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Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Scott Paul chats with the founders of the Brooklyn-based eyewear company.

We've written a bit over the years on American manufacturers who make eyewear in the United States, including a story in July on Fatheadz Eyewear, which specializes in frames for larger-than-average heads.

And this week on The Manufacturing Report podcast, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul chatted with the founders of Lowercase, a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in crafting handmade, high-quality eyewear. Lowercase operates out of the Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City, which was home to the largest military supply base during World War II but now has been repurposed for manufacturing.

It's a fitting place for Lowercase to operate — New York used to be home to a lot of eyewear manufacturing, but nearly all of those companies were bought up in the late 20th century and production was sent overseas.

So when former investment analyst Gerard Masci and architect Brian Vallario launched Lowercase with the goal of bringing things back to the Big Apple, they first had to go to Italy to learn the craft. Then, they had to figure it out on their own.

"Eyewear manufacturing is really like a trade business, a trade secret business," Masci tells The Manufacturing Report. "There's no school for it, even in Italy or China. There's no book, there's no video. It's just kind of passed down from generation to generation, and so considering how long American eyewear manufacturing had left the states, there was kind of no knowledge base left here, and there were no equipment suppliers left here, and there were no even just importers of equipment from overseas. And so we found ourselves in a place where we would have loved to have help, we tried searching for it, but it kind of just didn't exist. So it forced us to just pull it together, the two of us."  

Listen below to find out how Lowercase pulled it off — earning accolades from publications like The Wall Street Journal in the process — and where they hope to go from here.