Meet the Glasses Company Doing More for Flint Than Govenor Snyder

Started by Detroit native Ali Rose VanOverbeke and her business partner Jack Burns, Genusee is a start-up located in Flint, Michigan that aims to help alleviate the economic and environmental crisis that was aggravated by the Flint water crisis.

Named for Genesee County where Flint is located, Genusee was initially thought of in 2016 when VanOverbeke was in her hometown volunteering with the American Red Cross to deliver water bottles to Flint residents. While there, she saw a localized environmental crisis due to the surplus of plastic being brought into the city by NGO’s and aid organizations to meet the community’s daily needs and decided she needed to do something and thus left her original business, a fashion line she created, to start Genusee with Burns.

So how does Genusee help with this? The glasses frames are made entirely of up-cycled, single-use plastic bottles, 20 million of which were being used per day at the height of the water crisis. The production of these glasses not only reuses water bottles in a functional (and fashionable) way, it will help relieve the economic crisis in Flint by creating living-wage, accessible jobs for residents.  The company will also encourage a circular economy within Flint. Instead of buying the glasses, using them, then throwing them out, Genusee will buy back the glasses for a replacement pair and reuse or donate the used pair.

As of May 6, 2018, Genusee has reached roughly 62% of their Kickstarter goal with $31,401 donated of $50,000. You can become a backer here. The Kickstarter must be fully funded by May 18, 2018. If this happens, Genusee will offer one frame, the Roeper, in Crystal Fog and Classic Black as prescription glasses, readers, or non-prescription sunglasses. The frame was designed to fit the median range of face shapes and sizes. As the fund reaches higher goals, more cases, different colors, and additional styles of frame are unlocked.

Photo: Michigan Municipal League

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