Ewa Beach-based Sunglasses Firm Shares Products With Needy

When Keith “JR” Matsumura took off on an Indonesian surf safari in 2009, little could he have imagined that the trip and a few pairs of $5 plastic sunglasses would change his life, but they did.

Matsumura, an Ewa Beach resident who teaches special education at Mililani High School, had purchased the inexpensive eyewear from a street vendor. After returning home, he got the idea to start an inexpensive sunglasses company that, over time, would develop into a surfing and action sports accessories company.

With the help of friends in China, he 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,” a label 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,” he explained.

Recently, he has moved on to producing handcrafted sunglasses made from natural bamboo. Also, this year he began donating sunglasses to Unite For Sight, a nonprofit 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,” said Matsumura. “I looked up different organizations. I came across Unite For Sight and 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 to them. So every month I’d put a box together for United For Sight with about 30 sunglasses.”

Last year, the organization sent two boxes of IZRI sunglasses to Honduras. His most recent contribution was sent to Ghana in October.

Matsumura has moved beyond plastic glasses and is now selling the wooden-frame 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 ones to the charity. Just don’t go looking for much information about the donations on his web-site.

“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.”