Chromos Eyewear Founder Gives Back through Free Glasses Program
Nov 30, 2015 06:11PM
● By Vanessa Orr
Daniel Childs started Chromos to provide affordable eyewear options.
Childs first started his company while still a student at Syracuse University, where he decided to develop a line of quality sunglasses for the college market that was more affordable than the big brand names. “We named the company Chromos, because our sunglasses protect people from UV rays, which are emitted by the sun—specifically the chromosphere,” he explained. “Our brand meets a need between established brands that charge more than $100 for a quality frame, and their disposable $15 counterparts.” Today, the company continues to carry sunglasses and has also added a full optical line with approximately 70 styles of glasses as well as contact lenses.
Childs was no stranger to the eyewear industry. The son of Eyetique founder, Norman Childs, he grew up in the business. “At age 5, I was going into the store and cleaning to earn $5 for a pack of baseball cards,” he said. “In high school, I started learning the business end, though I’m obviously still learning. It was a good head start, and I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than my dad.”
Chromos products are mainly geared to a younger, socially conscious customer who appreciates a good product at an affordable rate, according to Childs. His customers also appreciate that every pair of eyeglasses sold results in a free pair of glasses for a local school student. “The Chromos Cares program is what I’m most proud of,” said Childs of the business’ partnership with the Pittsburgh Public Schools. “For every pair of glasses bought, we give a free pair away.”
To date, Chromos Cares has already provided 70 free exams at Pittsburgh Arsenal, Pittsburgh Arlington and Pittsburgh Manchester schools, resulting in 63 children being given free pairs of glasses. Children are screened and prequalified for the exams, and those who need glasses receive a pair the next week. “For some of these children it was the first time they have ever had glasses, and seeing the looks on their faces when things were clear is a feeling our team will never forget,” said Childs.
“I went to the eyeglass fitting at Pittsburgh Arlington, and one of the boys cried, ‘I can see!’ with a big smile on his face,” added Dara Ware Allen, Ph.D., assistant superintendent of Student Support Services for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. “That says it all and is very representative of the need that’s being met.
“We are exceptionally thrilled about this partnership with Chromos Cares, especially as it involves such a sizable number of schools where students are going to benefit—it’s really a tremendous gift,” she added. “It’s too early to tell, but we’re also hoping that this translates into students doing better in school as well.”
According to the American Foundation for Vision Awareness, up to 25 percent of all school-age children have vision problems significant enough to impair their academic performance, and that rate could be as high as 60 percent for those children labeled as having learning problems.
According to Childs, he plans to continue to ramp up the Chromos Cares program, potentially adding more locations. “The program is only 4 months old now, but in the future, I’d like to have a bus retrofitted so that we can just pull up to a school and do exams on-site,” he said. “The kids could come into the bus, get an exam, and we could make the glasses right there—that would make it quicker and easier to give glasses away.
“Right now, we’re donating about 500 pairs a year,” said Childs, who adds that he wears his love for Pittsburgh on his sleeve and greatly enjoys giving back to the community that he feels gave him so much. “Our goal is to give away 3,000 pairs per year, which is a pretty big goal for us.”
In the meantime, Childs continues to grow his brand, offering products online, in Eyetique and Three Guys Optical, and at his flagship store at 5166 Butler Street. “I’m planning on also turning half of our store into an art gallery, where we’ll feature different local Pittsburgh artists, rotating shows every two months,” he said. “The fact that we’re located in Lawrenceville, which has a really unique vibe, is a cool aspect of the store, so we want people to come in and check us out.”
For more information about Chromos Eyewear or Chromos Cares, visit www.chromoseyewear.com.