Once you’ve read the interview check out their products on their website!
BW: I’m stoked to finally get my act together and catch up with you guys! Could you give me your name and role in the Shwood company?
TM: Taylor Murray – Brand Manager
BW: How long have you been involved in Shwood and when and where was Shwood established?
TM: I started the company with four other gents back in June of 2009. Our woodshop and offices are based in Portland, OR.
BW: Could you give me a brief explanation of your product and what materials (types of wood) you’ve used in your products?
TM: We focus on handmade wooden eyewear. Everything from re-sawing and lens cutting to shaping and finishing is conducted in-house. Our frame styles are modeled after classic silhouettes such as the wayfarer and aviator. We use a variety of sustainably-harvest woods from all over the world. Our current lineup of woods includes Zebrawood, Cherry, East Indian Rosewood, and Walnut.
BW: What is your guys’ headquarters like? Is it still in a buddy’s basement or have you guys acquired an office/warehouse?
TM: Haha, we’ve stepped it up a bit since the days of working in a shack with no heat. We’ve got a nice manufacturing facility in Portland that employs about 20 people.
BW: What gave you guys the idea to make wooden sunglasses? Everyone that I’ve met is so stoked on your product, I just got back from a trip to Dubai where the locals out there were approaching me randomly and taking photos of the glasses… Not often will you find a product that causes so much general hype!
TM: Eric Singer, the founder of Shwood came up with the idea about five years ago. He has always been an avid woodworker and the idea struck him randomly one day. So he walked into his backyard, chopped a limb off a Madrone tree and hand-carved a pair of shades from a single piece of wood. We all thought the idea was incredibly unique, so we got to work on R&D which has led us to today.
BW: What goes into making a pair of wooden sunglasses? What do you start with when you make a pair, a 2×4 of wood? How much of the process is done with a CNC or equivalent computer/machine aided cutting device and how much is done by hand?
TM: The process begins with full size lumber and ends with a pair of shades. Everything in between is done in our workshop. The vast majority of the work is conducted by hand to ensure precise attention to detail. Shwood is a truly handmade product, no one else is making wooden shades the way we do.
BW: I see that you guys use polarized lenses in a lot of your products, any words to add regarding your lens selection for the sunglasses?
TM: We only use premium Carl Zeiss lenses.
BW: How long would it typically take to make a pair of sunglasses?
TM: A long time, but it’s worth the wait!
BW: If you were going to seperate a pair of the sunglasses up into all of its individual parts, how many pieces would you get? They look simple to the naked eye, but I can imagine that they’re quite involved.
TM: Sorry, I can’t answer that. We’ve gotta keep some secrets!
BW: I’ve been told before that the older models of the glasses didn’t allow the arms to bend outwards, I guess you guys added some sort of springed hinge… That being said, what sort of evolution have you seen in the production of the sunglasses since day 1? What sort of evolution should we expect in the future?
TM: The glasses have grown by leaps and bounds since the first pair carved by hand. We’ve discovered new ways to efficiently increase production while maintaining the same handcrafted quality and aesthetic. We tinker on our product every singe day, and are constantly improving our designs and process in order to make the highest quality wooden glasses in the world. That’s the beauty of keeping production in-house, it gives us the opportunity to oversee the product from start to finish and continually implement new ideas.
BW: Do you guys have plans to make any other wooden products?
TM: It’s certainly possible, but for now we are focused on perfecting the glasses before moving on to anything else.
BW: I first saw the Shwood product at Sitka Surfboards in Victoria, where I instantly fell in love and purchased my own pair… To be honest, when I first saw them I couldn’t stop thinking about them for about 3 days before I actually bought them! I figured that Victoria, BC, was a ‘random’ place to sell your product, how many store locations do you sell out of and where’s the farthest reaching location from Oregon?
TM: We sell in about 75 locations around the world. Our distribution in Japan is very strong.
BW: Onto a more personal and important question… Do you skimboard or know much about it? I’m sure it was pretty random to have a dude from a skimboarding website out of British Columbia, Canada, contact you regarding your product!
TM: I’ve skimboarded a couple times but usually spend more time falling down then riding the wave. I swallow about a gallon of saltwater every time I’ve gone.
BW: Thanks a lot for your time, like I mentioned previously I’m so stoked on your product and am excited to do what I can to help promote what you guys have done.