We are so excited to be sharing the story behind Jonas Paul Eyewear on our business blog today. If you are unfamiliar with the brand, it is a fashionable brand of kids glasses that started out of parents Laura and Ben Harrison’s need for their son. There is a lot more to it than that, but we want you to hear it from their point of view! So read on to learn more about their family and the company they have built. Plus, their office in Grand Rapids, Michigan is pretty rad and you will get to take a virtual tour of that while you read. But what’s even more rad? The brand provides funding to organizations preventing childhood blindness in the developing world—more on that below too!
Jonas Paul Eyewear stemmed from your own family’s struggles with eyesight and glasses. Can you tell us a little bit about your story and how that inspired you to create the brand?
6 years ago our son, Jonas, was born with a rare eye disease called Peter’s Anomaly, causing him to be born blind. We were devastated when we first heard the news (and it is still a difficult challenge we face every day) but we wanted to create as happy a life for Jonas as possible. Jonas ultimately underwent 21 eye surgeries to gain low-vision, and this still required the use of glasses. Once we started shopping around for glasses for Jonas, we were really shocked to see the lack of affordable and stylish options available for kids. We knew we wanted Jonas to feel like the little stud muffin that he is, and wanted other kids to have this same option. So, we decided to create this option ourselves! We left our careers behind to launch Jonas Paul Eyewear in 2013 to help as many kids as possible feel empowered and confident in their glasses.
We love that you created this together! How is it working with your spouse?
We definitely think of it as a blessing being able to share both our work and lives together. But we’ve certainly learned some valuable lessons about setting boundaries and creating autonomy between work and life! Of course, so much of work can spill into life and vice versa, but we do our best to practice boundaries, leaving work at work and not taking that home with us. We’ve also found it to be much more beneficial when we trust each other in the roles we’ve established. Our tip: don’t try to micromanage your spouse! When you treat each other with the same respect you would a co-worker, work can be a very happy place with your spouse.
How do you divide the roles and how have they evolved since the start of Jonas Paul?
In the early days of Jonas Paul Eyewear, we knew we wanted to define our roles and responsibilities and trust one another fully. Our roles within the business have certainly evolved and changed over the years as we have grown. In the beginning, we did everything from fulfilling orders to shipping to answering customer emails and design to website management, and beyond! As we’ve grown and our team has expanded we now have a different focus in overseeing more of the “big picture” and growth of the business. But we are still heavily involved and willing to jump into any day-to-day operations that need to be done.
How do you balance running a growing business and time with your family?
It isn’t easy, that’s for sure! We do try our best to focus on work when we are at work and be with the kids when we are at home. However, our business is our 3rd child and when work discussions creep in at home or on date night we don’t feel bad about it. Our work is a huge part of our life being married and business partners!
We love your modern office! What goes on here on a day-to-day basis?
We love it too! We knew we wanted an open concept and lots of natural light when looking for our new space. A lot happens in our office on a day to day basis since all of our prescription lab work is done here, in addition to shipping, processing and of course general teamwork and meetings!
We are excited about your mission to give sight to the world! Tell us a little more about your partnership with CBM International! Has giving back always been a foundational part of the business? Why is this important to you?
As parents to a child with impaired vision, we understand the stressors, confusion, and limitations that come along with blindness. We also recognize the tremendous privilege and access we have to doctors and special services. So as we built our company, we knew we wanted to help kids and parents who didn’t have the same access we did. Through our partnership with CBM International, we are able to provide sight-saving, and often life-saving, supplements and medications to areas across the world that have limited access to healthcare. Sometimes this can mean fighting against Vitamin A deficiency, and other times it can mean providing medication that fights trachoma, which can cause pink eye. We are so excited that Jonas Paul Eyewear has already helped provide more than 139,000 kids this sight-saving care, and can’t wait to see that number continue to grow!
What is the best piece of business advice you have ever received and tried to implement in your own journey?
Keep your blinders on! Throughout any entrepreneurial journey, you can get caught up in the struggle of comparison when you’re keeping your eye on the competition. Maintaining focus on your business, why you started, and innovating (not-appropriating), will help you find greater success and a more loyal following of customers that believe in what you are doing.
Where do you see Jonas Paul Eyewear in 5 years? Any fun projects we should know about?
We absolutely have some exciting new developments at Jonas Paul Eyewear in the works! We can’t give away too much detail just yet, but for now, we can tell you that we’ll be introducing more age ranges and product categories soon.