Dharma Eyewear Co. makes killer glasses — like the ones in Shine — but what really sold us on their offerings is the brand behind ‘em. We stopped by the (very cool) studio to talk with Dhruv Jagasia, the founder, about how he turned a lifetime of experience into a business that upends the market by offering stylish specs for a fraction of what you’d pay at the eye doctor’s office.
How’d Dharma start?
I grew up in the eyewear industry — my dad’s been in the manufacturing side of the business for 40 years. Sometimes he’d take me with him to the factory, and I’d always have tons of glasses. My friends knew me as the glasses guy. So I learned about design, quality, and all that stuff you need to start an eyewear company. And since I’m more of a people person, I knew I wanted to start my own project rather than staying on the manufacturing side. We launched about a year and a half ago.
What was your philosophy going into it?
Accessibility. Glasses and lenses are really expensive, and they shouldn’t be. The cost is nowhere near what the asking price is at most places. That’s one half of it. The other half is that Dharma means “responsibility.” For every sale we donate 5% to a global vision charity, who give eyeglasses and eye exams to people who can’t afford it.
What about design-wise?
I always had a few ideas of styles that I liked over the years, so I came to the manufacturers with those. And then there were details, like simple barrel hinges versus flexible spring hinges, which we use on our newer models. Generally, when you’re looking at eyewear, that’s how you can tell the quality of the materials that are being used. And then for the styles, I wanted to create all kinds of shapes in all kinds of colors, for all kinds of tastes. I didn’t want to limit myself to a niche; I had a goal of providing stuff to everyone.
What should someone look for when they’re buying a pair of glasses?
The spring hinges is a big one. Also the weight of the acetate — if they’re too heavy, it’s going to get uncomfortable after a while.
For fit, everyone has one of three face types: round, square, or heart shaped. If you’ve got a heart shaped face, you can pull of pretty much any pair of glasses. And then rounder-faced people are better suited to rounder frames, and people with distinct jawlines are better off with a squared-off frame.
You also have to consider what your personality is like. If you don’t want to be too expressive, stick with black or tortoise, or if you want to be really colorful, pick something brighter.