You know you run a snazzy business when you and your co-workers wear war paint in the conference room and don the occasional pair of pasties.
Though it might sound like an episode of "Family Guy," this is the story of Warby Parker
, an eyewear company founded earlier this year by four young men in New York. They did it all to give us "boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point." All of which might be better described as good-looking, cheap glasses that you can actually try on at home before you buy.
Keep reading to learn about Warby Parker's zany antics and how to sport a Colonel Mustard–style monocle on a Napoleon Dynamite budget.
The Business Model: Eff the Middle Dudes
"It sucks paying $400 for uninspired frames," says Neil Blumenthal, one of Warby Parker's founders. "It doubly sucks to then lose that pair and pay $400 a second time."
The four founders had all experienced this lamentable scenario. Inspired by the copious amounts of precious cash wasted on their overpriced spectacles, they decided to rally together and create their own eyewear business model.
"I knew we could dramatically lower the price of glasses without sacrificing quality just by cutting out the middlemen," Blumenthal explained to Asylum. "Warby Parker bypasses the optical shops and large licensing companies that inflate prices and reap astronomical profits."
And the result? Ultra-savvy glasses available for a flat $95, with shipping, including their refined, Colonel Mustard–inspired monocle
. (Is the world ready for monocles coming back in style
?) There's a bonus, too -- clients get to try on as many pairs as they want at home
before committing to a purchase. If you buy some glasses, they also donate a pair
to someone in need.
Now that's good business. Still, don't let Warby Parker's smooth business skills fool you into thinking they're another boring company. Although some of their antics may qualify as frat boy behavior, these four young men know how to keep things fresh around the office.
The Zany Men of Warby Parker
"We've been known to wear war paint during naming sessions on particularly busy days," Blumenthal tells us.
While visiting Marine Corps Officer Candidate School
in Virginia for a leadership training program, he purchased some camouflage for future Warby Parker meetings. He explains, "We wanted to be battle ready for brainstorming sessions."
The Warby Parker clan also lead interesting lives outside the office, which likely has a lot to do with their success at work. Collectively, they have a "penchant for outrageous outfits, an affinity for vintage collectibles and a strong desire to make the world a better place."
Andrew Hunt has studied eyewear in over 40 countries, Jeffrey Raider is described as having "quirky yet impeccable taste," and Blumenthal spent five years traveling throughout the world handing out glasses to those in need. Perhaps more importantly, David Gilboa is the fastest person ever to run a marathon in a flamingo costume (pictured).
"Dave has been known to wear a silver sequin hat with matching tie and pasties
," Blumenthal reports.
Nipple tassels and all, the lads of Warby Parker appear to be good at what they do.
"We love the people we work with and the customers we work for," Blumenthal explains to Asylum. "And our customers reciprocate by sending us the most amazing emails. It's pretty cool to wake up to -- even after four hours of sleep."
Along the way, the Warby Parker men have learned a few lessons about starting and maintaining a business. For one, there's no denying the stress and lack of sleep that accompanies such an endeavor. To combat this, they show us it's smart to be passionate about the work you're doing and to have fun along the way. Even if that means mooning your co-workers after-hours or throwing back a few adult b every once in a while. And don't forget to eff the middleman.