The company, Proof Eyeware, has carved a niche in the sunglasses-and-accessories market for products made of wood and plant-based plastics.
Now its owners, brothers Brooks, Tanner and Taylor Dame, are taking their idea to the ABC show, "Shark Tank," where entrepreneurs pitch their products in hopes of picking up cash for their business from a panel of investors that includes Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
The show airs at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, on KIVI-TV (Channel 6).
Brooks Dame grew up in Ontario, Ore., and later moved to Eagle, where he works for Woodgrain Millwork Inc., a wood-molding maker started by his grandfather and headquartered in Nampa with a plant in Fruitland. Brooks Dame is Woodgrain's human resources vice president.
After work, the brothers talked about entering the sunglasses market. Seeking a way in, they hit on the idea of using renewable resources to make their products. Proof's frames are made of bamboo, ebony, cherry, mahogany and plant-based plastics. The frames cost $90 to $140. Proof's newest frame, the Skate Edition, is made from five-ply maple skateboard decks.
Proof also has developed a clothing line and an $18.99 wooden wallet.
Sales for the company, based at 1117 E. Plaza Drive, Suite F, in Eagle, are now about $700,000 a year, Dame said. Proof sells products in the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and other countries. Proof says it contributes portions of each sale to causes such as eye clinics in India and reforestation in Haiti.
Friends suggested Dame try "Shark Tank." "I had never seen the show," he says. He watched a bit, thought it was cool and sent off an email. Show producers and Dame talked, and the producers agreed to bring the brothers on the show.
Taylor Dame told the Idaho Commerce Department: "We also desired to gain million-dollar or even billion-dollar resources and contacts, which the celebrity investors can provide."
The episode was taped in September. Brooks said the experience was like "speed dating for venture capital."
The brothers aren't allowed to say what happened before the show airs, but Dame does say they benefited just by going on "Shark Tank," because the experience forced Proof to polish its business plan and "redefine who we are as a company."
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts