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Sunglasses e-tailer Waveborn looks for other partners for social good

Waveborn, a "social good" sunglasses e-tailer headquartered at Punchrock in Adams Morgan, is shifting gears and building B2B relationships in an effort to sell its buy-one, give-one glasses wholesale, rather than one at a time to individual consumers.

The company, founded in 2011, is also looking for additional social good companies interested in reaching the B2B market.
Waveborn's business model has giving at its core. Consumers buy a pair of sunglasses for $180, and for each pair purchased, Waveborn provides one pair of prescription eyeglasses to someone in need. The prescription lenses are distributed through Unite for Sight, a nonprofit CEO Mike Malloy calls "the Peace Corps for eye clinics." Waveborn has also developed a partnership with a second nonprofit, SEE (Surgical Eye Expeditions) International, to partially fund sight-saving eye surgeries in underserved areas of the world.
Waveborn's message resonated with consumers. In April, the company set launched a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of $10,000 and met its goal in a day and a half. Now the company is looking to give back on a larger scale, by partnering with other companies that also have social missions and want to sell large quantities of product.
"We're trying to build partnerships with social good companies," Malloy explains. Waveborn is now working with the online marketplace POPMarket to create a "social" category on its site, which would allow users to shop for products that give back. Malloy would like to bring other socially conscious brands into that part of the wholesale market.
Until recently, Waveborn primarily marketed its product directly to consumers through its own website, as well as through optometrists' and ophthamologists' offices. Malloy realized that his company could have a much greater impact by going the wholesale route, by "moving hundreds of thousands [of glasses] at a time. [POPmarket] streamlines the entire wholesale buying process," he explains. 
Ideally, Malloy would like to create a "social good supply chain. We need to change the way consumers think about moving products. Now, we take part of the mark-up and we donate it." In the future, that could mean that "every time a product goes to the next part of the chain, $5 is donated to a charity that is important to you."
"We're a for-profit company," Malloy says, "but we want to help others, too."

A previous version of this article said that Mike Malloy founded the company. Elevation DC regrets the error.

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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