Warby Parker: Doing Well By Doing Good

Posted on July 20, 2011


Benjamin Franklin is know for his philosophy of “doing well by doing good.” Ben also invented bifocals (and didn’t pursue a patent).

I recently ran across this brief news story in the Financial Times about a new company, Warby Parker, which seems to have Ben Franklin’s philosophy as part of its core mission.

Warby Parker sells affordable, vintage-inspired eyewear. Nothing particularly new there. Here’s the unique twist: For every pair of eyeglasses sold (at $95 each) Warby Parker delivers a pair of glasses to someone who wouldn’t otherwise have glasses. Warby Parker partners with nonprofit, NGOs to make this happen.

According to the Financial Times story, sales are near $5 million, so far. By my calculations, that’s around 52,000 pairs of eyeglasses sold in fewer than 2 years.

Not bad for a company established based on a business plan developed while the founders were students at the Wharton School of Business.

I don’t know anything about Warby Parker, other than what I’ve read. But it’s nice to hear about a business that cares about more than maximizing profits. I look forward to learning more about Warby Parker and I applaud their business strategy of “doing well by doing good.”

Milton Friedman is probably rolling in his grave.

We create  the society and culture we want to live in by the choices we make every day, in the products we choose to purchase and the foods we choose to eat. And in the businesses we choose to patronize.