A collaboration between four close friends, Warby Parker was conceived as an alternative to the overpriced and bland eyewear available in the marketplace. By circumventing traditional channels and engaging with customers directly online, Warby Parker provides higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the price. Adding to the unique quality of their business model, a foundational cause program ensures that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.
Warby Parker partners with nonprofits like VisionSpring and Community Enterprise Solutions to address the fact that almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses. Although social mission is woven into the DNA of Warby Parker, it is not the first consideration a customer takes into account when picking out a pair of glasses. First and foremost, they want a beautiful, well-crafted product. Second, they look at price. Customer service comes next. If it’s a consideration at all in a customer’s purchase, Warby Parker shares that their mission-driven status comes in last.
At the end of each month, Warby Parker tallies all the glasses sold and makes a cash donation to their partners to cover the cost of producing that number of glasses. They, in turn, distribute these glasses to local entrepreneurs who sell their glasses to members of their communities at affordable prices. To date more than 250,000 pairs of glasses were distributed to those in need.
Warby Parker is proud of the impact they’re creating. A single pair of reading glasses causes, on average, a 35% increase in productivity and a 20% increase in income. It’s the equivalent of adding an extra day to someone’s work week. The company feels strongly that when glasses are sold instead of donated, the pitfall of creating a culture of dependence is avoided and in its place, a powerful economic incentive is created.