We have a couple of ground
rules at Warby Parker.*
Treat customers the way we’d like to be treated.
They don’t call it the golden rule for nothing. Shopping for glasses should be fun, easy, and not ridiculously expensive.
Create an environment where employees can think big, have fun, and do good.
Sometimes people say to us: “If you love your job so much, why don’t you marry it?” (Answer: we would if we could.)
Get out there.
No company is an island. Serving the community is in our DNA—from distributing a pair of frames for every pair sold to sponsoring a local Little League team (Go Coyotes!). We also work with Verité to ensure that our factories have fair working conditions and happy employees.
Green is good.
Warby Parker is one of the only carbon-neutral eyewear brands in the world.
Our customers, employees, community and environment are our stakeholders. We consider them in every decision that we make.
Here maybe we can answer ’em.
Where does the name “Warby Parker” come from?
The stork. (Just kidding.)
In May 2009, our co-founder Dave was wandering around the New York Public Library when he stumbled into an exhibition about Jack Kerouac. The four of us had long been inspired by Kerouac, who spurred a generation to take the road less traveled.
The exhibit included some of Kerouac’s manuscripts, drafts, and journals. In one of the journals, Dave noticed two characters with interesting names: Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker. We combined the two and came up with Warby Parker.
So your name comes from a book, huh. Will you recommend a book for me to read?
Sure! Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums is one of our favorites. (Employees get a copy on their first day, as part of our standard secret initiation rites.) If you like adventure, try A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes. If you’re the nonfiction type, John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead will knock you flat. (In a good way.)
If you’re a fast reader and want more recommendations, our retail stores are stocked with excellent books.
How is it possible to sell high-quality prescription glasses for $95?
Most high-end brands do not produce their own eyewear. Instead, they sell those rights to massive companies who design, manufacture, and sell branded glasses directly to optical shops. Those optical shops tack on additional mark-ups to frames and lenses before selling them to you.
We cut out the middleman by designing and producing our own eyewear, then passing on the savings to customers. We effectively sell glasses wholesale (because it makes no sense for customers to pay for multiple mark-ups).
Who started Warby Parker?
Meet our founding fathers.
As the former director of non-profit VisionSpring, Neil spent the better part of five years distributing glasses to people living on less than $4 per day. A native of New York City, Neil is a Leo and enjoys long walks in the park. With Dave, he is co-CEO of Warby Parker.
Hall and Oates, “Maneater”
On a beach in the Galápagos, surrounded by blue-footed boobies.
Like a Viking from his native Sweden, Dave spends his free time seeking adventure. Two recent conquests include trekking across Antarctica and becoming the fastest person ever to run a marathon in a flamingo costume. With Neil, he is co-CEO of Warby Parker.
Lionel Richie, “Lady”
In any ocean, but preferably Del Mar.
Andy has studied eyewear design in more than 40 countries. Rumors that he conceived the idea for Warby Parker at a temple in the jungle city of Angkor Wat remain unsubstantiated but plausible. Andy is currently continuing the adventure at Highland Capital Partners.
The Rolling Stones, “Satisfaction”
Any beach that requires a passport stamp.
A bespectacled man for life, Jeff wanted to start Warby Parker because he couldn’t find any frames on the market that fit his quirky yet impeccable taste. Because his passion for glasses is matched only by his enthusiasm for a baby’s-bottom-caliber shave, Jeff went on to co-found Harry’s.
Building elaborate sandcastles with wife and kids.
Why do you distribute glasses to people in need?
When we started the company, we had two goals:
- Offer an alternative to the overpriced and underwhelming eyewear that was available to us.
- Build a business that could solve problems instead of creating them.
In our efforts to fulfill requirement #2, we work with nonprofits to train individuals across the globe to give basic eye exams and bring glasses to their communities. You can get a step-by-step breakdown of the process here.
How do you calculate the impact of your Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program?
Excellent question. One of our main sources is the World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations that focuses on public health worldwide. If you’re interested in exploring the topic of vision impairment, here’s a paper that goes into great depth
on the subject (put on your thinking cap!). Another great resource is the website of one of our primary partners, VisionSpring. There you can find more stats, stories, and research.
I read that Warby Parker is a “B Corporation”. What does that mean? Does the “B” stand for “bagpipe”?
Excellent guess, but no. A “B Corporation” is a company that has been independently evaluated by B Lab (a pioneering non-profit) and found to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. For the full rundown on how we’re performing, read our most recent report card. For bagpipes, step this way.