whatever happened to Proof Eyewear.
Who doesn’t love a good success story? It is uplifting when we watch someone follow their dreams to personal or financial success.
Case in point: Tanner, Brooks, and Taylor Dame.
The Idaho brothers grew up in a wood-manufacturing family with entrepreneurial blood coursing through their veins. Their grandfather, Bud Dame, started the family business, originally called Dame Lumber and Molding Company, more than 60 years ago in Utah. Their father, Kelly Dame, runs the sprawling family business, now called Woodgrain Millworks with headquarters in Fruitland, Idaho. The siblings had a ready-made career ahead of them.
However, the brothers had designs on making their own mark in the world.
Taylor Dame founded Proof Eyewear in 2010 and eventually convinced his siblings to join, forming a new family business. They started by making skis out of bamboo. But soon enough they transitioned to eyewear and found their groove.
The brothers appeared on Shark Tank Season 4 in 2013 to pitch Proof Eyewear. They were looking for a modest investment of $150,000, for 10% equity. The sharks were impressed by the trio’s hand-crafted, wood frames. A pair of sharks even offered separate deals for the environmentally friendly eyewear. But the deals were underwhelming. After consulting with their dad, the brothers came back with a counteroffer. The sharks didn’t bite on the counter. After reconsidering the initial offer, the brothers decided to pass and left without a deal.
To paraphrase the Crusader knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “They chose, wisely.”
During their pitch, the brothers claimed sales of about $400,000. They were looking to double that in one year. Even without a deal, they blew away their expectations that year. Thanks to the Shark Tank bump, Proof Eyewear’s sales reportedly jumped to $1.4 million. The company has been growing ever since.
By 2022, Proof Eyewear was worth an estimated $7.5 million, with annual revenues reaching $6 million.
Since the Shark Tank appearance nearly a decade ago, Proof Eyewear opened a flagship store in downtown Boise, Idaho, and sells its frames in more than 20 countries worldwide.
Through it all, the company has remained committed to sustainability. Its product lineup includes frames made out of recycled wood, such as old skateboard decks, and eco-friendly materials, such as recycled aluminum, acetate, and plant-based plastics. Proof Eyewear also plants five trees for every frame sold, through Eden Reforestation Projects.
Like Taylor Dame said during a spot on a local T.V. station a decade ago, “You gotta respect Idaho, you know. There are some good things there.”
Check back Monday, March 13 for the next installment of this series for whatever happened to Pair Eyewear.
Part 2: Reframing the Direct-to-Consumer Eyewear Market, one “Pair” at a time.