Warby Parker is not pretentious! (says its co-founder)
A few weeks ago, New York Magazine published a profile of Warby Parker that painted it in a less than flattering light, the sort of company "rhapsodized about by those trying to understand the 18-to-34 demographic." When Sarah Lacy brought that up with Neil Blumenthal at PandoMonthly, he laughed nervously and said, "I'm not sure that I agree with some of the points in that New York Magazine article. I don't think of ourselves as an insufferable millennial hipster representation."
But Blumenthal agrees that the company has a lot of traits consistent with millennials, and that's something he's proud of. "Millennials care about learning everyday, and I think I'm one of them. I like to group myself in there -- it depends where the age cut off is."
"You're the old guy at the Britney Spears concert?" Sarah Lacy said.
Although older than most of the people he employs, Blumenthal wants Warby to be identified with millennial values. "[M]illennials...care about the environment, care about social issues like health and education, income inequality, international development," Blumenthal said.
He cited Warby's participation in the local community like working with homeless shelter arts group Free Arts NYC and its well known charity policy, where for every pair of glasses purchased, the company gives a pair to someone in need. He also told the story of Warby releasing an annual report to its customers detailing how and why it does business --an effort to be more transparent -- and then sales spiked.
"Good things come out of when you are thinking about the customer, trying to do what's fun and what's right," Blumenthal said.