Seniors Sell Sunglasses for Sight
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A trio of young, talented entrepreneurs have turned their passion for helping others into an eye-opening business. Seniors Taylor Spencer, Ashlyn Okamoto, and Cameron Pascua launched Sunglasses Initiative for Tomorrow’s Eyes (SIFTE) in August to help people who live with visual disabilities. While the business is new, Spencer, the company’s founder and chief executive, has been experimenting with prototyping, designs and plans for over one year.
“We had no idea whether we would succeed or fail. I’m impressed with the start, and we’re moving product almost everyday. It was amazing to see so many people appreciate our efforts and wanted to help,” said Spencer.
Spencer stumbled upon the sunglasses concept as a tenth grader in Mrs. Kimi Frith’s Economics and Entrepreneurship class, which focuses on basic economic principles of business and social entrepreneurship. Spencer learned how to use start-up business techniques to provide solutions to a variety of community issues and to help make a difference in people’s lives. His growing interest in business motivated him to expand his innovative idea. He teamed with classmates who could assist him in areas in which he was not as skilled; Okamoto heads technology and Pascua leads the design and publicity.
While the team’s vision for SIFTE Sunglasses is large, it goes beyond profit and fashion. Spencer and company plan to donate all proceeds to the American Foundation for the Blind, Helping Hands for the Blind, and the Foundation for Blindness.
“All of us agreed that we weren’t trying to make money. We wanted to put our talents, which we plan to pursue as careers, together in a way which would help others,” said Spencer. “We realized that visual disabilities is one of the most overlooked problems today and decided to make that our emphasis.”
With the support from `Iolani’s faculty, students like Spencer have many opportunities to direct their talents toward solving social issues. “Mrs. Frith was a great help in the process of starting SIFTE Sunglasses,” Spencer said. “She was always there to answer my questions, give me advice, and she even got her personal connections to help me get things done.”
Support from teammates has made a critical difference. Pascua manifested Spencer’s company vision into a visual trademark. He designed the logos and engravings on the sunglasses and runs the different social media accounts. “The logo roughly resembles an ‘S’ for SIFTE and sunglasses frames, but what really is important is the eyes in the logo,” said Pascua. “They resemble the eyes of the people we hope to help as they look forward to a brighter future.”
Okamoto put SIFTE onto an online platform. Okamoto, whose interests are computer science and programming, runs the website by making everything look both presentable and professional. She displays Spencer’s vision and ideas on a website that is easy to browse through and is appealing to the eye.
“The website and sunglasses are classy, fun, and hip!” said Mrs. Frith. “It’s really simple to browse through that site, which I love.”
Spencer is beyond grateful for Pascua and Okamoto’s help. “Cameron and Ashlyn have played as big a part of launching SIFTE as I have, said Spencer. “They are amazingly talented, hardworking, and most importantly they are not afraid to challenge my ideas. They don’t see me as someone in charge, and I don’t want them to. We are just three students with the same passion for helping others.”
To view SIFTE sunglasses, check out the links below:
Facebook Page: facebook.com/siftesunglasses