Frameri Plans to Change Your Eyeglasses Experience.

As a designer that wears glasses I have always liked the idea of being able to switch my frames out depending on my mood. I have never understood why manufacturers and designers of frames have never done a modular design that allows you to quickly and easily update your frames. Actually I do get it, frames are expensive and they’d prefer you to spend loads of money on multiple pairs. That doesn’t mean I have to like the idea, or the business model.

Frameri is a start up that launched on indigogo earlier this week that plans to stand the whole glasses industry on it’s head. Their concept is simple, one set of lenses, many frames, loads of looks. They havecreated he world’s first interchangeable prescription frame and lens system. Based on the video below it looks like they have a winning idea, and one that could be just as lucrative as the current eyeglasses world. Frameri knows all too well how limiting one single pair of glasses can be to an ever evolving wardrobe, so they decided to give us options. The frames are hand made in Italy from Zyl acetates, and will be offered in a variety of colors, styles and patterns. In just 3 days, they have raised just under $18,000 of their $30,000 goal. Based on that I think Frameri is going to be a success.

The Power of Search, and Changing Shopping Habits.

On Friday I received a notice that I had money left in my FLEX account that I have to spend by December 31st. It’s not a ton of money, but it is enough to cover the cost of new eyeglasses frames.

Today, I was down on the Plaza en-route to Three Dog Bakery to get some treats for Cosmo and Zoe, when I decided to drop into a locally owned eyeglasses shop and price out some frames.

This is where the power of the internet comes into play.

Just like I did 10 months ago when I bought new eyeglasses, I had the sales staff write down the model number, brand, and price. Then I immediately Googled the  frames I liked and did a price comparison. Just like last time, the frames I want are available online for half of what they are asking for them in the store. That’s right, half.

Including prescription transition lenses, with UV coating, polished edges and the drilling charge for rimless lenses, the cost is still over 100 bucks cheaper than the local store.

You would think in this day and age, of always connected, always on, internet in my hand, retailers would wise up and price accordingly. I checked the frames on 10 individual websites and the price variance was about 75 dollars from low to high, but even the highest priced site was still almost half of the cost at the store on the Plaza. I really feel like I should call the store and tell them about my experience, and explain to them that I’m not alone in my shopping habits, but I doubt it would have much impact.

To be fair, I did check with three other retailers in the metro. Retailers located in areas where the rent isn’t nearly as expensive as the Plaza. The thing is, they were all about the same for the frame price, so this isn’t isolated to the pricey Plaza shopping district here in Kansas City.

Simple Packaging, Nice Results.

One of my first jobs in the design industry involved the ancient art of cutting color for print production. It was a horrid job but it paid really well so it was my job for 2 long years .

The process for those of you that don’t know, involved placing sheets of Rubylith or Amberlith on top of a black and white negative the size of a newspaper spread. Then on a light table, you would take and Exacto knife and cut away the sections that would have color ink applied. After you would add screen values to the open areas to determine how much colored ink would go in that spot. This was done for each color (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black). When it was all done you shot another final negative on a copy camera with your “Stripped” film in place. All of this was done after you had spent hours pasting-up your original page spreads, and shooting negatives of them on a copy camera.

The whole process was tedious and it ruined your eyes. Well it ruined mine. I had perfect vision before, I have been slightly nearsighted ever since. So what is the point of all of this? Well this week I got new eyeglasses, and I love the packaging they came in.

When I first opened the box my glasses shipped in, I was greeted with a frosted crush proof plastic tube. The tube held my glasses, a cleaning rag, and documentation for the frames. IC! Berlin had eliminated the traditional glasses case knowing that 95% of all glasses owners do not use the case that their glasses come in. This move allowed the designers of the packaging to take a whole new approach to how they delivered the glasses, and reduce the carbon footprint needed to get them to you.

