When DFA Stanford alum Nathan Kondamuri began wearing glasses at the age of eight, he found the experience dreadful. Aside from the general “uncool” factor, his glasses felt more like a glaring medical device that didn’t fit his personality.
Just like Nathan, many kids today don’t like wearing glasses for those same reasons and they ‘forget’ to put them on or ‘forget’ to take them to school. Some children are afraid of being teased, that they won’t be able to play sports or fit in with others, and a whole heap of other things. This brings up a serious issue – If kids don’t want to wear a device that allows them to see, how can they perform successfully in school?
For Nathan, the challenge became quite clear: if kids don’t wear glasses because they’re “uncool,” how can we create eyewear that kids think are cool? Nathan and fellow DFA Stanford alum, Sophia Edelstein, spent the last few years as students exploring this topic and this past October, Pair Eyewear launched. Based off of a simple yet innovative concept, Pair allows kids the chance to have fun and express themselves wearing interchangeable eyeglass frames, so they can switch up their look everyday.
Sophia and Nathan cite Design for America as helping them to navigate the research process, providing the tools for iteration and user observation. DFA methods showed them how to put research first, finding the root of the problem before jumping into solutions. During user research, the team was surprised to discover the diversity of style preferences amongst the kids they met. They learned that kids are into more mature styles, which led them to focus in on the premise of Pair.
Pair Eyewear began with a focus on helping children understand the purpose of prescription glasses, but has gone through many iterations since. In 2015, they took the idea to the San Mateo Maker Faire. They showcased their concept to around 2,000 children and parents, giving their project the traction and momentum it needed to become a company.
Now dubbed “the Warby Parker for kids,” Pair has a familiar buy one, give one premise. They have partnered with EYElliance, an organization that provides eye care to children across the world. For each pair of glasses purchased, they donate a pair of glasses to a child in need. This partnership widens the impact of their work to a global level of accessibility.
Pair Eyewear is redesigning the glasses experience, making it engaging for children and painless for parents with a mission to ensure every school aged child has access to prescription glasses. Design for America is proud to support ideas that start at DFA campus studios and develop into entrepreneurial ventures; ideas like these can ultimately change our world for the better.