Everyone Has the Right to See

Warby Parker Eyewear company Warby Parker has a new concept in vision. With their “Buy a Pair, Give a Pair” program, similar to Tom’s shoes, the Certified B Corporation seeks to build a company which does good in the world. Warby Parker’s mission is not just to make a profit, but to profit humanity.

History
The name Warby Parker was inspired by the writings of American novelist and poet Jean-Louis “Jack” Kerouac (1922-1969). Two of Kerouac’s early characters uncovered in his personal journals — Zagg Parker and Warby Pepper — provided just the right aesthetic the company was seeking. Without living long to enough to know it, Kerouac had inspired these entrepreneurs to take a road less traveled and to see the world through a different lens.

“Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point” (warbyparker.com/our-story). The organization began as a simple collaboration between four close friends and has now grown into a full-fledged world changer. This summer marked a huge milestone for the group with the successful distribution of 500,000 glasses for those in need.
The idea was two-fold—simple, yet profound: provide an alternative to the overpriced and bland eyewear available to the community and provide much needed eyewear to those in need who cannot provide glasses for themselves.

The Warby Parker difference
So just how does Warby Parker do it? The difference is streamlining. The company cuts out the middleman by creating their own designs and then selling directly to the customer. Warby Parker is independent. They don’t partner with licensing companies who can control the market and keep prices high. “We take great pride in designing our own eyewear and refuse to charge outrageous prices for our frames” (warbyparker.com/how-we-do-it).
Also, the web-based sales approach allows the customer to bypass optical shops and the high prices they charge. On average, you can purchase superiorly designed glasses with the highest quality materials for only $95, which includes the frames, polycarbonate prescription lenses and anti-reflective coating. Compare this to your typical high-end boutique or optical shop with an average total cost of $610 per pair of glasses.

Eyewear with a purpose
Ever wonder, “What can be done to make the world a better place?” There is so much need, where does one start? It may surprise some, but glasses are one of the most effective poverty alleviation tools in the world. Glasses alone can increase one’s income by 20 percent, enable better learning for students and offer dignity to the poor. Yet sadly, “Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses. This means that 15 percent of the global population cannot effectively learn or work – a problem that Warby Parker is determined to address…we believe that everyone has the right to see.” (warbyparker.com/our-story).

Warby Parker’s humanitarian efforts work with partners that use glasses to create jobs and foster economic development. In short, for every pair of glasses purchased, Warby Parker provides a pair to someone in need. The steps include:

Buy – Customers purchase a new pair of Warby Parker glasses.

Give – Warby Parker provides funding and/or glasses to non-profit partners like VisionSpring.

Train – Warby Parker’s non-profit partners provide glasses and training to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries to start their own businesses selling glasses.

Sell – Local entrepreneurs sell affordable glasses, earning a livelihood serving individuals in their communities who otherwise would not have access to glasses.

Buy – Individuals, who previously couldn’t afford glasses, are able to purchase and wear the glasses they need to learn and work.

Styles for anyone
Warby Parker has designs for everyone. Glasses are primarily vintage-inspired with a contemporary twist and are available exclusively through the company’s website and showrooms.
Although the organization is based out of New York you can still visit a showroom near your hometown. Miami hosts the Warby Parker Readery located at The Standard Spa in Miami Beach.

“This showroom carries the full collection of eyewear to try on, as well as a selection of non-prescription sunglasses available to purchase on the spot. The Readery is unable to provide pupillary distance (PD) measurements” (warbyparker.com/retail).

For more information on who Warby Parker is and what they do, check out warbyparker.com.

Finley is a freelance writer and research student at Liberty University. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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