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Women Turning Readers Into Fashion Accessories
by Thea Wood, TheaWood.com
Patti Lee-Hoffman and Gayle Haworth are on a mission to make your readers as fashionable as your favorite pair of shoes.
Like so many midlife women, they struggled with finding beautiful frames designed for their face shapes in the right colors and magnification. After a disappointing visit to the local drugstore, “instead of bringing home the Manolo Blahnik® of reading glasses, she (Patti) brought home a functional pair of Crocs®” Gayle didn’t have any luck with Neiman Marcus’ limited, yet pricey, selection due to frame designs and the wrong lens power.
Online stores offered hundreds of options, but there wasn’t a true way to see how they would look on your face nor guarantee quality.
The market for reading glasses is enormous and getting larger every day with Baby Boomers and Gen Xers almost all wearing them now. Reduced near vision in middle age is known medically as presbyopia, from the Greek meaning “old eyes” or “aging eyes.” Depending on your source, studies conclude that 96 to 100 percent of the population will eventually need readers as a result of aging eyes.
Thus, the nickname “granny glasses” for readers. But who wants to look and feel old when 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40? Why can’t readers be a personality statement rather than an age indicator?
Patti (co-founder of a consulting firm and lives in San Francisco) and Gayle (an international biotech executive who lives in Santa Fe) turned to their entrepreneurial and executive skills to solve the problem. Flutter, Inc. was born with a vision: Create a website that offers our own elegant and affordable collection of reading glasses filter-able for different face shapes and sizes.
What’s really cool about it? They integrated high-tech and low-tech tools for finding your perfect pair. Remember those cut-out paper clothes from school that you could color and decorate for your paper doll? Now, you can print out a paper frames based on Flutter design measurements to see exactly how they’ll fit your face. Each frame comes with suggested face shapes to help narrow down the process. Choose your lens power, color, and you’re ready to go.
For every pair of glasses sold, Flutter donates 50 cents (up to $50,000) in donations to Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing assistance dogs.
Patti answered a few questions about running Flutter and finding the right readers.
SS: You both have high-demand careers outside of Flutter. How do you handle both effectively?
PLH: I’ve always had jobs with intense time pressure (i.e., billing in 15-minute increments, 20 grad school recommendations due simultaneously, raise enough capital in 30 days or lose your $1 million deposit) with a bottomless in-tray. It forces you to be very disciplined. For business, home, non-profit work, I keep a running 12-month calendar, filling in details as they become known. Most importantly, I have a very supportive husband who is a stay-at-home father.
SS: I love the funky frame names. Who comes up with them and how does she choose the names?
PLH: The frame names are inspired by Patti’s favorite literary heroines and authors – Angela’s Ashes and Ayn Rand, for example.
SS: Women can buy designer readers (like Derek Lam or Kate Spade) through many online sites. Why is Flutter different?
PLH: The breadth of the Flutter collection (70+ frames/colors) allows women to accessorize their ensembles with coordinating readers. No self-respecting, fashionable woman only has one pair of shoes. And since there are at least four Flutter readers to perfectly fit every face shape at an affordable price of $85, every woman can and should have her own capsule collection to match her wardrobe.
SS: What “Dos & Don’ts” can you share about choosing the right frame?
PLH: Our website has a lot of useful tools to select the perfect frames including:
- Learn your face shape
- Based upon your face shape, find which glasses are most complementary
- Use the lens power tool
- Try-on tool with your uploaded picture (or a model with your same face shape)
- Compare function to see, side-by-side, all the frames you are considering
- Filter capabilities to narrow the possibilities to those frames which are most complementary