Stories and Articles
SOLO Eyewear – Jenny Amaraneni
What do you do when you realize that the computer screen seems kind of blurry or that you aren’t able to text as quickly as you used to? You call the eye doctor and he’ll get you set up, right?
Turns out, that if you CAN do that, you are among the privileged few.
“While reading Paul Polak’s book, Out of Poverty, I did a little research and learned that a billion people do not have access to eye care and that 80 percent of the world’s blindness is preventable,” said Jenny Amaraneni (’11, MBA). “I have very poor vision, but it never dawned on me that I was blessed to have access to eye care. That was my call to action.”
"I have very poor vision, but it never dawned on me that I was blessed to have access to eye care. That was my call to action." -Jenny Amaraneni
Shortly before earning her MBA from San Diego State in 2011, Amaraneni founded SOLO Eyewear with the intent of helping people in need to either restore their vision through surgery or providing them with prescription glasses through the proceeds of the sale of unique, quality sunglasses.
The idea for the company originated out of her International Entrepreneurship class (management 748) taught by Dr. Martina Musteen. “It was in her class that I developed the idea for SOLO Eyewear,” said Amaraneni, a native of Slidell, Louisiana. “She encouraged us to develop business ideas that impacted the world positively.”
The company’s concept is not the only thing that’s unique – its product is unusual as well. The temples on each pair of sunglasses are made with recycled bamboo and some are decorated with hand-painted artwork by local artists. The sunglasses are sold through the company’s website and through various retailers throughout the U.S. Amaraneni and her partner, Dana Holliday (also an SDSU graduate) are in the process of partnering with international distributors to grow SOLO Eyewear into a global brand.
[Dr. Martina Musteen] encouraged us to develop business ideas that impacted the world positively.
The concept created by Amaraneni for SOLO Eyewear is unique: for each pair of sunglasses sold from the company’s website, they will donate two pairs of reading glasses and partial funding for cataract surgery to someone in need either here in the U.S. or overseas. “We partner with three non-profit organizations in the United States and India to fulfill our giving,” explained Amaraneni. At the moment, the company has either donated glasses or surgical funds to over 10,000 people in 32 countries.
According to Bloomberg, eight-out-of-ten new businesses fail within the first 18 months, however, SOLO Eyewear is going strong. Amaraneni has won numerous awards from local media for her efforts and, in 2011, SOLO Eyewear won a Social Consciousness award from an entrepreneurial organization. Currently, they are in the process of recruiting new artists to create designs for their hand-painted product line.
Amaraneni credits much of her entrepreneurial success to the support she got while at SDSU and she encourages today’s SDSU student entrepreneurs to do the same. “As an SDSU student, you have an abundance of resources right at your fingertips – be sure to milk it,” she said. “Connect with professors, alumni, community leaders and surround yourself with smart, ambitious people. The sky’s the limit!”