Frederik Thiele: A man with a mission
He was practically born wearing a pair of glasses. Now Frederik Thiele has decided to provide stylish reading glasses directly to consumers' doorsteps. The idea came about in a serendipitous way whilst he was in the corner of his shop at Copenhagen Airport.
At first, he imagined selling expensive sunglasses to expectant travellers craving the final addition to their wardrobes before an exotic, and overpriced, holiday. Instead, the travellers hastily came into his sunglasses store, desperately seeking something else:
”People came rushing in to grab a pair of reading glasses. Often they would queue up to find some of those cheap glasses like the ones they had forgotten at home and which they simply could not live without to enjoy their vacation. We ended up selling thousands of reading glasses, which completely startled our expectations! To begin with, our reading glasses were hidden in the back corner of the store”, Frederik explained.
Eventually, the reading glasses constituted half of Frederik Thiele's store and accounted for a vast part of the total revenue.
”It was a great surprise for me when I found out how extraordinary the demand was for cheap reading glasses! At that time, I had never put much thought into it and honestly just had the reading glasses on the shelves to serve as supplements to the sunglasses”, he confessed.
The herd of desperate airport customers ended up being an eye-opener for Frederik. Although he had already worked with glasses for decades at that time, he suddenly spotted a new and slightly overlooked niche within the business.
”I then began looking into which kind of reading glasses were readily available in the market and then I started driving around the country to see the selection in different stores. I pondered to myself that it must be possible to do it better than this. There was absolutely no-one in the retail business who cared for these reading glasses at all.”
One could say that Frederik Thieles was born for this! As his surname might reveal, Frederik was born into the Danish chain of glasses stores 'Thiele', which after 200 years of existence is the oldest optician business in Denmark.
Through many years of working in the family business, Frederik started his own smaller chain of spectacle-stores called 3 Optik which consisted of 6 stores where a few of them are located in the Danish Airport. As he worked on 3 Optik, which mainly sold high-end glasses, Frederik slowly expanded his interest in reading glasses.
Frederik Thiele & Luxreaders
Frederik Thiele has since 2018 been part of LUXREADERS, which in 2020 was titled the second-best new digital company by the Danish Chamber of Commerce. The mission behind LUXREADERS is being able to supply our customers with top-quality reading glasses directly to their homes, for the same price as the ones you would've bought at the supermarket or in other retail stores.
A great potential
Recently the market for reading glasses has exploded and the over-the-counter glasses are being sold everywhere from supermarkets to high-end fashion stores. Frederik Thiele noticed that the majority of the glasses sold were of abysmal quality and had rather questionable design. The overall poor quality and design, as well as the large sum of people with a dire dependence on reading glasses, was what inspired him to commence his journey back in 2017.
"It's completely surreal when I think about the quantity of reading glasses being sold! It's not only people in Denmark who have trouble reading, it's a global problem. Solely in Europe, there are 400 million pairs of reading glasses produced annually. Sadly, most of these cheap glasses are both low quality and just plain ugly!" he exclaims.
Feel good & Look good
That was when Frederik Thiele contacted his friend, investor Thomas Olsen, to find out if they could revolutionise the market. They wanted to bend the rules for buying reading glasses and create something that had impeccable design and quality whilst still being affordable.
With these strong requirements, they quickly came to the conclusion, that it should be an online shop. In 2018 they teamed up with the two e-commerce nerds, Nicki and Alexander Due, and together created the brand LUXREADERS - a 100% digital spectacle shop. Thanks to modern technology, it's now possible for customers to try on reading glasses using a virtual mirror and find out which shapes and colours best suit their desires.
"We have made a breakthrough with our Try-on technology in relations to giving the customers the optimal digital experience. It has also been a goal for us to match the price of normal reading glasses - in our web shop you just get a way better product" Frederik Thiele explains.
Besides the quality aspect, Frederik Thiele and co. have tried to establish a wide range of styles, giving the glasses different looks for different occasions. In the assortment you'll find glasses for a long day of gardening, some for festivities and some for the office.
"We've tried to fight the idea that reading glasses are the inevitable stage in your life. We have taken something that is viewed as rather unsexy and tried to make it stylish. The ambition has been to create something that is good enough to make the experience less complicated for the first time buyer. We wan't them to think "Well, these are actually pretty cool" Says Frederik.
After a rough start, it looks like Frederik's vision is finally about to succeed. Today LUXREADERS is selling their glasses online in more than ten different countries and are able to deliver the glasses extremely quickly to their customers no matter their location.
"It has been an really heavy project to jumpstart because of the requirements of keeping the prices down and quality to a max. It is finally beginning to pay off now. Some days we sell hundreds of glasses and we are starting to spot people wearing them in public. I personally find a huge excitement in spotting out covers and glasses in the cityscape or on the television. Our business is constantly reaching new destinations, and I'm very proud of that."