Eye for Design

Eye for Design

Maho offers the perfect shades for sunny days

Words by Paige Townley

The old saying is often true: necessity is frequently the mother of invention, and for the sunglass brand Maho, it’s quite true. Avid travelers and beach enthusiasts, Maho founders Kris and Alex Anderson were in the U.S. Virgin Islands searching for a soon-to-be new home. While enjoying all the Caribbean had to offer, they experienced what many often do: they kept losing their sunglasses. “When we couldn’t find them, we began thinking about how ridiculous it is to have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to replace them,” explains Alex. “We put our heads together and knew we could produce something better and at a better price point.”

Having decided to create their own sunglasses line, the Andersons continued to travel. They backpacked through Asia for months, visiting a variety of sunglasses manufacturers to learn all about the business. “It was a great experience,” Alex adds. “We met so many people and came back ready to launch the business.”

Soon after, the couple made their move to the Caribbean and launched Maho, a premium sunglass brand heavily influenced by all of the time they spend outdoors, whether it’s beachside or backpacking. The sunglasses are specifically designed to reflect and enhance natural beauty while also being completely comfortable for all-day wear while under the sun. All of the frames are made of industry-leading Mazzuchelli acetate, Comotec hinges, stainless steal and 24K gold hardware. The glasses also feature trivex lenses, a high-quality material that’s incredibly strong and greatly enhances the clarity of objects. The end result is an ultra-light weight, polarized, and anti-reflective sunglasses designed and tested for a life lived outdoors. “Our quality is right up there with some of the other top brands, but we do it at a much more reasonable price point,” Alex says. “We keep all of ours under $200 and it’s a lifetime warranty if they break.”

Launching the company while living on a small island in the Caribbean, Kris and Alex planned to sell exclusively online, but stores all throughout the Caribbean began calling. “We had no idea that we’d gain traction so fast,” Alex says. “Back then I would also set up on the pier where cruise ships would come in. We’d sell right off the dock as people came in to visit the island. It was a small way to help get the word out.”

It wasn’t too long after—while being pregnant with their first child—that the Zika virus outbreak forced them back to the United States. They came back to Birmingham and began creating relationships with a variety of stores. Never ones to stay too far away from the beach for very long, the Andersons soon made the move to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Then COVID-19 hit. “We had actually just made the move to Orange Beach, and it became clear we were going to have to shift our model from wholesale to direct to consumer as the pandemic was hitting stores so hard,” Alex says.

Always ones to look on the bright side, they turned to a recent purchase, a new Airstream, and set it up to sell sunglasses. “We were able to set up at a local beach bar for the summer, and it was a great way to continue sharing our story with customers,” Alex says. “The Airstream really saved us while stores just couldn’t buy.”

Selling directly to consumers worked so well with the Airstream that the company opened its first brick and mortar store in Orange Beach in December 2020. “It has been great having a storefront and getting the opportunity to have that one-on-one time with customers,” Alex says. “We love to share our story about how we’ve learned as we go. People can really relate.”

The couple’s plans for the company, however, don’t end there. They’re working on their own swimsuit and bag lines, and they’re looking to open another brick and mortar somewhere on 30A. “We definitely have a lot we want to do, and we’re excited about it,” Alex says. “We’re proud of everything Maho has accomplished so far and how far we have left to go.”