FLINT, Mich.—Genusee, which makes eyewear in Flint, Michigan from recycled plastic water bottles resulting from the Flint Water Crisis, announced yesterday that it will close its business on Sept. 30, 2022. In a statement shared to all platforms, Genusee’s founder and CEO Ali Rose Van Overbeke said that rising costs across supply chain, labor and customer acquisition, combined with the economic effects of the pandemic, war and a recession are “too strong for our small business to continue on.”

Early in Q2 2022, Genusee pursued investment conversations to raise a seed round of funding, which Van Overbeke says were met with minimal early interest or enthusiasm. The company planned to launch a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund for its new frame tooling and production, but paused it due to “turbulent timing.” 
In July 2022, Genusee stopped offering prescription lenses and readers, due to the closure of its partner optical lab, but continued to offer sunglasses and blue light lenses. Van Overbeke said that in its four years of business Genusee has sold over 12,000 frames.
Van Overbeke said, “Thank you for believing in Genusee, our mission, and our vision for the future of sustainable and circular economy eyewear. Thank you to our customers and community, current and past employees, collaborators, manufacturing partners and retail partners for all of your hard work. You have been the soul of this brand and the only reason I had the courage to persist throughout the challenges building a business during a pandemic presented us.
“I know the standards we have set and the seeds we planted in the hearts of anyone who has come into contact with Genusee will create a ripple effect of impact far beyond what we have seen in just the last four years. My love of eyewear, entrepreneurship, and my passion for sustainability and circular supply chains has only grown. Although I do not know what is next for me, my vision for a future generation that demands businesses to be good to the core is steadfast.”
Van Overbeke launched Genusee four years ago. All Genusee frames are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled water bottles, with about 15 bottles recycled per order. The majority of Genusee’s supply chain is within a 188 mile radius of Flint, and 1 percent of all of the company’s profits are donated to the Community Fund of Greater Flint. Customers can continue to shop the remaining Genusee stock until September 30, with special sales in place.