Enbois Sells The Dopest Wooden Sunnies, Contributes To Reforestation & Provides Funding For Rural Schools In Haiti
We are beyond excited to share our interview with Maxim Thuriere, the founder of Enbois! Enbois is an astounding social enterprise selling quality wooden sunglasses and accessories while focusing on the triple bottom line - people planet profit.
Check out this dynamic interview of how one brand has created a global sustainable business model that tackles deforestization and the rehabilitation of Haiti, all while making amazingly crafted products.
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How do you define sustainability?
My best definition of sustainability would simply be balance. In terms of business and natural resources, I like to use the metaphor of stepping into a pool waist deep and slowly taking steps forward so as not to cause waves or a break in the surface. The goal is to make forward progress without causing a disturbance to your surroundings.
When and what inspired the start of Enbois? What does the name mean?
The name Enbois means “made of wood” or literally “in the woods” in French. The name was inspired by my Haitian and French background and describes the essence of our products . The start of the venture was really just a creative passion that turned into something larger when i started organizing my ideas into a certain natural theme.
Photos courtesy of Enbois
Why is your social entrepreneurship work focused in Haiti?
Haiti is home. In my opinion, leadership and entrepreneurship are most easily translated and attained within your own community.
What does "renewable resources" mean? What exactly are the renewable materials that you use? How is this a better option then traditional sun glasses made from plastic?
Because of its strength and ability to be morphed and shaped into any dimension, plastic may seem like a great option at first for any engineer or designer looking to create a product. However, the manufacturing of plastic as well as its disposal pollutes our air, land and water. Even if plastic is disposed properly in a landfill it can take an eternity to break down, and when it does, harmful chemical can be released into groundwater and surrounding waterways, affecting all species that benefit from the ecosystem. Renewable resources refers to materials that have an endless supply and can be easily replenished naturally or biologically. The renewable materials that we use are mainly natural fast growing woods, hemp, cotton, acetate (plant based plastic), and recycled paper products for shipping materials.
How did you come up with a business model that essentially uses trees to create your product while simultaneously focusing on reforestation efforts?
Not only did we want to use a material that was easily renewable but we wanted to take it a step further and contribute to reforestation efforts. Since inception, there was always a social responsibility implemented within the business. In 2015, we first partnered with a small school in rural Haiti providing funding for after school programs. Once the program finished we took the opportunity to explore efforts that would be more in line with the product we were selling. It made perfect sense for us to get involved in the world of reforestation.
Your products focus on social and environmental contributions at every stage of the products lifecycle - how do you work to educate Americas (who are removed from these processes) of this, while still focusing on the beauty and craftsmanship of the products themselves?
If this brand teaches anyone anything, i'd really like for it to spread the message of how beneficial it can be to get involved within your community as you grow your business. The partnerships that you make and the impact you can have with just a minuscule monthly donation can make the world of difference. Our monthly donations once started only at $60 a month (relevant to the number of products we sold). Slow and steadily this number has grown to upwards of $400 a month which has has a huge impact on these local run grass roots projects. Ideally, this number should continue to grow and since the donations were always part of our core values and hence, accounted for in our business formula, the amount of money donated doesn't have an impact on finances. In my opinion, if you are going to benefit from a people or resource than this should translate into some sort of social or environmental responsibility. What is it that your brand stands for? What message are you giving your community?
With these values set in place at an early stage, all that was left for us to do is focus on the product themselves.
Does being a person of color influence your brand? If so how?
I think first and foremost my culture influences my brand. Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean culture have a big influence on the overall vibe and style of the brand.
What is your biggest inspiration?
Nature and music i think have the biggest impact on my brand. New products we develop are centered around the natural materials we are able to source. Music really helps carry the brand inside and out. My day to day playlists consist of Reggae, Kompa, Afro beats, Hip-Hop, and anything else i can groove to while working. Also, we are partnered with several Caribbean musicians who help spread our message of environmental and social consciousness.