While most are looking for their last-minute internships, Eastern Michigan University economics major Wes Stoody was busy launching his eyewear line called Article One. Motivated to help children with Vitamin A deficiency, which causes blindness and death, Stoody developed a plan to help out an American city in need.
“I was inspired by people like Blake Mycoskie from Toms,” says Stoody, who, at the time, had zero experience in the optical industry. “I was just naive enough to be like, ‘yeah, I’m gonna start an eyewear brand.'” So for every pair of Article One glasses or sunglasses sold, $2 is donated to Helen Keller International. “At this point we’ve been able to donate enough to get vitamin A supplements to 12,000 kids,” he says.
In 2012, Stoody found an eyewear designer and produced his first collection out of a factory in China during his senior year in college. With the help of friends, family, and his savings, Stoody funded his business and finally moved the company to northern Italy.
Flint, Michigan has been in the news the past year because of the water crisis. The city has been depressed since the 1980’s after the closing for General Motors plants and the decline of job in the automotive industry.
“Flint has obviously had its massive problems, but one of the amazing aspects of Flint is the diverse culture that exists here,” Stoody explains. “For a city of 100,000 people, it’s just so tight-knit. You get to hear about all these amazing things happening in this neighborhood and everyone wants to support anything positive coming out of this city.”