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On June 14, Avoce will launch a Web site featuring affordable women’s eyewear in bright, fun colors and feminine designs.
“When you go to an optical store, the person behind the counter is going to steer you to certain frames,” said Raphael DeSouza, who launched the company with Manu Singhal. “With our online store, you select the frames you like from a style perspective.” Hence, the name Avoce, which means “You” in Portugese. The designs and colors reflect the style and architecture of DeSouza’s native Brazil.
Nonprescription sunglasses with UV protection and antiscratch coating are $99, with antireflective coatings included at no extra charge. Prescription sunglasses with polarized lenses are $169. All orders include free shipping and free 30-day returns.
Avoce wants to break down the cost barrier to eyewear, which can cost $400 or $500, or even more, DeSouza said. “Some women would like to use eyewear as a fashion accessory,” he said. “It’s a great way to enhance your style, but its really expensive to use as an accessory.”
In terms of consumers, Avoce (pronounced Ah-vo-say) is targeting younger women from their 20s to mid-30s who are fashion-conscious and aware of trends. “They have an appetite for accessories,” Singhal said. “A big reason why people don’t have prescription sunglasses is because they’re so expensive.”
The Home Style and Trial program allows customers to try the glasses on in their own homes. Customers can order up to four pairs of nonprescription glasses with free shipping in both directions. The company has a 30-day return and exchange policy.
While Singhal and DeSouza admit their business model is similar to other online eyewear shops such as Warby Parker, where glasses start at $95 and a home try-on program allows consumers to test-drive five pairs of glasses for five days, Singhal said Avoce’s difference is the product design.
“We wanted to make something modern, streamlined, more feminine,” Singhal said. “There aren’t enough designs that play to women’s features. We focus a lot on color. Cool colors and patterns is where we think we can bring some excitement into this space. We offer the colors that can really pull an outfit together.”
Singhal and DeSouza, who met during an M.B.A. summer internship in Thailand, decided they wanted to start a business together. In 2011, they hit upon the idea for Avoce.
The inaugural Início line features 19 colors, including Black Crystal and Candy Apple, patterns such as Pink Quartz and Espresso Tortoise and Luciana in Kaleidoscope.