The second in a series featuring RestoringVision’s corporate partnerships and global impact.
Warby Parker was founded in 2010 with a mission to inspire and impact the world with vision, purpose, and style–without charging a premium for it. Rooted in our shared goal of vision for all, Warby Parker and RestoringVision have been partnering since 2019 and together have provided glasses to communities across 22 countries.
Here, we speak with Hannah Kowalski, who serves as Senior Manager of Social Innovation at Warby Parker, in a Q&A feature.
Can you describe Warby Parker’s dedication to CSR and why it is important to your company and culture?
At Warby Parker, we believe that everyone should have access to vision care, and our aim is to demonstrate that a business can scale while doing good in the world, without charging a premium for it.
One of the ways we do this is by providing glasses to people in need globally and domestically with the help of our nonprofit partners like RestoringVision. Because our Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program–which distributes a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair of glasses or sunglasses we sell–has been an integral part of our business model since day one, it’s scaled organically as the company has grown. We’ve also expanded our Do Good initiatives over time, with the creation of Pupils Project, our program with organizations and local government agencies that provides free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to schoolchildren in the United States, and the Warby Parker Impact Foundation, a public charity dedicated to helping people overcome the barriers that prevent them from receiving quality vision care.
Can you briefly describe the history of Warby Parker’s dedication to the partnership with RestoringVision and why it is important to your philanthropic efforts?
Warby Parker began working with RestoringVision in 2019 as part of our Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. We partner with a handful of nonprofits as part of this program, each with a unique distribution model. Through our partnership with RestoringVision, we are able to reach individuals living on less than $2 per day and communities with different needs, access, and awareness around vision care—plus distribute reading glasses to even more geographical regions and markets than we’ve ever served before. We’ve also partnered together to help build out vision access programs for refugees and individuals displaced by conflict.
Why is giving back a part of doing good business in your eyes?
With ongoing global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis impacting communities across the world, more and more consumers and employees are aligning themselves with companies that are both committed to positive social change and invested in caring for their own teams. We believe it is becoming increasingly critical for the private sector to step up its role in solving global issues.
Since our founding, Warby Parker has aimed to make an impact in the communities we serve, and we continue to build social impact into our corporate structure.
In 2021, we converted to a Public Benefit Corporation, a legally binding status that holds Warby Parker to an even higher standard of transparency and accountability—and allows leadership and our board of directors to make decisions taking into account the interests of all of our stakeholders. In addition to being a public benefit corporation, we’re also a certified B Corporation (B Corp). B Corp is a designation that indicates a company’s commitment to evaluating how the business impacts its team, customers, the environment, and the greater community. We believe this status complements us being a public benefit corporation, helps us evaluate our progress in achieving our stated public benefits, and further serves as a testament to the high standards we hold ourselves against.
Looking ahead, what are you most looking forward to in terms of the impact Warby Parker’s philanthropic partnership with RestoringVision will have this year and beyond?
Since we began our partnership with RestoringVision in 2019, we’ve created tremendous impact together in a short period of time. This includes RestoringVision responding rapidly to changing needs in the communities in which they operate, particularly with the many pivots required during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re excited to continue growing our partnership to establish scalable and sustainable solutions to vision care in even more communities around the world.
What would you say to encourage other companies to engage in philanthropic partnerships or to get involved in solving the global vision crisis in other ways?
To date, Warby Parker has distributed over 10 million pairs of glasses to those in need through our Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. This tremendous accomplishment was only possible thanks to our partners like RestoringVision. With this in mind, we would emphasize to other companies that through partnership, real impact is possible. It is our hope that others step up and take action in their own ways, as we believe it’s our collective responsibility to use the power of business to make a positive impact on the world.
About Warby Parker
Warby Parker was founded in 2010 with a mission to inspire and impact the world with vision, purpose, and style–without charging a premium for it. Headquartered in New York City, the co-founder-led lifestyle brand pioneers ideas, designs products, and develops technologies that help people see, from designer-quality prescription glasses (starting at $95) and contacts, to eye exams and vision tests available online and in more than 200 retail stores across the U.S. and Canada.
Warby Parker aims to demonstrate that businesses can scale while doing good in the world. Ultimately, the brand believes in vision for all, which is why for every pair of glasses or sunglasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need through their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program.
Learn more at www.warbyparker.com