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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • 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.