PSFK speaks to the founder of a new humanitarian eye wear company offers low prices and a charitable donation program.
Our parents were hippies and believed in free love. Their parents wore tweed, worked 9-5 and sipped martinis like Don Draper. So who are we?
Wharton grad turned philanthropic entrepreneur Neil Blumenthal believes we are the best of both worlds. It is this philosophy that encapsulates his newest endeavor, the brilliantly designed humanitarian eye wear company “Warby Parker.”
Warby Parker’s website launched on February 15, 2010 and the company, started by four Wharton buddies including Neil Blumenthal, Andy Hunt, Jeffrey Raider and David Gilboa, has been profitable since day one. In the first few days after the launch, the four boys holed up in Neil’s apartment donning camouflage warpaint and hurling ringing telephones at each other. Named as one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s 100 Brilliant Ideas (http://bit.ly/9uFd11), the company hit their first year sales target just four weeks after launching.
Warby Parker, a name taken from two of Jack Kerouac’s earliest characters, makes extremely cool, high-quality eye wear that look similar to Sol Moscots, are made on the same production lines as boutique frames but retail for less than half the cost. They offer 27 limited styles with names like Huxley, Finn and Roosevelt and one tortoise shell monocle, all made out of the finest modern technology: custom acetate frames and anti-reflective, polycarbonate prescription lenses.
Each pair sells for $95, which at a quarter of most high end retail prices, is not just spectacular, it’s revolutionary. And just like Tom’s, for every pair you buy, Warby Parker donates a pair to someone in need, working with non-profits like RestoringVision.org.
How you may ask? Warby Parker cuts out the middle man. The four men who started Warby Parker don’t partner with licensing companies, they create their own designs. In fact, Andy Hunt has studied eye wear in over 40 countries. And the beauty of their model is that Warby Parker bypasses the optical shops by selling directly to consumers online.
See their direct cost comparison graphic here.
Worried that the glasses you buy online might not look good on you? Don’t. First, you can virtually try them on online after uploading a photo of yourself. And if you still can’t decide Warby Parker will let you try them on at home by sending you five different choices of glasses with return shipping included.
“The look draws on elements of traditionalism and professionalism, while maintaining individuality. Embrace inner quirkiness,” Neil advises, “Share the love. That’s what we’re all about.”