The Youngstown Business Incubator has a new tenant. It's Fitz Frames, a California-based startup that found Youngstown, Ohio had the additive manufacturing expertise it needed to get its business up and running.
Fitz Frames makes customized, 3D printed glasses for children. The idea was inspired by founder and co-CEO Heidi Hertel's own life.
Hertel has three children, two of whom have worn glasses since they were toddlers. She said she always found herself "disappointed" with the process of shopping for their glasses.
The choices are limited at retailers, so it can be difficult to find a frame in the style and color a child likes. And glasses for children tend to be designed for wide age ranges, even though there can be significant size differences between a 3-year-old and a 7-year-old.
"It's really hard to check all of those boxes off in one single pair of glasses," Hertel said.
And fit is particularly important for children's glasses, she added, because if glasses don't feel good, children aren't likely to wear them. And if they don't wear them and they can't see properly, performance in school and sports is likely to suffer.
"It makes it hard to be a kid," Hertel said.
Fitz Frames aims to make glasses that fit well and that children like. And it wants to make the process easy for parents.
To that end, part of Fitz Frames' business model includes an app for selecting and ordering glasses. Parents will take a photo of their child, which is used for measurements for the glasses, and help them with a virtual try-on process. Fitz Frames offers prescription glasses, as well as sunglasses and blue-light glasses. There's an option to buy a single pair or a subscription plan for a full year.