Proof Eyewear is pioneering sustainable eyewear by producing sun and optical frames using unique materials like wood, cotton-based acetate, and recycled aluminum. Although the company was technically founded in 2010, the three Dame brothers trace its roots back to 1954 when their grandfather Bud started a sawmill. Taylor, Brooks, and Tanner Dame grew up with sawdust in their veins working in the family mill and exploring the great outdoors of Idaho. The inspiration to start the brand began when founder, Brooks, was brainstorming ideas around consumer-facing wood products. With Brooks moonlighting at Proof while also working his day job, the company was managed out of his garage with one laptop and a rack of sunglasses.
Proof stands firm on three principles: heritage, sustainability, and giving back. Watching their grandfather and father run the family business also instilled a sense of entrepreneurialism in the brothers—making them the perfect candidates for the Fiverr + Yankees #TheGameChanger contest. As one of five winning brands, they flew out to New York to see their brand advertised in Yankees Stadium, celebrate with the Fiverr team and Yankees superstar Johnny Damon, and receive $1500 in Fiverr credit. Watch their winning entry below and then read on as CEO Tanner Dame tells us a bit more about the brand, what drives him as an entrepreneur, and what we can expect from Proof Eyewear next.
Tell us a little about yourself. Who you guys are, where you’re from, and a little more about Proof.
My brothers and I started the company in 2010. Growing up in Oregon and Idaho, we spent a lot of time working in our family’s sawmill, which ultimately inspired our love for business. We had been working with wood most of our lives, and more importantly, we were good at it. We decided to turn our skills and passion into a business, and with that, Proof was born. Proof is a sustainable eyewear brand – we create our product from unique materials like wood, cotton-based acetate, and recycled aluminum.
Tell us about your brand. What inspired you to start it—and what are your goals for the future?
Our design is often directly influenced by our surroundings. Being in the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains, we tend to draw inspiration from nature. Our goal is to become a household name when it comes to sunglasses. We want to continue to create more philanthropic projects abroad and inspire people to find more sustainable ways to create everyday products.
How have you used Fiverr to make your business ideas a reality? Any favorite projects and/or Fiverr sellers?
We have used Fiverr for voice-over work for videos, SEO, and more recently, stop-motion graphics and illustration. We also plan on creating infographics using Fiverr over the next few months.
What inspired you to enter #TheGameChanger and how did you go about putting together your video submission?
It’s an opportunity to highlight what makes us unique, and to gain more exposure in the NY market – which is huge for us. We are a small brand with limited resources, but having the connection and skills that Fiverr provides at our fingertips is game-changing.
What motivates you as an entrepreneur? Why do you do what you do?
We love what we’re doing and believe in the product, but more importantly, we believe in the mission of Proof. We’re creating more than just eyewear, we’re creating a product that gives back to the earth and people around the world. Being able to think of an idea and talk about the details, planning, production, execution and then see it come together is what makes it all really meaningful.
What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs just beginning their business journey?
The biggest thing is jumping in and doing it. It’s easy to postpone when you think “one day” or “once this happens” but, if you really believe in your idea and have a plan – go for it. The timing is never perfect, samples are never exactly what you want – there is always going to be something that prevents you from moving forward, but start small. Start small and be smart about it. Remember, you don’t have to invest tens of thousands of dollars to create a successful company.
Want to experience a day in the life of a doer? Follow along as the Tanner and the Proof team take over our Instagram account on 10/19.