Late Summer 2014
The summer of 2014 was one of the most exciting yet. For the past year we had been designing new styles and adding to our library of eyewear. New designs focused on different hardwoods and experimenting with acetate color contrasts. Upon making a full sample line, we were contacted by British GQ to feature our eyewear as one of the best sunglasses for summer.
Just as we were starting to grow again, we fell into a hole without product. The New Jersey Herald had written a rather large article on our company, and we started getting a lot of recognition from our home state. That was truly an amazing feeling. We set forth to designing newer, and even better styles. Having some experience in the industry now, we had expectations and more difficult goals. We did not want to just create something to have product. Each piece is designed by hand with a very personal touch. Drawing, erasing, drawing, erasing, drawing, erasing, became quite a regular habit. Perfection takes time. After months of changing our designs we had finally settled on a brand new collection.
Being involved with different events has always been something we've tried to do. Whether it be an actual trade show or just something for fun, it's cool to engage the brand with a lot of people. Back in our home state of New Jersey we sponsored a Rail Jam. We were fortunate enough to have people back home supporting the brand and offering to help run the booth!
In the months prior, we had relocated our company to a climate that revolves around the sun, Huntington Beach, California. Staying true to our roots, we designed our all-new Elwood with an exotic hard wood called Zebrawood. It has beautiful grain patterns and a rich color. With a relatively new group of friends and supporters out in California, we coordinated a beach photo shoot. We had to let people know we were now in California, right? Within a month of our release, an online account had purchased our entire inventory. It gives us chills just thinking about that day. As any start-up company would feel, it was one of the most amazing feelings to explain. We were grateful, relieved, and excited like none other. We started to see our sunglasses advertised along some of the industry's finest, like Hurley and Billabong. Could you imagine?
From October 2012 to January 2013, we noticed the largest growth in our company. We changed the name to Brushwood and started to build a bigger foundation. We grew larger, not only with customers, but with our knowledge in the industry. Not only did we started attending a number of vision trade shows, but we started prototyping our own sunglasses. We utilized every resource we had possible. After spending hours and hours at a friends house in Jersey City, we had designed a fill line of sunglasses. They started from a hand-draw design, to a rough computer edit, to a 3-D visual, to the actual product. Having used some wood from our high school's wood shop, we visited a number of wood shops in New Jersey to start preparing the wood. A bandsaw was the best machine we could use to get the wood cut nice and thin to place in a laser cutter. Rather than sending a design straight to a manufacturer, we wanted to know everything about our sunglasses. We learned to design, cut, and bend the wood. Although we're not the biggest fans of a wooden frame, for the sake of building our own, this was the easiest solution considering we did not have molds for the acetate frames. In February 2012, we released a brand new product under a brand new name.
After nearly one year of preparation, we were finally ready to sell our product. After utilizing some friends at colleges around the country, we hired our first sales representatives. It was the perfect "in" for our products. With a few ups and downs, our reps started to pull in some attention to the brand. We also started to sponsor longboarders and surfers. In order to reach out to a market, we knew we had to find some of the best in the industry to get us there. We cannot thank Brian Bishop and Nick Menditto enough for sticking with us through the upbuilding of our brand. These two guys are incredible individuals who continue to see our brands vision. With Bishop's huge success in skating, we started to see our clothing and sunglasses places we never thought was possible. We started to receive emails and phone calls from stores around the country. It was truly an amazing feeling. We started to do some over-the-phone interviews and set up our accounts to sell our sunglasses. Before we knew it, within 5 months of our release, we had completely sold out of our first line of sunglasses! With little anticipation of how quickly product would move, we fell into a hole without product. We had so many people reaching out to us asking for product, but we simply had nothing left.
With our new product ready to showcase, we decided to attend our first event. The event was set locally in our hometown. We knew that appearance was everything. As a group of younger adults, we knew that in order for customers to take us serious, we had to put on a professional presentation. We bought a pop-up tent, built a display case out of bamboo that we literally cut down ourselves, played some music at the tent, handed out free waters for the hot day, and had some amazing friends hand out flyers we designed to bring attention to our booth. All in all, we believe the event went amazing. We received our first exposure in our town and it was the first step in our journey.
This was one of the biggest changing points in our business. Although we were having a lot of fun selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, and tanks all with our infamous roots logo, we wanted to expand our business. We decided to venture into the sunglasses game. We wanted to create something new for sunglasses. There are so many sunglass brands out there, and knew we needed something different. We didn't want to re-invent the wheel, just make it better. From the end of 2010 to the beginning of 2011, we set forth to design the first ever sunglasses constructed of bamboo temples attached to an acetate frame. At the time, we were the first on the market to originate this idea. It was ingenious. It was something no one had seen. It was environmentally friendly, yet fashionable. At the time, there was a very selective few brands experimenting with an all wood pair of sunglasses. It was an interesting idea, but at the same time we believed it was not very fashionable. It was different, which was cool, but was not very practical. We built sunglasses that everyone wanted to wear. The Classics were constructed with bamboo temples, acetate frames, and polarized polycarbonate lenses. To top it off, we had laser engraved our name "Roots." on the side. To this day, we still receive emails from customers asking for the originals.
Having a group of supportive friends and family goes a long way. After devising our first photo shoot plan, we reached out to a few of our close friends and our buddy, Jesse Murch, to photograph the whole thing. We started in Hoboken, NJ where we all stood uncomfortably in front of a camera for our first times. We then all picked up and drove to Sandy Hook, NJ to capture the most epic sunset we've probably all ever witnessed. All in all, this one the first time we pulled everyone together as a business and had one of the most amazing days.
After much preparation, we set the business in stone and started working towards our goals. Being new to the industry, we knew we needed professional help in order to legitimize our business. We were very fortunate to have a few friend's parents either be lawyers and accountants. When it comes to making sure the business is organized properly, we knew we could not take the chance of things having a loop hole. We can't even tell you how much of a difference that made in our business!
Like most companies, we started with an idea. After having a passion in the fashion industry, an idea to create a non-profit clothing company aspired. Brand founder, Justin Junior, and a long-time friend had originated an idea to raise money and travel the world donating to various charities in need of help. Sounds like a pretty amazing idea, right? Without any prior business knowledge, we soon realized how difficult it was going to be to achieve that idea. It was not impossible, but definitely a difficult one. After doing some early reconsideration, we decided to change the idea slightly. We decided to build a profitable clothing company, but keep the same giving mentality in mind. After throwing around a few different names for our company, we had finally picked one that told a story in one word. It told everyone who we are and where we come from.