In my search for a more eco friendly pair of sunglasses that didn’t break the bank, I came across a company named DIFF. I reached out to the company and I had the honor and pleasure of chatting with an inspiring entrepreneur from the DIFF eyewear company. His name is Chad Dime, one of the co-founders for DIFF. I was interested in finding out more about the company since I was intrigued by the charitable movements that they are involved with. It turns out that what this company is about is the true definition of integrity. DIFF not only has a quality product that they can be proud to stand behind, but they donate 1 pair of eyeglasses to a person in need in Africa for each and every pair of sunglasses sold.
I asked Chad what got him and his 3 partners started with DIFF and their passion for the “Eyes on Africa” charity. He told me that most of the motivation behind giving back to Africa goes back to his family history of decades of importing eyewear. Throughout this time he watched a company called Luxottica work to monopolize pretty much the entire eyewear industry. This was done by buying up approximately 80 percent of the big names like Oakley, Ray Ban, Gucci, etc. Then after purchasing the eyewear companies, they would then work at buying out retailers like Sun Glass Hut (you see these stores in many malls throughout America). These actions lead to a monopolized high priced controlled marketplace for quality sunglasses. This motivated the co-founders of DIFF to make an effort to disrupt this monopoly and create a fair market value on eyewear.
A second but equally important motivation for DIFF was to give back through charity. Throughout the search for the perfect way to give back, the co-founders of DIFF met a woman named Sherry Grigsby, a retired school teacher out of California. Throughout her many travels to Africa, she started a program called “Eyes on Africa”. It is a a 501(c)(3), non-religious, non-governmental, non-political, non-profit organization. Their mission is “to provide eyeglasses at no cost to Africans through distribution in communities with no access to vision care”. The glasses cannot be sold or traded and must be made available to the community at-large. “Eyes on Africa” has been distributing reading glasses in African countries since 2005. DIFF and Sherry joined forces by partnering together to help the people of 17 regions of Africa.
In late November 2014 DIFF was created. Prior to DIFF’s very first sale of sunglasses, they already had donated 500 pairs of eyeglasses to Africa through “Eyes on Africa”. Within DIFF’s first year of business nearly 7,000 pairs of reading glasses throughout 17 regions in Africa were donated by DIFF.
DIFF has been increasingly successful and most of that success is by word of mouth and marketing through social media.
Chad added in our conversation that people often ask “why not help those in need here in the U.S?” His reply is that the dollar can go a lot further in other counties and a small amount goes a long way in areas like Africa. He mentioned as an example that $25 US dollars could pay for an entire day of health screenings and eye exams for many people in Africa.
In addition to “Eyes on Africa”, DIFF just launched a new program with the help of Kelsey Sabo, a Peace Corp volunteer, who’s focusing on teaching literacy and empowerment to children in Uganda. With DIFF’s funding and Kelsey’s onsite help, they provide health screenings and eye exams to 1,800 pupils. Through some of these preliminary screenings Kelsey and DIFF found that there was a definite need for eyecare. With the need of future eye exams they started an initiative for proper eyecare for Uganda. This is all a relatively new charity for DIFF as it just launched March 9th and 10 and then again on March 16th and 17th, 2016.
Throughout this conversation with Chad I just was floored at DIFF’s charitable efforts. Diff is a company that was started and continues with integrity and caused-based passion, in addition to providing quality products which I will review next.
My first day of sporting my very own pair of DIFF sunglasses displayed above! The sunglasses arrived well packaged and included a soft case and cleaning case with the DIFF logo on it. The soft case was of excellent build quality and definitely something I could see myself using to store them. The sunglasses felt very solid in construction, but not overly heavy or bulky. They seem to have solid quality hinges. The sunglasses were super comfortable to wear. They were lightweight and fit well on my face. I received the Dime style with polarized lenses. For my face shape and personal style taste, they were a bit too round. The Dime style is an eclectic and unique style. Of course this is simply a fashion preference. Overall this is a great pair of sunglasses. I had the opportunity to try out another style of DIFF eyewear (see below) and this style is the Riley frames with gold mirror lenses. I really enjoy the fun mirror lense and really like the style of the frame. Just like the Dime style, the Riley’s arrived with the same case as the Dime style. The Riley is also handmade (as is all of DIFF’s eyewear) and the quality is high end. They fit perfectly and feel solid. The quality and price point alone make any DIFF sunglasses a great choice. Combine those reasons with the charitable work of DIFF and this is a no-brainer recommendation for quality sunglasses. Keep up the great work DIFF!
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