KITS, Canada’s fastest-growing eyewear brand (based in B.C., to boot), has launched a new platform that lets you buy high-quality designer eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses, online at affordable prices, and is set to release the country’s first-ever online optical exams later this year. We chatted with co-founder Joseph Thompson about this news and everything eyewear. Peep the interview below! —Vita Daily
Hi Joseph! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I grew up in a big family, in a small town in Ontario. After a few decades living in the U.S. and abroad working for P&G and Amazon, our family discovered Vancouver and now we may never leave. I’m a father of two, t-ball coach, secret watcher of romantic comedies, ice-cream-sandwich aficionado, and I enjoy shipping eyecare products quickly.
When did KITS launch, and why?
In 2018, Roger, Sabrina and I decided it was time to rebuild the eyecare category to be more customer friendly. Did you know that 75 per cent of adults in North America require the use of either contact lenses or glasses each day, just to see? It’s a big, important, growing category but it’s still a complete mess for customers to shop. Many customers spend hours looking for the right eyecare provider only to realize they can’t afford the product they need, or are required to go to different shops for glasses or contact lenses or eye tests. Even after they purchase, customers wait for weeks for their glasses to be ready. As a result, many customers put off ordering new glasses or contact lenses or getting a new prescription for as long as they can. How can a 500-year-old category that is this big and important to customers still be this broken? So, we are building the future of eyecare, today with KITS. All the brands (including KITS-branded) products you could want, at a fair price, made and shipped directly to you immediately. We have assembled the best designers, the best materials and the best brands. We have built the most-automated lens lab in North America, so that we can start making your glasses to your prescription within 10 minutes of you placing your order. We have invested in the largest inventory of contact lenses in Canada so we’re more likely to have your prescription in stock. We ship most orders within hours of receiving them, so that you receive your eyecare fast. We back all this up with the best customer-service team in the industry (potentially the universe!). It’s important to have someone to talk to if you have any questions at all. As a result of the above, we have the highest review count and the most five-star reviews of any brand in the category. We are building a brand that will connect with Canadians. A brand you can trust with your eyes. We were in Kitsilano, in Vancouver, at the time we decided to launch into eyecare. If you’ve been to Kitsilano (or Kits, as the locals call it) you know that is the heartbeat of the city, with its energy, youth, style, beaches, view of the ocean and mountains. It has everything you need in one place. We thought this was a great inspiration for what we want to build—the heart-beat of the eyecare industry. We are happy to welcome everyone to KITS!
What makes KITS different than other eyewear brands out there?
KITS brings the full eyecare category to you, in the most convenient way, for the best value. We believe we are changing the way people shop for eyewear by transforming what has traditionally been a clinical, confusing, expensive, multi-visit transaction into an enjoyable and easy experience. Everything your eyes need, in one place. This includes:
- a full (and growing!) selection of eyeglasses, ranging from name brands like Tom Ford, Oakley, Gucci, Ray-Ban and many many more launching every week;
- thousands of hand-made KITS frames that were designed in Vancouver, and have been made in Italy, Japan, Asia, and the U.S.;
- the largest selection of branded contact lenses in Canada, and the biggest inventory of contact lenses, so that we’re more likely to have your prescription in stock for immediate shipment;
- KITS-branded, daily silicone hydrogel contact lenses, the highest product quality available in contact lenses at an incredible price point; and
- a complete eyecare solution on-site, including virtual try-on, the online vision test (coming soon in Canada) and partnerships with all insurance companies to apply for reimbursement.
In fact, we are so confident that you’ll be blown away by your experience with KITS, and become a customer for life, that we’re offering you your first pair of glasses with us completely free.
What’s the difference between shopping for glasses in store versus online? Any tips for online first-timers?
Shopping for glasses on KITS.com and KITS.ca is designed to be a treasure hunt for you. Get ready for more selection, and the ability to find the frame that’s right for you, from the comfort of your home! First, you can start with size. If you have glasses at home, look to the numbers on the inside of the temple for your current sizing. This is a great starting point for you to judge the size that is right for you. Next comes shape. We’ve created a guide for you to judge the best glasses for your specific face shape here. Now that you have selected a few pairs that you love, try the virtual try-on feature to see what they look like on you! After you enter your information and order, sit back and relax. Your glasses will go into production often within minutes. They will be made right here in Vancouver and sent to immediately in one to two days. And as always, we back up 100 per cent of our products. If anything isn’t perfect, let us know and we’ll make it right.
We hear you’re set to release Canada’s first-ever online optical exams later this year—can you tell us what that’s all about?
For us, the online vision test will complete the circle, allowing you to get your prescription, and then select, buy and receive eyecare right from your home. Many customers wonder if their eye prescription is still accurate, and want the peace of mind to know it is, before spending hundreds on glasses or contact lenses. The problem is that renewing your prescription is time consuming, expensive, and in some cases might not be possible right now. The KITS online vision test allows you to complete the eye test from your home in about five minutes. An optometrist or opthomologist then reviews your results electronically and gets back to you a few hours later. We are planning to roll this out in Canada later this year.
We know you’re headquartered in beautiful Vancouver; so, what KITS shades are you personally rocking on the beach and seawall this summer?
Right now, I’m wearing the KITS Sol, and Sol Sun. It’s a frame that is all metal and is handmade in a wonderful facility in the south of Italy. It was inspired by a trip we took to Milan as a team. It’s light, stylish and it makes me think of the Italian coast every time I put them on.
Win! A KITS Glasses, Sunglasses, Contacts Combo!
We have a winner! Congratulations Mary M. of Gibsons, B.C., who will receive a KITS Glasses, Sunglasses, Contacts Combo!