Panda – from obscurity to prominence in 6 mos.

Photo credit: Adrian Cabrero, courtesy of ENK International

By Staff | News
Posted Aug 20, 2012


How Eco-Friendly Fashion Startup Landed on Top Retailers’ Shelves in 6 Months

After launching a winning campaign on Kickstarter, Vincent Ko (left), Michael Mills (not pictured) and Luke Lagera (right) founded Panda in 2011.

It may sound like a ploy to get shoppers in the door, but the power of “green” and eco-conscious consumers can’t be denied. After all why else would giant companies like Groupe Danone purchase the Londonderry, N.H.-based organic-yogurt maker Stonyfield Farms in 2003 and the Coca-Cola Co. snap-up Honest Tea in 2011?

So Georgetown University buddies Vincent Ko, Luke Lagera and Michael Mills thought: Why not? And in the fall of 2011, the now 24-year-olds started up Panda, a Washington, D.C.-based sunglasses maker that uses sustainably-harvested bamboo for its frames. To complete the virtuous cycle, they’re devoting a portion of their profits towards funding eye exams and cataract surgery to aid people in the developing world.

Since launching, the fledgling fashion company founders have managed to land their frames in popular retail outlets including Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom. But what separates Panda from the herd of “eco-friendly” products on the market? And what can like-minded startups learn from a company that grew from fashion obscurity to prominence in just six months?

YoungEntrepreneur recently sat down with Vincent Ko, one of the visionaries (no pun intended) who co-founded Panda. Read an edited version of that chat: via How Eco-Friendly Fashion Startup Landed on Top Retailers’ Shelves in 6 Months |

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