Neil Blumenthal Is Behind Each Pair of Distributed Warby Parker Glasses

Company Co-Founder Created Novel Philanthropic Model

Glass Half Full: Neil Blumenthal is one of the four founders of Warby Parker.
Courtesy of Warby Parker
Glass Half Full: Neil Blumenthal is one of the four founders of Warby Parker.

By Margaret Eby

Published November 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The focus on philanthropy, Blumenthal thinks, is a generational turn. Consumers now demand the kind of transparency that wasn’t available several decades ago, and often use their purchasing power to support companies in line with their values.

“For the first time in history, there’s at least an acknowledgement that mission and profitability are strongly tied,” Blumenthal said. “You can’t build a brand like you could in the past, through a single image of a fictitious world. You’re living on the internet, where consumers not only can learn about you but can engage with you.”

The buy-one-donate-one strategy is part of Warby Parker’s brand. Ordering up a pair of chic frames for oneself and an unknown recipient provides the consumer with a more tangible connection to the company’s charitable mission, than would, say the company donating a portion of profits at the end of every quarter.

“We debated committing a percent of revenue or profit, but in the beginning, that would have been a negligible amount,” Blumenthal said. “But more importantly, [the data] could be manipulated. And dollars do not necessarily equal impact, glasses on face equals impact. For us it’s a lot more impactful than some arbitrary cash amount, and it’s easier for our customer to understand. We’ve found, from a business standpoint, that it also helps us recruit and retain great talent.”

The company’s philanthropic focus is crucial to its reputation — both for consumers and for the freshly graduated college students who want to work for it. Blumenthal cites research showing that a good proportion of millennials “choose mission over compensation” when choosing where to work.

Co-founder Raider, the other Jewish member of the founding Warby Parker team, recently duplicated the Warby Parker philanthropy model when he made his own spin-off company, Harry’s, which sells high-end razors. Raider initially implemented a similar policy distributing a razor for every one sold.

But eyeglasses and razors are vastly different products. The urgency that Warby Parker tapped into by distributing glasses doesn’t necessarily translate to helping men, even men in need, stay groomed. People need to see. Arguing that trim facial hair is a human right is a harder sell.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.