Me, Myself and Eye

Business partners Jenny Amaraneni and Craig Stern share a shady goal: selling sunglasses to fund the purchase of corrective eyewear and ophthalmological surgeries for impoverished people worldwide.

The idea for their company emerged from a presentation Amaraneni gave while enrolled at San Diego State University. As part of her undergraduate coursework, she developed a one-minute pitch for a business idea based on a social cause.

Amaraneni’s foresight became reality: her school project evolved into SOLO Eyewear, which, within a year, improved sight by providing 750 pairs of prescription glasses and paying for 105 cataract surgeries.

“We are dedicated to growing SOLO and having the biggest impact possible,” Amaraneni says.

SOLO customers (who can buy shades for $50 to $65 via the company’s website or at the SDSU bookstore) decide whether proceeds from their purchases help pay for glasses or surgeries. Stern hopes such involvement will further motivate SOLO buyers to participate in or initiate additional altruistic acts.

“From the outset, we wanted a brand that inspired people to go out and follow their own amazing dreams and visions,” he says.

SOLO Eyewear temples are made of bamboo, one of the fastest-growing (read: sustainable) plants on the planet. Beyond reducing the use of plastic, Stern foresees the company making a larger impact: forging strategic partnerships with non-profits and jointly improving the lives of millions.

“Our mission is to give the gift of vision and spark a tidal wave of change,” he says. -Carina Calhoun

Eye Contacts

National City-based Knockaround specializes in classically designed shades in a spectrum of bright colors. Snoop Dogg recently rocked the company’s Rasta Premium sunglasses in Jamaica.

Carlsbad-based SPY Optics, famous for its non-fogging lenses for surf and snow, collaborates with athletes and designers, COMBINING action sports WITH technology, style and music.

Headquartered in Kearny Mesa, 9five Eyewear draws its vibe and style from the world of skateboarding.

Encinitas-based Pleasureground Eyewear is inspired by Southern California style: laidback, with an edge.