Founded by two Americans, Mantra is a sunglass company and social enterprise. For every pair of sunglasses purchased, they'll donate a pair of corrective lenses to a child in need in rural Yunnan.
Co-founders Andrew Shirman and Sam Waldo both taught middle schoolers in Yunnan as part of the Teach for China program. During their assignments, Shirman noticed that his kids were struggling to keep up with the material, but not for the reasons he expected: The students had trouble deciphering the blackboard, and few had the means to afford eye exams, let alone glasses.
In 2012, Shirman founded Education in Sight (EIS), an NGO that funds eye exams and glasses for kids and young adults who come from limited means. EIS is the sister organization of Mantra. The company operates on a one-for-one principal similar to TOMS shoes or Warby Parker glasses. For every pair of sunglasses sold, EIS donates a pair of glasses to a child who needs them. Both founders make frequent trips back to Yunnan, to see old students, scout new donation points, and maintain relationships with the local community.
The sunglass designs are funky and colorful, with many patterns inspired by Yunnan's diverse ethnic minorities. Both frame shapes and colors have exceedingly clever, pun-friendly names such as Yi-lectric or Dai-Mond. They don't skimp on quality, either: they sport top-of-the-line polarized, UV- and scratch-resistant lenses, all sourced from the U.S. They're priced competitively (RMB360) and each pair is for a good cause (and not just the cause of you looking fly).
In addition to the sunglasses, the Mantra kit includes a collapsable case, cleaning cloth, nosepads, and a pamphlet and postcard explaining the EIS-Mantra partnership. Buyers have the option of filling out their information on the postcard, which will be sent back by the recipient of the Mantra-purchased glasses.
Purchase Mantra sunglasses through their WeChat shop (ID: findyourmantra). They also pop up at creative markets and bazaars around Beijing. Subscribe to their WeChat account for the latest updates.
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