Just Human: Ruthlessly Responsible Sunglasses
I had the pleasure of meeting the husband wife duo behind Just Human at an event and immediately fell in love! There is so much story behind this brand that I cannot wait to share with you. With Stacey and Craig both having a background in optics, they saw an opportunity to design a product they wished existed so they left their jobs and invested their savings to start the company. I am wearing the Modern Cat 01. Read more in the interview below:
1.There is no lack of sunglass companies out there, why Just Human?
In starting Just Human, we wanted to create a product that didn’t involve trade offs between style and performance or design and sustainability. We didn’t understand why designer sunglasses were designed only for style while sport sunglasses were designed only for protection and performance. We didn’t want to compromise on either. So we set out to merge both and create a new category of sunglasses using all natural and sustainable materials.
2. You have a strong story line of being "imperfect", hence the name Just Human, can you go further into that and explain why you wanted to embrace it?
We knew developing a sustainable product would be an imperfect journey with lots of challenges, but that didn’t stop us from trying. We want to inspire people to embrace making better choices and not feel it has to be all or nothing. The pressure to be perfect can easily hinder us from doing anything at all. That’s why our name Just Human has a dual meaning; we are all imperfect as humans and we all have the power to be a force for good.
3. What struck me most about Just Human was hearing the sustainability story. Why was this important to you? What were you seeing in the industry and beyond that needed fixing?
One of our goals is to mainstream sustainable luxury. We want to introduce people to a more responsibly made product, but also a product that people would really want. Craig worked in optics for ten years and saw all the waste associated with manufacturing plastic lenses [ie. In the US 6,000+ tons of toxic plastic lens shavings are discarded every year; the wastewater can typically include metals, coolant and other debris that can seep into soil and ground water] and a huge shift with designer brands towards using cheaper and synthetic materials in everything from the frames to the cases. It was important for us to look at the entire system from design and materials to manufacturing and packaging. We knew we could create a better product that felt chic and luxurious using more natural materials.
4. What are the key points of sustainability?
We started with four design principles that would help guide our process:
Chic Circularity – Iconic style and responsible materials, we are focused on the entire system from design and materials to manufacturing and packaging.
Faces Not Gender – Unisex and universal, engineered to fit and function on all face shapes. We want as few designs as possible to be adopted by as many humans as possible.
Functional Design – We researched sports lens technology to design function back into a fashion accessory and develop a better lens for every day.
Made for Forever – One of the most environmentally responsible things we can do is make sunglasses that endure for a lifetime, not a season.
Our frames are made from reforested softwood trees, our glass lenses are made from sand and minerals, our case is constructed from pineapple leaf fibers and our cleaning cloth is made using recycled plastic water bottles.
5. I love to share brands that are what I like to call #doitbetterbrands. Not only does Just Human check the box of sustainability and purchase with purpose with it's forever design, but what about the innovative lens technology?
Craig knew that there was much more innovation and lens technology available that was not being offered off-the shelf. When designing our lenses we researched sport lens technology to put function back into a fashion accessory. We engineered our lenses using mineral glass not only because it’s made from all natural materials, but because glass lenses are the clearest material to look through and also the most scratch resistant and durable compared to conventional plastic lenses. We also use four rare earth minerals that enhance colors and contrast for a very vivid and beautiful experience.
It was equally important for us to include the best protection. UV is a big deal when it comes to our eyes so we designed our lenses with 100% UVA/UVB protection on the front and back of the lens (50% of UV is reflected into the eye from the back of the lens) as well as blue light filtering and glare protection. In addition to our lenses being completely non-plastic, we also upcycle all our lens off-cuts in the manufacturing process into new lenses.
6. What is one piece of advice you have for someone that has a product/business idea in an existing market?
Research and understand the market landscape, have a clear idea of how you fit into that market, and find ways to communicate your authentic brand story.