Hanging with Tortoise & Blonde

Online eyewear brand pops up for Swim Week



Sarah Arison with a new friend
Photos by Manny Hernandez
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim 2012 brought buyers, wholesalers and media from around the world for a sexy week of swimwear shows and parties. Joining the fun was Tortoise & Blonde. The hip eyewear line with an internet-based strategy created a lot of buzz this week and SocialMiami’s Aaron Glickman, Sarah Arison and Manny Hernandez caught up with the brand's CEO, Dr. Steven Weisfeld, and a couple of live tortoises to learn why this new line is destined to become all the rage.

What differentiates Tortoise & Blonde eyewear from other eyewear?

Tortoise & Blonde is an eyewear collection that offers the customer an "affordable luxury." Our quality is unsurpassed and our styles are cool, edgy and for today, yet easily wearable for most age groups. Our collection has been inspired from many years of selling high fashion eyewear as a practicing Optometrist. We are using the same quality plastics and hardware as many of todays most popular manufactures and designers.

I have a clear understanding what the customer wants from a fashion, fitting and salability standpoint. Our turn around time is exemplary as we can process your order and ship it out usually within 24-72 hours. At Tortoise & Blonde, all of our prescriptions are fabricated under the same standards as I have used in my practice for 30 years. Quality is never comprised, and unlike other companies we have full control of the lab as all orders are made in the US.

What did you hope to accomplish in Miami Beach for Swim Week and how did it go?

We set out to create brand awareness down here through the media, the bloggers, and the influencers and tastemakers of South Beach. That was accomplished as the buzz was created with interviews, both in person and on TV, as well as our Tortoise & Blonde sightings on the beach, which was certainly an attention getter when Sarah Arison appeared with her new bff, a giant 80 pound African tortoise. Those passing just couldn't take their eyes off of the "Tortoise and the Blonde"!

In general, or specifically, tell us about some of the interesting Miamians that you met down here?

It was wonderful to meet some of Miami's blogging and social media stars. We received mentions in many of the blogs and tweets that were flowing during fashion week.


How does the work dynamic play out with your son?

It's a wonderful relationship. We try very hard NOT to let the reality we are father/son get in the way of business. We both bring a separate and unique dynamic to the mix. Evan brings his youth, internet and social media experience, the demographic we are seeking, and he speaks the language of a tastemaker. By combining his skill set with my 30 years of optical and business experience, I couldn't be happier with Evan's decision to leave finance and embark on this new and wonderful opportunity.


Tell us how efficient it is to shop for eyewear online and the technology used to see yourself in the glasses before you make the purchase?

The online shopping experience with Tortoise & Blonde will be a pleasant one. Our new website will let the user to browse our collections, both in clear and in sun, and then virtually see how they look in any of our styles/colors. As for the efficiency, the user undergoes a smooth transition from his/her decision on style and color to lens selection and onward to data capture and purchase. Our virtual try on, which is fairly new in the industry and just catching on, lets our customer actually see themselves in the frame they are choosing. It's very much like a mirror! We are trying to bring the in-store experience people want to the comfort of their home or office. And with the $97 price point and 30 day no questions asked full refund policy that we offer, there is not a lot of risk. Our price allows the customer to purchase multiple pair and create an eyeglass wardrobe similar to that of shoes, sneakers or pocketbooks. One today, Another tomorrow!


What are your next steps to make Tortoise & Blonde a household name?

Our goal is to make Tortoise & Blonde more popular and recognizable by continuing our blogger and social media outreach, as well as to develop additional pop-up shops around the country at various venues. Our growth will be aided by continuing to see the right influencers and tastemakers wearing and talking about their T&B's. These strategies as well as the many surprises currently being developed, will help perpetuate the brand in many new directions.