Rivet & Sway bags $2M for women's prescription glasses

Faith Merino · February 1, 2013 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2d4c

The company aims to be the leader in online shopping for women's eyewear

There are so many things I never thought would actually work with e-commerce—like jeans, bras, and perishable food. So far, I’ve been proven wrong on most of these (although I still refuse to buy jeans online). Another one I thought wouldn’t work was prescription eyewear—or any eyewear for that matter. And then along came Warby Parker with its own branded eyeglasses, low prices, and home try-ons. Now there’s a new player in the space: Rivet & Sway, an online boutique for women’s prescription glasses.

The company announced Friday that it has raised $2 million in a round of funding led by Mousse Partners, with help from existing investors Baseline Ventures and Harrison Metal. The investment brings Rivet & Sway’s total to $3.3 million raised to date.

Rivet & Sway launched last August is up against some tough odds. Warby Parker is the established name in the space, and Rivet & Sway has some catching up to do if it wants to compete. For starters, while Warby Parker’s glasses start at $95 (and indeed, most of the glasses on the site are $95), R&S’s glasses start at $199. Additionally, Warby Parker allows customers to select five pairs for a free home try-on, while Rivet & Sway limits customers to three pairs.

But CEO John Lusk tells me that Rivet & Sway isn’t targeting Warby Parker’s audience. While Warby Parker customers are set on the low price point, Lusk says that the Rivet & Sway customer is “deeply concerned about diverse styles of glasses that are designed exclusively for women, have superior frame and lens quality, and highly personalized service.” He also says that the $199 price tag is all inclusive—there’s no upselling of high-index lenses, it includes two-day shipping, and it includes a personal stylist on hand to help each individual customer.

Since launching six months ago, Lusk says that Rivet & Sway has fulfilled over 1,000 orders. In January, the company started to see its first repeat customers, and their largest order so far was seven pairs for a single customer.

Why is Rivet & Sway going after women, specifically? Why not women and men?

“After doing deep research, we realized that there was a HUGE need to innovate on and improve the Rx shopping experience for women,” said Lusk. “Specifically, they told us that 1) prices are too high and quality is marginal, 2) they don't like the annoying upselling and nickel and diming, 3) it's not a convenient process...takes way too much time, 4) very hard to find glasses that meet their personal style.”

He added: “Men and women are two completely different customers when it comes to eyewear shopping. They want different designs, different packaging, different services, different messaging, etc.”

The company plans to use the new funds for technology development, staffing resources, and marketing initiatives.

Rivet & Sway is currently offering a $50 off promotion for the month of February.

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Warby Parker is a transformative eyewear brand sold direct-to-consumer (at www.warbyparker.com) for a fraction of the price of glasses found in a retail store. And for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.