Warby Parker is one of a number of young, nimble companies that has embraced a different kind of bottom line. Instead of focusing on pure profit (and traditional marketing), they evolved a new way of doing business that allows them to both help people in need and get plenty of free advertising via word-of-mouth.
Beginning with a limited number of very trend-oriented (but never too out-there) frames for glasses, the company has been built around the idea that for every pair of glasses sold, one is given to a person in need. To date, over 500,000 pairs have been distrubuted. "The concept is that Warby Parker exists to do good in the world," says Neil Blumenthal, the co-CEO and cofounder of the company in a video interview with the Morning Joe program (below).
According to their website: "Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses. This means that 15% of the global population cannot effectively learn or work - a problem that Warby Parker is determined to address."
The company has grown in the years since it was founded. Now with 300-plus employees, and based in New York City (the founding trio began in Philly), the number of styles the brand offers has expanded—but for the most part their prices have not. As Blumenthal explains, their frame prices are significantly lower than designer glasses usually are because "We basically started the company because we had that frustrating experience of going to the [optical store]...and left feeling like we got ripped off." All of Warby's glasses are $95 for the frames (costs vary for lenses) and are Made NYC.
Beyond just distributing glasses to those who need them, they have gone the next step, and the company now, "[uses] glasses to create jobs," says Blumenthal. They train low-income women to give eye exams (through a training program via their nonprofit arm) and sell glasses in their local communities."
This new way of doing business is catching on, following the success of Warby Parker and their predecessors in the 'buy one, give one' concept, TOMS shoes.
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