Rose Ann and J.V. Salumbides created Siempre Verde, an eco-friendly sunglass company that promises to plant trees for every product sold. (Brandon Wise

DOWNTOWN — In perfect time for summer, Rose Ann Salumbides, a Santa Monica High School teacher, and her husband J.V., an advertising executive, launched Siempre Verde, a new line of sunglasses and prescription eyewear that links environmental awareness and passion for design. Directly translating into “forever green” in Spanish, Siempre Verde aims to rally support for worldwide environmental efforts.

“It came to us a natural idea to combine our love of nature with our products by offering sustainability in our merchandise and building eco-awareness into our marketing,” Rose Ann said. Prior to the company’s official founding in January, the couple researched other eyewear companies for over a year. Much to their surprise, they found that there were only two major eyewear companies, Luxottica and Safilo, that produce all types of eyewear, yet both use materials that are not natural.

“As we investigated the market we found that there was no way a pair of plastic frames should cost $500,” Rose Ann said. “We were challenged to find a different product because eyewear is the one industry where there has been little to no innovation.” With the goal of providing all types of eyewear and using only eco-friendlly products, the couple also researched what materials they could use. As opposed to plastic or petroleum frames, Siempre Verde uses only bamboo, ebony, birch, and zebra wood alternatives and offer single vision, transition lenses, tinted, and even prescription lenses, all complete with anti-reflective coating.

With style shifting towards eco-friendliness, Siempre Verde is a part of a progressive, widespread effort to transform not only the eyewear industry, but all other types of apparel. “I’ve seen eco-friendly sunglasses in magazines and on celebrities more than ever this summer,” said StyleMinx’s online blogger Erica Paonessa. “I think as we become more aware of our environment and our impact on it we want to feel good about the things we are purchasing. More and more fashion and accessories are moving in this direction so we no longer need to compromise style to do something good.”

Siempre Verde is family-oriented and locally operated in Marina Del Rey. Throughout the entire process of founding a new business, family value has still remained a priority for the couple.
“Everyone involved with the conception and launch of this brand are family members and close family friends who have volunteered their time and efforts,” J.V. said.

Staying true to its motto “Style Sustained,” Siempre Verde releases products that are intended to embody the unique spirit of southern California’s beach scene. Those frames entitled Ocean, Melrose and Venice are designed to represent their respective areas.

Having both grown up in the Los Angeles, the Salumbides family has become familiar with the various environmental issues within the community. Rose Ann, an advanced-placement government teacher, even includes a unit about the environment in her curriculum when teaching public policy. After including environmentally-friendly behaviors in their daily routine, such as actively recycling and using primarily “green” materials, the family saw Siempre Verde as a perfect way to further address these issues, with a primary focus on deforestation. “We hope to be involved with all environmental concerns, especially coastal, clean water issues,” J.V. said. “Reforestation is only our start. We plan to expand efforts in the near future.”

The company decided that although all environmental issues are worth addressing, reforestation was the most relevant and attainable goal. “We wanted to find a company that works with reforestation,” said Rose Ann. “Obviously we only use wooden frames, so we wanted to do something to replenish the materials that we were using from nature.”

Rose Ann discovered American Forest, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the country that advocates for the protection and expansion of America’s forests. After getting in contact with one of the workers, it was suggested that she reach out to 1% to the Planet, another local nonprofit organization. In its partnership with 1% for The Planet, Siempre Verde must donate 1 percent of its annual total sales to another organization from a list of approved nonprofits, including American Forest. In addition, Siempre Verde will plant a tree where it is needed most for every purchase of a Siempre Verde product.

Despite its short time on the market, Siempre Verde has been gaining publicity. From being featured on KTLA’s “Fun and Fabulous Finds for the Summer” to preparing for an appearance on the television show “I Gotta Have That,” the company looks forward to a promising future.

“We can’t wait to see someone walking down the street wearing our frames,” Rose Ann said.

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