To buy a pair of We the People shades, visit the company’s Facebook page at facebook.com/wethepeoplellc .
R ather than starting with a product, University of Colorado students Olivia Leyshock, Lauren Lake and Jackson Tilley decided on their business model first — a model with an emphasis on giving back — and then searched for the product to match.
The students launched their company, We the People, about a month ago with the ultimate goal of giving back, and it wasn’t difficult for these Buffs to decide where their contributions should go.
The company sells sunglasses for $12 each and donates $1 of every sale to the CU Foundation to support scholarships for fellow students.
“We wanted something that would appeal to the college crowd and we thought sunglasses would sell well on campus,” Lake said. “It’s not the sunglasses that are unique — you can get sunglasses anywhere. It’s the donation that’s appealing to our customers.”
So far, the students have sold about 150 pairs of glasses and donated about $150 to the scholarship fund.
The black shades have “We the People” written in gold on the arm and gold-tinted lenses that Leyshock said is catching the attention of black and gold fans across campus.
“We’re playing on the CU pride aspect right now,” Tilley said. “We’re proud to be Buffs, so the hope is, that eventually we can help someone else come to CU who otherwise couldn’t and give them the same experience we’ve had.”
Despite the CU color-scheme, the students said they’ve sold to students at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and friends and family who are not Buffs.
Currently, the company’s product and charity are Buffalo-themed, but the founders said they hope to expand both in the future.
“We’re asking students for suggestions of charities we should get involved in next,” Lake said. “We just thought donating back to CU would be a good way to get students interested and build our brand before switching it up.”
Leyshock said she was inspired to start a charitable company after watching the success of others like Toms, a shoe company that follows a “one for one” business model donating a pair of shoes for every pair sold.
“That’s always been the model, giving back regardless of how prosperous you are,” Leyshock said. “That’s why we started doing it right away rather than waiting until we saw some success as a business.”
Starting a company was an easy decision for the students, who were looking for a fun way to make some extra cash in a city they said makes it easy for entrepreneurs to get started. Running a company will look great on their resumes too, they said, and giving back is something that all three founders said they aspire to.
“It’s kind of a win, win, win,” Tilley said. “It’s good for CU, we’re making a little extra money and it’s fun.”
— Follow Whitney Bryen on Twitter: @SoonerReporter.