What is Big Bear?
My name is Rick
I'm a husband, foster of kittens and I also have a fairly extreme sensitivity to light. I wear sunglasses the majority of the time I'm outside, even if it's cloudy.
Not being one for brand names (or their prices), I frequently purchased sunglasses from gas stations, grocery stores, Walmart etc. Most of which I wouldn't recommend and only lasted a few months (at best).
Time for an upgrade
I finally decided to break down and buy a quality pair of shades, or that was the plan anyway. I purchased a pair of name brand aviators for around $150 and they looked super sweet, they were not however very comfortable. After a few hours of wear my nose would get sore and I'd have to take them off.
(they left pretty sweet indents on my face too)
The nose piece eventually fell off, the arm got bent and I had to discard them but I learned a valuable lesson.
Big brand name doesn't always equal quality and the price is whatever they can get you to pay for them. Those aviators weren't really all that different than the sunglasses I used to buy. I'd soon learn why that was...
"Lenscrafters founders Charles Dahan and E. Dean Butler in an interview in 2019, both admitted glasses today are marked up nearly 1,000 percent."
When hearing that some glasses sell for $800 in the US, Butler laughed. “I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s a complete rip-off.”
What does 1000% markup look like?
So $150 sunglasses I purchased likely cost around $15 to manufacture. I can certainly appreciate companies have to make a profit, we're in the same boat.
But how much is too much? 1000 seems excessive.
After a bit of research (and a bit of math) I determined that I could do better.
It was shortly after reading the Vox article that the concept of Big Bear was born. Armed with a background in manufacturing and sourcing, I thought surely I could make a quality product and sell it for a reasonable price.
The First Pairs
I began recieving the first pairs, squared matte black frames, green tinted lenses. I chose an acetate that was a lot more enviornmentally friendly than traditional plasic.
I took inspiration from one of my favorite watches, my Seiko 6105, popularized in the 1970's by Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. This is the vintage inspiration behind our shades.
Having always been a big fan of the 70's era diver watches with the black rubber strap, I opted for a matte finish. This also makes them resistant to showing a bunch of finger prints. I chose hinges were a brushed, nickel color similar to the watch.
The goal was to create a stylish, quality pair of shades that I would want to wear every day.
Enter the Beastmaster
My beautiful wife and partner for over a decade, tamer of beasts and purveyor of treats has worked in animal shelters for almost 10 years. She is directly responsible for saving and improving the lives of thousands of animals over her tenure.
Her work also opened my eyes to troubles that many former pets go through once they're in the shelter system.
Advocating for animals is something we've always been extremely passionate about, our goal is to grow that concept to be able to help as many as we can.
Meet Big Bear
Our latest foster failure turned brand ambassador.
Big Bear (a.k.a Lulabelle) is our 4th rescue dog and inspiration behind both the name and cause of our company. Now a wonderful friend and companion there was a time were Big Bear's future wasn't so bright.
Roughly 6.5 million animals enter US shelters every year, less than half of the animals that enter shelters get adopted. We want to help those animals in finding their forever homes.
Commerce for a Cause ℠
Our shades are the result of over 2 years of designing, prototyping, sourcing and manufacturing the best pair of sunglasses we could, while keeping them affordable enough for everyone to enjoy. We built a product that we can not only be proud of but one that we use daily.
We sell these sunglasses so that we can help. Commerce for a Cause is the idea that we can channel our powers for good and use commerce as a way to raise money for something we feel passionately about.
Building a better brand
Brand names originated as marks of quality, a name that stood behind a good or service to instill confidence in customers that someone is accountable for the product they were purchasing. While we certainly stand behind our products we also believe we should be accountable for a bit more than just a great pair of shades.
We believe that every company has the responsibility to give back to their community and at Big Bear, we put that front and center. Every pair of Big Bear sunglasses sold we donate a portion of proceeds to humane animal shelters & rescues here in the United States. Our vision gets a bit bigger than just donating though...
Shades for Shelters® is our vision of combining our love of quality eyewear with our commitment to animal welfare.