When you find the right fit in style and beauty, you probably take a deep sigh of relief. It’s a moment of simple bliss. More often than not, many of us settle for less tailored products because of the lack of inclusivity in the fashion and beauty industries. However, there is a rise of innovative entrepreneurs dedicated to providing apparel, accessories, and cosmetics that embrace our differences.
Instead of waiting for retailers to provide inclusive styles, founders Florence Shin and Athina Wang launched Covry, an eyewear brand made for diverse face shapes. As a member of the Asian Americeans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community, Shin tells us she did not have the face shape mainstream eyewear is designed to fit.
Not all faces have the same features, and eyewear brands such as Warby Parker and Oliver Peoples provide alternative fits to their products to answer this. From the ground up, Covry provides a comfortable fit based on the measurements of different facial structures while keeping Asian faces in mind.
Shin went through her adolescent years, high school, college, and a career in the fashion industry constantly adjusting glasses that were never designed with her needs in mind. In 2015, she decided she had pushed her glasses back onto her nose for the last time. Covry began as a crowdfunding project that has now grown into a company with everything from prescription eyewear, to blue light glasses, and sunglasses.
“Being born and raised in the United States, we’ve always struggled with eyewear that never fit us,” Shin remembers, “[Athina and I] thought, ‘okay, maybe there’s a better way to change the fit so that it’s more comfortable, for us.’ And that’s when we launched our signature Elevated Fit®.”
What was originally a plan to fix a problem she had dealt with her whole life turned into a business helping others find frames that make them feel seen.
“We really want to be the go-to store for all things that are eyewear,” Shin said, “and continue celebrating diversity through our products.”
Covry was one of the first brands to make diversity a priority in the eyewear industry, Shin said. Alongside a comfortable fit, style is also important to Shin, who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with concentrations in fashion merchandising and international trade and marketing.
“We didn’t intend to start a business,” Shin said, “I think it was just good timing; where we felt we really had the tools to do it because we were working in the industry.”
As women in their early twenties, Shin and her co-founder were questioned about their credibility and experience. When Shin began pitching her Elevated Fit® glasses to retailers, many did not understand the importance of a large market for inclusively designed eyewear. Despite being questioned by retailers on the viability of an eyewear product designed for a specific demographic, Shin knew firsthand the benefits of inclusive design.
“When we started, there weren’t many companies offering a different fit or a niche category,” she explained. “Now, I’ve seen a lot more, and I think that’s great. The more specialized you can get, the better. It’s about being inclusive and celebrating the things that make us so unique.
Shin has felt most rewarded as a business owner watching customers try on Covry frames for the first time.
“For us, sometimes we were just designing eyewear. But in the grand scheme of things, I think our customers feel more seen when they try our products on because they’re part of the design process.”
Along with providing members of the AAPI community with thoughtfully designed frames, the founders of Covry make it their personal and professional mission to empower, celebrate and uplift diverse communities.
During Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Covry partnered with Act to Change, a non-profit dedicated to ending bullying among AAPI youth. The collaboration included a hat adorned with the words “We Belong Here.”
During the pandemic, hate crimes against Asian and Pacific Islanders skyrocketed, and 100% of proceeds from the limited-edition hat went towards Act to Change’s initiatives.
“We’re excited about helping to empower and support our community during this time,” Shin said.
Covry has helped thousands of people who felt left out of major retailers’ design processes feel prioritized, proving that an inclusive design can be a successful business model.
Photographs: Courtesy of Covry