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Harvard-Bound Rye Senior Starts Sunglass Company

Rye High School senior, Sam Rukeyser, co-founded the sunglass company, Rívale.
Rye High School senior, Sam Rukeyser, co-founded the sunglass company, Rívale. Photo Credit: Madeline Eck

RYE, N.Y.- At this time of year, most high school seniors are making graduation plans and preparing to head off to college. For Rye High School Senior, Samuel Rukeyser, however, there is a little more on his plate: His new sunglass company, Rívale.

The idea for the company came about last November when Rukeyser and his business partner, Oli Stephenson, decided existing companies weren't paying enough attention to the quality of their products. Figuring they could do better, the devout environmentalists sought to create beautiful, durable, sustainable shades made with reclaimed and renewable resources.

"We’re constantly striving to improve our triple-bottom-line -- social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and profit -- much like companies such as Patagonia do," said Rukeyser.

So far so good. Rívale's products, inspired by the elegant aesthetic of the Mediterranean, have gotten interest from vendors in Monaco, St. Tropez, and Baja CA. At the moment, items are sold exclusively online .

Among the best-sellers: The Monaco made of a six-layered, pressed wood with polarized lenses ($95) and The Bamboo Tropez which floats, making it perfect for days on the water. All come with Rívale's unique bamboo carrying case.

Ideally, Rukeyser would like to see every man, woman, and child wearing his sunglasses, but he's taking his business one step at a time. "In all honesty, I think the experience of building this business, working closely with our supply-chain, and crafting a beautiful product has been immensely rewarding. We are investing a lot of ourselves into making Rívale a success, but we are also enjoying the ride," he said.

Rukeyser, who is headed to Harvard in the Fall, is no stranger to entrepreneurship; he created his own app, Grade Poll, which became available in the app store in September. The app tracks a person's individual performance in school and ranks him or her anonymously among peers.

To learn more about Rívale, visit www.rivalestore.com/ .

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