By Anna Griffin, Editor in Chief
Meeting at university and connecting through a shared entrepreneurial passion, Alexandre Desabrais and Samuel Leroux, decided to create a brand together. Inspired to make a difference without compromising function or fashionability, they founded Solios Watches, a company founded on sustainability and style.
Being meticulous in design, product longevity, and the utilization of eco-friendly components, Alex and Samuel made a commitment to our planet’s health and long-term wellness by certifying Solios Watches as a B-Corp brand. Going a step further, they added a philanthropic arm to their company, designing watches that benefit the Rainforest Trust and the Make a Wish Foundation.
Inspiring a return to wearing timepieces in a digital age where we live via our cell phones, Alex and Samuel are pioneering a new direction in fashion. One where design, function, environmental awareness and philanthropy effortlessly merge, and it seems they are just in time.
Tell us about your friendship and how you became business partners?
Alex and I met at university in Montreal where we became really good friends. Originally, we had no clue we both had entrepreneurial dreams until we separately applied to an entrepreneurship business case competition. We were both selected and that’s when everything started. We realized we worked very well together and had similar ambitions. We wanted to build something that would have a positive impact on the people and the planet. The idea of solar-powered watches came after multiple trips together and after an enormous amount of research on sustainable options and practices.
What was your inspiration as entrepreneurs to make a product that benefits the environment?
It might sound cheesy but what really triggered our passion for sustainability was the documentary Before the Flood by Leonardo Di Caprio. Before watching the documentary, we had already tried some business ideas and discussed others but that was the tipping point. It was at that moment that we promised ourselves we would do something that would have a positive impact on the planet. We started reading many books, such as Naomi Klein’s Capitalism and Climate Change.
What are the sustainable elements of every Solios watch?
We’re doing our best to improve all the materials in the watch. We deconstructed the product and with our relative newness in the industry, asked many questions to make sure we offer the most sustainable materials. Our watch case is made of 100% certified recycled stainless steel, our watch is solar-powered, the plastic inside the watch is made of 100% recycled plastic, the glass is coated with sapphire glass to make it more durable, the strap is made of vegan leather that has no PU or PVC and is filled with cork rather than rubber. All the straps are easily interchangeable because we’re promoting to buy only one Solios, and rather change your straps. Our packaging is handmade in Montreal with 100% recycled and recyclable materials. Finally, the company is certified B Corp and we are committed to continuing to improve.
How is design with purpose essential to your brand?
What we like to say is we like to design without any compromise. We don’t feel we would solve any issue if our audience had to sacrifice design, sustainability, solar technology, or accessibility. We wanted to solve the over-consumption in the watch industry, and reduce the number of batteries produced. To do so, you need a watch that would be as beautiful as a normal quartz watch, but much more sustainable, solar-powered, and still accessible. In everything we do, it’s mandatory for us to design with purpose.
How are Solios watches produced, and where?
We work with partners from all over the world! Our goal is to improve our processes continuously. Unlike a standard quartz watch that works with a single supplier, we have around ten that we have carefully selected and visited. Solar technology and the movement come from Japan, and the watch is assembled in Hong Kong. For the straps, we work with suppliers from Switzerland and the United States. All our cardboard is made in Quebec, and our packaging is produced by hand in Montreal. Finally, we receive all the components at our Montreal office. We then proceed with the final assembly of the watch, and ship each package from Montreal directly after carefully examining them.
Solios is the first watch company to be certified B-Corp. What does that mean and why was it important to you?
We defined the mission for Solios way before defining the product. We knew we wanted to create a company that would have a positive impact on the environment and the people surrounding us. To do so, we need to consider everything Solios touches and that’s what B Corp is all about. It legally forces you to consider the environment, the community, and the employees just as much as regular corporations do with profits. It was important for us to become B Corp early, to make sure it was truly embedded in Solios’ roots and nature. All new employees are tied to those values. We don’t have investors yet, but if any come in they will be legally bound to our mission.
You have a built-in, philanthropic platform within your brand. Why was that significant for you?
We don’t do philanthropy on a big scale because we’re still young, but we want to make sure that it is deeply rooted in our culture to give back. We were very lucky to have great parents, great educational opportunities, and we never missed anything. Not everyone had the same luck, and we now live in a new environment where we realize that resources are limited. Growing to give back is a model we love and want to be part of. That’s why we’re giving back to Make-a-Wish and to the Rainforest Trust.
For each Solios watch sold, one acre of rainforest is restored through your partnership with Rainforest Trust. Why are you supporting the rehabilitation of rainforests?
We decided to support the rainforests because we feel deeply connected to them. We like to say that Solios is grounded and realistic just like trees. On top of that, the rainforests work only in conditions where they receive a lot of sun, just like Solios, and of course, we’re trying our best to help climate change as rainforests are the equivalent of our lungs. We did a lot of research to see what the best ways to capture carbon are, and what we found out is that planting trees is not the best way. Protecting the acres of rainforest we already have and helping their restoration, is much better for both the environment and the species living within those lands. Among all the foundations helping the rainforest, we decided to choose the Rainforest Trust because of their transparency and the proportion of money they’re giving back to the cause.
What are the long-term goals for Solios in being a leader in sustainability in the fashion industry?
Our objective is to create the most sustainable watch in the world. Although we might be close to it, there’s still a very long way to keep improving our product and our practices. Being net-zero and reducing our impact through what we do is part of our long-term goal. We want to work with better materials, and potentially assemble and create our own watch in Montreal.
What’s next for you and Solios?
New innovative products with unique features and materials. New design and lower environmental impact, and all of this with no compromise whatsoever. Our goal is to invest a lot more into innovation and product design.
PC: Solios Watches