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Local boy MAKING GOOD

Canby High graduate Eric Singer has doggedly pursued his dream and was recently recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of Americas top young entreprenuers


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Eric Singer working in his shop as he creates a new design for Shwood Eyewear.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Former Canby resident Eric Singer works with wood as he starts the process of producing a unique pair of sunglasses through his company, Shwood Eyewear.Former Canby resident Eric Singer has been recognized by Forbes Magazine in its annual "30 Under 30" celebration of young entrepreneurs who are changing the world.

The Forbes "30 Under 30" recognizes up and comers under age 30 in various fields including finance, Hollywood, music, sports, science, education, art and energy.

Singer grew up in Canby. The family moved to Canby when he was 6-months old. He attended Eccles Elementary School and Ackerman Middle School and graduated from Canby High School in 2005.

Today, he is a founder and owner of Portland area-based Shwood Eyewear, which produces high-end eyeglass frames made of wood and stone. His Oregon background shows in names of his eyeglass frames, such as Canby, Eugene, Haystack and Ashland.

Forbes recognized Singer in the "Art & Style" field.

The magazine noted:

"While working in a movie theater, Singer made sunglasses using orange-colored Madrone branches and thrift store lenses.

He met four guys who liked the glasses and became Singer's partners, selling through a makeshift website.

The glasses caught on. Shwood launched in 2009 and now employs 50 people in Portland..

The glasses sell for as much as $350 online and in 300 stores worldwide including Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Saks."

A people’s choice vote named Shwood Eyewear out of 20 finalists as “America’s Favorite Small Business” in a 2011 national video competition sponsored by Dell computers and MasterCard.

He has come a long way with the sunglasses he started making in his mother’s garage and the back of his 1978 station wagon camped out for the snowboarding season at Mount Bachelor.

His inspiration was the madrone tree growing in his neighbor’s backyard and the gold-orange color of his park. He climbed up, cut a branch and retreated to his workshop. There he melded the idea of wood and sunglasses.

It took him only a day to build his first pair.

“I pulled the hinges off the cabinet in bathroom, ground them down and glued the lenses from an old pair of sunglasses.

“I thought it was really cool,” he said. “It actually worked. I took them down to the local skate park and wore them around there. I got a lot of good responses there.”

He made more, trying different materials, with every pair better than the previous. He was selling them to friends and family for $40.

After he and his partners pooled their money to launch the enterprise, they rented a small shop in Portland and put up a website.

They only told friends and relatives about the website, he said. They could buy sunglasses at a discount and provide feedback on how the system was working.

But a day after they launched their website, a blog found out about it and posted it on the Internet. The next day 50 blogs had it.

“It spread like wildfire, which we were not expecting at all,” Singer said.

Singer, who was then making the glasses himself, had had time to build an inventory of only 20-25 pairs.

They operated under an eight-week backorder the first year, he said.

Singer also found he had misjudged the market for his products. He thought they would appeal most to snowboarders, skateboarders and sports enthusiasts like himself.

Instead, the most orders were coming in from the high fashion meccas of New York and Los Angeles. They did a quick mentality change and aimed their products at that market.by: SUBMITTED PHOTO -



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