Mililani Teacher’s Business Is Based On Giving To The Needy
When Keith “JR” Matsumura took off on an Indonesian surf safari in 2009, little could he have imagined the trip and a few pairs of $5 plastic sunglasses would change his life.
But they did. Matsumura, a special education teacher at Mililani High School, had bought the inexpensive eyewear from a street vendor. After arriving home, he got the idea to start an affordable sunglasses company that, over time, would develop into a surfing and action-sports accessories company.
With the help of friends in China, Matsumura began to produce low-priced plastic sunglasses that he sold over the Internet under the banner IZRI Supply Company. Izri is a Hebrew word for “creator” and “tribulations,” labels the devout Christian found perfect for his new company.
“I wanted to start a company that reflected my faith in God, as my creator, who is also the God that is with me in my tribulations, and that’s the foundation of the company.”
Recently, he moved on to producing handcrafted sunglasses made from natural bamboo. Also, this year he began donating sunglasses to Unite For Sight, a nonprofit organization that provides glasses and free medical care to impoverished areas.
“I always wanted IZRI to be something that was interested in giving freely to others,” explained Matsumura. “I looked up different organizations, and I came across Unite For Sight. I found out they were open to taking donations of sunglasses. For every pair of plastic sunglasses I was selling, I’d donate one pair of sunglasses to the organization. So every month I’d put a box together for United For Sight with about 30 sunglasses.”
Earlier this year two boxes of IZRI sunglasses were sent to Honduras. His most recent contribution was sent to Ghana in October.
Matsumura has moved beyond plastic glasses and is now just selling the wooden-framed glasses on izrisupply.com. He’s even changed his donation tactic. Now, for every pair of wooden-frame sunglasses he sells, he’s donating five pairs of plastic sunglasses to the charity. Just don’t go looking for much information about the donations on his website.
“I’m not advertising that on my website. I feel it’s OK if I talk about what I do, but I don’t want it to be a marketing ploy. I wanted it to be something from my heart and not something I announce from the rooftop.”