This article is part of a series I launched at Social Change Nation – I interview Purpose Driven entrepreneurs from around the world for my podcast, and now you’re getting the inside scoop on the lessons they are teaching me…I’m sharing these with you so that we can learn together from these change agents. So, whether you’re a purpose driven entrepreneur, want to be one, or hope to learn more about cause based entrepreneurship, stay tuned. I’ll publish a new one of these 3x per week for at least a month – and even longer if you all love it & comment on it. Want to keep up? Then follow me on umano.me, subscribe to my podcast, or just link up with us at socialchangenation.com. Either way, sit back and join in as we learn about the stories of world changing entrepreneurs.
Vincent, co-founder of Panda, is an entrepreneur at heart – but he’s also an incredible change agent who founded, and continues to run, this revolutionary company. Panda started for Vincent and a few other college buddies as a side project – it’s mission? To create sustainable sunglasses that have a purpose. Fastforward to a kickstarter campaign and a few large retail deals later, and Panda is now a serious player on the sustainable sunglass market. Here’s how it works: they create sunglasses out of bamboo – one of the most sustainable materials on the planet. This means the sunglasses look wicked cool & insanely unique. But here’s the best part – each pair of sunglasses you buy gives the gift of vision to a child in need in a developing country around the world.
The thing I love most about Panda is the way that Vincent is personally connected to the cause. As I was interviewing him – you could hear his truth and genuine nature shining through. And Vincent himself has battled vision impairment, so he is personally connected to this cause – it’s this personal connection to a cause that I’m finding is vital for success as a cause based entrepreneur.
Vincent also has a great deal to show us about becoming part of a movement – everyone who rocks a pair o’ Panda sunglasses becomes a crusader for the Panda cause because the sunglasses look so unique and because the story of ‘gift of vision’ is built into each one, or, as Vincent says “our customers become agents of change”.
In sum: Vincent and crew have created the most stylish and unique sunglasses I’ve ever seen. That, coupled with the incredible social mission and use of sustainable materials makes Panda my sunglass supplier of choice.
So what were my key takeaways?
1.) It’s not enough to just give to a cause. Your products must make statements too. By making sunglasses out of Bamboo, Vincent and crew are showing the wasteful sunglass industry how to be sustainable.
2.) Build partnerships. Panda’s sunglasses became the official sunglasses of the US soccer team, and many other big names have adopted them. Find people who love your movement, and have movements of their own to spread the word to, and you won’t regret it.
3.) Be absolutely authentic. Vincent is a world changer. Ya, he has a business, but he studied social change at Georgetown, and you can totally tell that Panda is an extension of his genuine self – someone who believes both in world changing fashion and world changing purpose.
Want more stories of purpose-driven entrepreneurs? This story originally appeared in our Social Good Guide – 50 businesses. 50 causes. 50 ways to change the world. You can find them all at socialgoodshopping.com.