At Ballo we See Things Differently and do things differently. Our mission is to make unique sunglasses and goods that are handmade from sustainable materials and put the planet before profit.
Alistair Barnes founded Ballo in 2013. The name "Ballo" comes from a combination of his family name, Barnes, and his mother's maiden name, Gallo. Ballo also means “I dance” in Italian. A happy coincidence, as he loves to dance.
After some experience with a US based wooden sunglass brand, that was marketed as being made in the USA, but was actually made in China, Alistair decided to start a brand that was authentic, sustainable and handmade in Cape Town, South Africa.
Since launching with Eyewood, sunglasses made from recycled paper and offcut wood veneer from local furniture makers, in 2013 we have only used materials that are recycled, upcycled or sustainably sourced. These have grown to include: hemp, cork, old advertising billboard and other fabric offcuts. Ballo also launched a small range of ethical clothing in 2016 using hemp, organic cotton and linen. We also realised that being sustainable means staying open and keeping our employees employed. This led to us changing our international shipping policy from not shipping internationally from our website to shipping internationally and planting a tree for every pair we ship (to offset carbon footprint of shipping). We plant trees with GreenPop. We have also introduced a Made To Order production protocol for all online orders in a move towards Zero Waste. During the recent pandemic we have made a few production pivots and have introduced fabric facemasks, local alien timber cutting boards and beeswax candles.
In South Africa we have an extremely high level of unemployment. This leads to poverty, homelessness and crime. Making our products using a unique combination of 23 hand crafted processes means that to make more sunglasses, we have to employ more people. By making our products by hand with love we are doing our bit to create employment.
A focus of the Ballo brand has always been to communicate these principles to our customers through the feeling of the product in your hands, the energy that surrounds the brand and the story that come with every product.
We want our customers to look good, feel good, do good and spread the good word.