Our community has backed a few Kickstarters already: Eye Power Kids Wear, I See, You See, WE ALL SEE, and of course, my book, Glasses! I think crowdfunding is a great way to encourage new products that can meet the needs of a smallish community like us. And now there’s a new Kickstarter that just launched and needs your help! Lenz Frenz are adorable plush animals that can hold your child’s glasses in two different ways. They are a great way to encourage kids to learn to always put their glasses away in a safe place. I talked to the project creator Molly to get more details on the project. – Ann Z
Question: Tell me about your son and why he needs glasses.
Molly: Lenz Frenz began with a tragic incident involving my son Liam. He was stabbed in the eye at school, by a bully, with a sharpened pencil, and a quarter inch of lead broke off and lodged in his eye. He underwent emergency surgery in order to save his eye. At that time, we weren’t sure what to expect. We didn’t know if he would lose his eye, have vision loss, or remedial pain.
Question: Where did the idea for Lenz Frenz come from?
Molly: Lenz Frenz is an idea that my son had. We had been putting play glasses on his stuffed animals, during his recovery, in hopes of easing his transition to wearing eyeglasses, in case he needed to wear them. Liam came up with the idea that his animals would eat his glasses and store them in their bellies. We looked for similar products but when we couldn’t find anything like that, we made our own, and Lenz Frenz was born!
Question: Tell us a little about Lenz Frenz – which I find super, super cute, by the way. How do they work, and what features do they have? What ages are they intended for?
Molly: Lenz Frenz is a plush animal that securely stores and wears eyeglasses on its face and inside its protective belly case. We have 14” animals that have a full size hard eyeglass case mounted inside of the Lenz Frenz. Your child can store their eyeglasses safely inside this protective case, or place them safely on the Lenz Frenz face in the special holder for your glasses! We thought this would be a fun idea for children to have the Lenz Frenz character wear their glasses (the child’s). It can hold two pairs of eyeglasses! Our smaller size is 6.5”, and it holds a contact lens case. It can be clipped to a backpack or purse. We love the idea that our characters can safely wear glasses just like your child does!
Question: What was the design process like in developing the Lenz Frenz?
Molly: The design process was fun. We played with stuffed animals! For our first prototype, we went to Build-a-Bear as a family and purchased a few different stuffed animal shells. We used existing eyeglass cases and mounted them inside. From there, we did a ton of research to find the right materials and better design methods. Then we moved on to speak with character artists and began designing the Lenz Frenz animals we see today. My kids had a lot of fun selecting animals and coloring them so we could see numerous color choices. We also spoke with a few eye experts; surgeons, optometrists, and Ann Z.— founder of Little Four Eyes.com! Everyone has been so helpful and supportive.
Question: How did you choose the animals?
Molly: We asked our neighborhood children what their favorite animals were. We showed them pictures and had them vote on their favorites. I think I stopped every child I saw with glasses on and asked them questions. We wanted to make sure we had animals that were neutral, animals that girls prefer, and animals that boys tend to prefer.
Question: Do you think you might add more animals in the future?
Molly: Yes, I hope so! I love our animals. They’re like family. I’d love to add a few more Lenz Frenz to our line.
Question: Where should people go for more information? We have launched our campaign on Kickstarter. We’re also on Facebook (Lenz Frenz), and you can check out our website. Please visit us!
Question: What are your goals for this project?
Molly: We hope to raise $20,000 in order to bring our 14” bear and our 6.5” puppy to market! If we raise more than that, we’ll use those funds to manufacture more of our Lenz Frenz animals.
Question: You’ll be doing a Kickstarter for funding. What made you choose funding the project this way?
Molly: I think Kickstarter is an amazing forum. It’s creative, rewarding, and real. These are real people with real products who have a passion, and they’re willing to work hard to bring their ideas to market. It’s hard to ask others for help, especially to ask for anything monetary. If you’re on Kickstarter, then you’ve worked hard to create something and get it out there. You’re not giving up. You’ve got a dream and you’re asking others to help invest in your dream, and Kickstarter is how you’re going to fund that dream.
Question: Anything else you’d like to add?
Molly: We hope that Lenz Frenz will be a fun training system for children to remember to put their glasses away. It began as a comfort for a child, many children are totally comfortable wearing glasses because they always have. However, children can always use a little motivation to take care of their glasses 🙂
Thank you so much to Molly for answering our questions about Lenz Frenz!