May 30, 2023

What if “readers” weren’t a slightly depressing necessity, but instead were beautiful, high-quality and flattering accessories? Thanks to Gillian Chao, founder of Flutter Eyewear, we can feel attractive and stylish with reading glasses made with beauty and quality. We are thrilled to share Gillian’s story about her inspiration in launching Flutter Eyewear, her joy in delighting her customers and her commitment to supporting a non-profit that trains companion dogs for people with sensory disabilities.

Gillian Chao, founder of Flutter Eyewear

Like many of the amazing women-owned businesses on WMarketplace, Flutter Eyewear was born when there was an opportunity to fill a niche with something needed by so many women. 


How did you hear about The WMarketplace?

I met Melissa at Alt Summit! (Editor’s Note: We love meeting women entrepreneurs at events like Alt Summit!)



Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?

Like many of the amazing women-owned businesses on WMarketplace, Flutter Eyewear was born when there was an opportunity to fill a niche with something needed by so many women. When it was finally time to get reading glasses, it was so difficult to find any that were beautiful and stylish, as well as high-quality. So there was a selfish aspect of starting Flutter, to find gorgeous glasses for myself, but it's been so rewarding to share them with all the fun and sophisticated women I've met along the way!

Flutter Eyewear Banner

Why did you decide to join The WMarketplace?

I loved the idea of a larger marketplace that was just for women-owned businesses. I wanted to find a potential new market for Flutter, but was also attracted to joining a community of women making their way with their small businesses too.



What has been the most challenging thing about getting your business up and running?

Getting BOMBARDED with marketing emails from companies trying to improve my business. And these are just the emails that make it through the spam filter! It's so hard to know who can actually help, especially when I don't have much funding lying around yet to invest.



What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of owning your own business?

The main way Flutter currently gains new customers is through in-person trunk shows at benefit boutiques, women's conferences, and holiday markets. I do admit to getting a little excited, tickle inside when I see customers' reactions to hearing that the beautiful glasses they see are my own brand. Besides the beauty, style, and quality of the glasses, another thing that sets Flutter apart is the personal styling session that I do for my customers, finding the style and color that best complements their faces. It's so rewarding to me when I pick a pair for someone and they just light up when they see themselves in the mirror and fall absolutely in love with their new look.

I loved the idea of a larger marketplace that was just for women-owned businesses. I wanted to find a potential new market for Flutter, but was also attracted to joining a community of women making their way with their small businesses too.

Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?

I have been lucky to have strong women to look up to in my life. My mother, Jessica Shyu, has taught me about hard work, being independent, grit, and determination. My friend and mentor, Patti Lee-Hoffmann, has led by can-do entrepreneurial example and paved the way for me with Flutter Eyewear, and she does it all with style, sophistication, and grace.



Is there a non-profit or other social/mission-oriented business that your business supports? Can you tell us about this?

A portion of every glasses purchase goes to Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that trains dogs to be companions for people with disabilities, particularly those with impaired senses, and help them fully participate and navigate the world in which we live. You could say that each purchase of a pair of Flutter readers helps two people see better.




Thank you, Gillian, for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!

SHOP fLUTTER EYEWEAR



Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit TheWMarketplace provides to sellers.

Her Story: Gillian Chao of Flutter Eyewear