Dave Lukas Chats with Ben and Laura Harrison
114: “Seeing” Opportunity in Tough Times and Making it Happen with Ben and Laura Harrison
This week’s Misfit Entrepreneurs are Ben and Laura Harrison. Ben and Laura are the founders of Jonas Paul Eyewear. The company has been featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Harvard Business Review, to even a full segment about the company on NBC news.
Jonas Paul specializes in fashionable and stylish glasses for children…
Like a lot of Misfit Entrepreneurs, we’ve had on the show, Ben and Laura didn’t start out as eyewear entrepreneurs. Instead they encountered a problem and endeavored to find a solution to help their son, Jonas Paul. Through this - a mission and a company were born.
Nowadays, Jonas Paul helps children all over the world feel beautiful in their glass and gives a portion of every sale to help provide sight to children in need. Ben and Laura have a truly remarkable story and an incredible amount of useful experience and wisdom to share
Ben and Laura call themselves “recovering serial entrepreneurs.” Ben and Laura met in college. Ben was focused on work as a photographer and Laura on communications. They decided to grow the photography business to become destination photographers. In addition, the launched resources online for other photographers. Things were good. After 7 years of marriage, they decided to have a child. Everything seemed fine up until their child, Jonas Paul was born.
Laura ended up having to have an emergency c-section. When they brought Jonas over to her, the first words out of her mouth were, “Does he have pupils?” Since, he was just born, they dismissed it. But over the next few days reality began to set in. Jonas was born blind and was diagnosed with Peter’s anomaly, a very rare sight condition. It was very overwhelming as new parents to come to grips with how their child will not be able to see or even see their faces.
They went on an extensive journey in which by the age of 5, Jonas has had 22 eye surgeries to give him some aspect of sight and 4 cornea transplants that have all failed.
As this went on, Ben started searching for stylish eyewear for Jonas, so he could look cool in the glasses he needed to see what he could. Jonas was only 2 weeks old, but Ben was searching for something to combat his helplessness.
The search became an outlet and a mission that morphed into creating stylish eyewear for kids because there was nothing out there.
They started on Alibaba with some designs and found a manufacturer.
How did you launch the business?
What was your tipping point where you started to see massive growth?
What is working for you when it comes to digital marketing? What is driving sales online?
Anything outside digital?
Talk to us about building a culture with your business and what that means to the brand…
What advice do you have other husband and wife teams running a business or thinking about starting a business together?
What has surprised you most on your entrepreneurial journey together?
How has social entrepreneurship made an impact for the business and for you?
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