BOISE, Idaho -- A few years ago, a trio of Treasure Valley entrepreneurs made what some considered to be a risky decision. The Dame brothers, founders of local sustainable eyewear company Proof, turned down not one but two offers from investors on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank.
Some thought the brothers' decision was crazy, but Proof CEO Tanner Dame says it just didn't feel right. “We ended up deciding it wasn't a good fit for our company,” Dame told 6 On Your Side. “[It] wasn't evaluated properly and we turned down the sharks essentially."
Turns out, turning down a shark in a sink-or-swim moment actually meant big things for this small Boise-based company. Dame says they’ve tripled their profits since appearing on Shark Tank, calling it “...the gift that keeps giving."
Proof prides itself on its use of sustainable materials -- like wood and plant-based plastics -- in its line of sunglasses and designer frames, an idea born from years of working in their grandfather's Fruitland, Idaho sawmill.
“We grew up, me and my 2 brothers, sweeping sawdust, working in the mill, in our family business essentially,” Dame explains, “and my...older brother came up with the idea to create a line of wood sunglasses.”
80% of the company's wood, including maples and hardwoods, is sourced from the U.S. and Canada, and while their manufacturing is done overseas, every Proof product carries a Gem State postmark. “We ship all our product, all the stuff is received, inspected here, and then our design, our sales team, our marketing team is here," Dame tells us.
"Here" is Proof's eclectic and cozy flagship store in downtown Boise. But, their innovative Idaho product reaches far beyond the City of Trees. “We sell our product throughout the world,” Dame explains. “We have distribution in Australia, Japan, in Europe, Central and South America."
All of it, "proof” that going big doesn't mean you have to leave your small town roots behind. “This day and age,” Dame says, “we can be in Boise and do what we're doing and still be on the forefront of what we think is fashionable."
Beyond creating eyewear that is good to the earth and the environment, Proof also believes in doing good. So for every Proof frame purchased, they donate ten dollars to a non-profit that supports health, vision, and education efforts across the globe.
Want to check out Proof and their latest eyewear line? Find them here!