Today’s interviewees are nothing short of awesomeness! My daughter actually stumbled upon these two entrepreneurs while surfing the net and I knew as soon as I read about them that I had to feature their story on the blog.
Go-getters Bridget Hilton and Joe Huff have managed to combine social responsibility and eco-consciousness with a product that is just plain cool. LTSN Headphones makes high quality headphones out of reclaimed wood sourced from furniture and flooring companies around the world and puts proceeds from their sales towards helping restore hearing in others through their partnership with the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Since launching in 2012 they have already contributed to hearing restoration programs in more than 120 countries around the world!
What I like about them is they haven’t tried to be all things to all people. They’ve focused on one product and one cause with the aim of doing both really well. And you have to admire those whose goal it is to change the world!
Please introduce yourselves: who are Bridget Hilton and Joe Huff, where are you from, what is your background and how have you ended up where you are today?
Says Bridget: Joe and I are the co-founders of LSTN Headphones, a social enterprise based out of Hollywood, California that started in 2012. Our company makes high quality headphones handcrafted from reclaimed wood. For every pair of headphones sold, we help restore hearing to a person in need through the Starkey Hearing Foundation. We’re both originally from the mid-west but have spent extensive amounts of time here in Southern California.
I have a deep-rooted love of music and my background is in marketing for major record labels, having worked for the well-known Universal Music Group. I am also a part-time lecturer at the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Joe has always been an entrepreneur. He is also founder of This Shirt Helps (www.thisshirthelps.com) – which allows people to support the causes that matter to them by purchasing quality T-shirts at reasonable prices – and previously the co-founder and CEO at Ramp Logistics (www.ramplogistics.com), an apparel logistics company. We linked up when we realised we both wanted to create a product that could change the world through the power of music.
We feel that in order to create change with social enterprise, the product has to be cool. And what’s cooler than music? We make a product that sounds good, looks good and does good; and feel that even though the headphone market is extremely crowded, it’s unique in the space. We feel in the noisy world we live in, everyone needs a good pair of headphones.
You say your mission is all about creating global change in the area of hearing loss and impairment. What prompted you to focus on this aspect of world need and how easy/difficult do you think it will be to make change?
As music lovers, we couldn’t imagine a life without sound. To give people the gift of hearing has been the most amazing experience of my life. The instantaneous reactions are incredible! We’ve already helped more than 10,000 people in Peru, LA and NYC, and are helping 4,000 plus more in Uganda and Kenya this spring.
Why use reclaimed wood? Tell me about the wood you use.
The wood we use is reclaimed from furniture and flooring manufacturers. It’s the pieces of scrap wood that are too small for a table, per say, but big enough for headphones. We use four types of exotic woods – zebra, ebony, cherry and beech. I love the wood because it makes each pair unique.
I/we draw inspiration from …
Classic brands like Levi’s and Ray Ban, and the style of classic rock bands such as the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
I/ we really admire …
My/our favourite music/podcast to listen to on our headphones is …
Personally, I love Americana songwriters such as Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell, Wilco. The team’s taste is varied – pretty much anything you love would sound good on our headphones 😉
Have you ever had a ‘who’d have thought’ moment?
When we started the company, we thought: Why are guitars, pianos, violins etc made from wood but not headphones? It seemed to make sense acoustically.
Thanks Bridget and good luck with your next ventures in Uganda and Kenya!