Can reading glasses really be cool? A new eyewear company called Cheeterz Club thinks so. The startup is working to change the perception of reading glasses, which are nothing more than cheap disposable items you buy in a rotating display at your local drugstore, into something you would be proud to wear. To do this, the company designs its eyewear with quality lenses and frames in a range of styles, while maintaining affordable prices.
The startup – whose name is a reference to the slang term for glasses, “cheaters,” – was founded by Jennifer Farrelly, whose experience includes working in advertising and sales at companies like Uber and Virool. .
She said the idea of making a better set of readers came to her because she felt frustrated with the current options in the market.
“It all started a few years ago. My friends were posting these really depressing comments and posts on social media like, “I’m old and turning into my parents, that’s awful.” And me [thought to myself] why does it have to be like this? I feel as young today as I did ten years ago, ”explains Farrelly. “Why do my friends and I feel like we have to feel old because of something happening overnight?” She said, of what looked like the sudden onset of our fifties and difficulties that it entails.
The worst part, Farrelly says, is that when you finally go to the drugstore to pick out reading glasses, you’ll only find bad plastic pairs that look and feel cheap.
“It’s even more demoralizing,” she adds.
Farrelly has therefore teamed up with former Warby Parker and Pair Eyewear product manager, Lee Zaro, to design a new, more avant-garde eyewear line.
Zaro, who is based in the Los Angeles area, immediately saw the opportunity.
“Drugstore reading glasses are generally of poor quality and can appear to be designed for our parents, leaving a huge unmet need for sophisticated eyeglass options,” he said. “When Jennifer approached me to help her design her first eyewear line, I knew it was a brilliant idea. “
To differentiate itself from low-end readers, Cheeterz Club glasses are made from 100% acetate and feature spring hinges and stainless steel. Lenses, on the other hand, offer more clarity than what is often found in reading glasses.
Typically, ophthalmic plastic lens materials have an Abbe value – a measure of the degree to which light is scattered or separated – between 30 and 58. The higher number provides better optical performance. Crown glass can have an Abbe value as high as 59, but polycarbonate readers (like those from Warby Parker, Farrelly notes) would have an Abbe value of 30. Cheeterz Club lenses, which are CR-39 lenses, are recommended for use. 58. This is a difference you can see when you try on the glasses alongside your drugstore readers.
Cheeterz lenses also offer 100% UVA / UVB protection and are water and oil repellent. They can be purchased optionally in one of eight trendy shades, from pink to blue, or in two solar shades. Consumers can also choose to add a Blue Light coating to help with screen-induced eye strain or they can choose progressive lenses, which combine distance vision with a reading lens.
Shades are $ 10 more, blue light protection $ 25, and progressive lenses $ 40.99 – less than market rates.
At launch, Cheeterz Club offers 14 different styles ranging from traditional to modern, starting at $ 28.99.
Farrelly says finding the right price was essential because unlike regular eyeglasses, consumers often buy multiple pairs of readers to leave in the house or car, pack purses and bags, etc.
“If I break something that costs me a couple of $ 100, I would be really upset about it,” she says. “But for less than $ 30 at the drugstore, I can get them in all kinds of different colors and hues.”
For Farrelly, making the startup a success goes beyond bringing better quality reading glasses to market. It’s also about serving a demographic that is often overlooked.
“Founders in their forties are not represented, and that’s unfortunate. And there are also people in their 40s and 50s who have disposable income and are looking for cute things. They spend so much money on face creams and Botox, ”she says,“ but then you have to put that really ugly pair of glasses on your face that makes you feel bad about yourself.
While Cheeterz Club sells direct to the consumer today, the company caters to ophthalmologists, boutiques and others who could potentially resell for them, as a more B2B model. He is also testing selling on Amazon with a pair of Blue Light glasses.
Cheeterz Club plans to start discussing fundraising with seed investors later this fall.