As winter wanes, a Southside startup is banking on the sunny days ahead.
SunFlipz, a brand of sunglasses made with different types of wood, launched this week in Chesterfield.
Founder David Williamson said the company is starting out with a line of seven styles of sunglasses each named for different parts of Richmond.
The Shockoe is made from reclaimed skateboard wood, and the Church Hill is made from bamboo. Other woods used in its glasses include birch, zebra and ebony.
The company for now sells its wares only through its website at $55 to $75.
Williamson, 47, said he hopes to cater to non-beach goers and older people.
“Most sunglasses are really geared to surfers, skateboarders and younger kids,” he said. “I’m trying to broaden the base.”
Williamson, who has a full-time job in higher education, works with an overseas designer and manufacturer and has the glasses shipped to his Chesterfield home. He has stocked up an inventory of about 1,000 pairs of shades so far.
SunFlipz arose out of a small travel service that Williamson started. In the midst of that venture, he started selling necessities for trips to warmer climates like sun block and sunglasses.
He said he was also motivated in part by his own love of sunglasses. Williamson said he owns about 15 different pairs of sunglasses; the most he’s ever spent on a pair of shades was more than $200 for a pair of Revo sunglasses.
“When they first came out, they were very basic,” said Williamson of sunglasses. “What I wanted was something different. I wanted to add more design, color and material.”
SunFlipz isn’t the only local startup in the sunglasses game. Nectar launched in the Fan in 2011 selling shades that start at $20 apiece. The company has since added shirts, hats and watches to its product line and distributes all over the world, founder Sean Holmes said this week.
Williamson, who is financing his startup himself, said he sees similar expansion potential for the SunFlipz brand. He said he’s waiting to see what kind of demand there is for SunFlipz before he tries to get its sunglasses on local store shelves.
“I’m trying to build more of a brand rather than just selling sunglasses,” Williamson said. “This is just somewhere for me to start.”