The case is a simple tube. The top literally screws to the bottom with a twist off sleeve that doubles as the cap and adds structural reinforcement  to the package as the ribs of the closing mechanism create additional structure to the shape. The result is a double walled sleeve that holds your eyeglasses. The package is very simple, with te IC! Berlin logo screen printed on the side. Nothing fancy, just simple ingenious packaging that uses fewer materials than a traditional case, costs less to ship due to reduced weight, and is 100% recyclable.

Frankly I think this is a much better solution than the last three or four pairs of glasses that I have bought. Each one of those came in lager box, one that would accommodate the eyeglasses case. Each one of the cases was usually some form of plastic wrapped box that was lined with some polyester material, that held the glasses and paperwork. I have one case left from my previous pair of frames for reference so I can’t give an accurate materials list. The case for my last frames though is a fairly complex plastic over-wrap box with embossed surfaces, and chrome hinges. It couldn’t have been cheap to produce, and the case itself weighs in at 4 ounces which adds overhead to the shipping.

So hats off to you IC! Berlin for a better solution. I have no idea if their intention was to reduce materials and create a more green solution to their packaging. Either way, they did.


I Love Shopping Online.

After 3 years I finally got around to buying a new pair of glasses. I know you are supposed to go in and get your eyes checked every year, and buy new glasses if you need them, but I never seem to think about it. I probably don’t because my vision isn’t that bad and in the last three years there was barely any change at all to my vision.

After looking at what seemed like a million pairs of frames, and after having sales staff try repeatedly to sell me a $1200.00 pair of platinum Cartier frames. I left the opticians office and show room in search of something a bit more affordable, and a bit more designer stylish. What I ended up getting were IC! Berlin Yevgeny G frames in dark gray gun-metal.

Originally I was going to purchase from a local shop over in the Brookside neighborhood of Kansas City, but when the sales guy quoted me almost $600.00 bucks for just the lenses, and a price on the frames that was about $100.00 above the list price, I turned to my good old friend the internet for some online savings. And this is why I love shopping online. I found the exact same frame, with lenses for less than the cost of the frames alone locally. Free shipping, no tax. So, while I had to wait a week to get the new specs, I did save enough money that I can buy a second pair of dedicated sunglasses with the money left over in my medical FLEX account.

In today’s world of total connectivity, I am really surprised that more shops don’t offer a price match on things you find online. I get that I would have had to pay sales tax, and I’m OK with that. What I don’t get is, when I called the store and asked them if they could match the price, they said no. They wouldn’t even work with me. If they had, I would probably be writing a post about that store, the great sales staff, and how they went out of their way to help me. Instead I am going to tell you how Blink Optical in Lake Forrest Illinois did such a great job.

I left the store in Brookside, got in my car, fired up Safari on my iPhone and did a search on the frames. Google brought back a number of hits, but Blink Optical had the best price. I jumped from Safari to the phone, called the local store that I was parked in front of and asked them if they could match Blink Optical’s price. They said no, and I moved on. I hung up the phone, jumped back to the browser, clicked the phone number and called Blink. With prescription in hand, I placed my order over the phone in less than five minutes and got a confirmation email sent to me. It was seamless. The staff was great, the experience was painless, and I saved a bunch of money. Money that could have gone back into the local economic ecosystem if the local store had been willing to work with me.

Out of curiosity I called Blink later that week and spoke with one of the sales staff. I was curious about the size of the shop, how long they had been in business, and how long they had been working with an online store front. The answers didn’t surprise me. They are a small locally owned shop, that has had an online presence for a few years. They are basically the same as the shop I went to in Kansas City, but with two big differences. First I can buy frames online, I didn’t have to call them. Second, they do their homework, and will work with you on price matching if you find the same item online for less money.

I had two final questions for Blink. How much online business do they do? and What is the furthest they have shipped glasses to? They said most of the business is still walk in to the store, but they are seeing an increase in online sales. And the furthest they had shipped to was South Africa. Not bad for a small optical shop in Lake Forest, Illinois.