Most sunglasses companies are not inspired by 1700s Renaissance writers, but new online shop Volterre is. Sarah Dauterman was exiting Paris’ Voltaire metro stop, on a journey to replace her favorite pair of vintage sunglasses, and got to thinking about its namesake’s idea that while Paris was beautiful, it lacked proper infrastructure. The ideas merged and a mission to make the most perfect pair of shades began.
“I wanted to make something that was both practical and beautiful at the same time,” Dauterman says. “I actually think my interest in sunglass design stems from my love for portraiture. Just like portraiture, I think eyewear design allows me to channel both my analytical and creative side.”
Before the Dallas native embarked on an eight-month journey around the world to find inspiration — and the best manufacturer in China — for her Los Angeles-based company, she studied business, mathematical finance and painting at the University of Southern California.
“I’m an artist and paint a lot in my free time,” she says. “I fell in love with painting at the Episcopal School of Dallas. Since I was about 11, I dreamed of being a fashion designer but thought it was a far-fetched dream.”
After nearly a year and a half of planning, Volterre launched last month. The travel-inspired frames, $168 each, are currently only available online, but Dauterman is preparing to partner with select stores in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas. She has also recently partnered with her sister Mary, who has a knack for catching the internet’s attention, to produce a short promotional video about two tourists who spend most of their trip looking for a lost pair of sunglasses.
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“We thought a lot of people could relate to that feeling of dismay when you realize you’ve lost another pair of sunglasses,” Dauterman says. “They’re normally so hard to keep track of. However, I designed Volterre to be harder to lose and travel-friendly, so it’s kind of playing with the idea that these tourists are so used to losing their glasses that they forget to consider that the Volterre glasses might actually be with them in their pockets all along.”
The glasses are designed to be extra flexible, durable, light and come with a key-ring case that attaches to a belt loop. Dauterman describes her target customer as the “modern jet-setter,” but that is not all the company stands for. Three percent of the purchase price for every pair of sunglasses is donated to FLYTE, the Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education.
FLYTE provides funding, teacher support and itinerary planning for educational trips designed to promote cross-cultural understanding and reassert students’ sense of global awareness and participation. As Volterre grows, its goal is to increase donations to 5 percent by 2018 and to 7 percent by 2019.
To shop Volterre and learn more, visit volterre.co.