2015-07-10 / Columns

Building the Traps eyewear brand

Go-Get ‘Em: Bi-weekly insight from DiriGo-Getters, the voice of local young professionals
By Luke Nielson

You know it when a brand clicks.

It takes serious commitment and attention to detail, and it only happens when a unique product tells a simple story worth telling. As a marketer, you’re impressed, and as a consumer, you’re ready to take out your wallet. Traps Eyewear is one of those impressive brands that pulls it all together.

The Portland-based startup’s designer eyewear – made with wood from salvaged lobster traps – is a high-market and eco-friendly concept, yet deeply rooted in our state’s cultural identity. No one recogniz- es the significance of this harmony more than Traps founder John Turner.

“To me (the lobster trap) was synonymous with the state of Maine and the characteristics that Mainers embody, and as an entrepreneur I tend to think in problems and solutions,” Turner said.

Last year during a walk on South Portland’s Willard Beach, Turner was struck by inspiration when he came across the remnants of an oak lobster trap.

“This material wasn’t being utilized. Furthermore, the current wood eyewear on the market was not being made from salvaged wood that told a unique story. That was the opportunity.”

While the idea came about organically, finding a manufacturer to create a polished product was Turner’s greatest barrier. “We pushed through by keeping it moving. We were constantly networking, asking trade organizations for direction and posting job listings,” Turner said.

After several months, he finally found a woodworker who shared his passion for creating wearable art.

Traps Eyewear has lofty goals. Turner and co-founder Daniel Dougherty have their eyes set on opening a flagship retail location within five years. Turner believes the product line will not only be seen as a progressive east coast brand, but it will stand the test of time by offering consumers premium handmade products that tell their own unique stories.

It is no surprise that Turner has morphed an idle thought into a small business with strong upward momentum. His “go-getter” attitude is more or less a way of life. When asked what advice he would share with other “DiriGo-Getters” interested in starting a business here, he emphasized persistence – the same persistence that contributed to Traps Eyewear growing into its current form. These goals mirror Turner’s perspective of what defines a “DiriGo-Getter.”

“A DiriGo-Getter is someone who follows through. Every single one of us has said to a friend ‘Imagine if this existed?’ 99.9 percent of the time these ideas are shrugged off, mainly because they put the idea generator in an uncomfortable place,” Turner said.

“A true go-getter is someone who is OK with this feeling. They are willing to take that next step; to create a minimum viable product, to establish an LLC, to pitch their ideas to investors. They see failure as success.”

After setting his goals, sharing his vision with others, and remaining optimistic, Turner is in this for the long haul. Even if this was not the business he originally saw for himself, he has no choice now – he’s trapped.

Luke Nielson is the founder of DiriGo-Getters, a group working to better connect and empower young professionals in Maine. During the day he manages marketing at a fast-growing software company in Portland. He can be reached at lukenielson@gmail.com and more content like this is available at www.DiriGo-Getters.com.

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