Bryan and Bradford Manning recently gave an interview to the Associated Press. The brothers told the story of their vision loss as a result of a rare degenerative eye disease. They also described how they founded their successful clothing company as a result of a coincidence.
Not surprisingly, their clothing company is called Two Blind Brothers.
Loss of Sight at an Early Age
Brad, who is now 35, was diagnosed with Stargardt disease at age seven. The doctor dismissed him, telling his mother to just get a magnifying glass and have him learn Braille.
His thirty-year-old brother Bryan was subsequently diagnosed with the disorder also at an early age. Although their condition has slowed somewhat, they now only have peripheral vision.
Novel ideas do not always come with instructions on ‘how-to’. This idea occurred during a shopping trip.
The seed had been planted about five years ago when they saw that a new gene therapy for a juvenile eye disease was about to be launched. The therapy was unrelated to their own disease, but they noticed that the researcher was underfunded.
Things came together when the brothers were temporarily separated during a shopping trip. When they reunited, they found that both of them had purchased identical shirts.
The idea just flowed into place. They had both purchased the shirts because they felt the comfort and softness of the material.
That segued into the idea of making similar clothing and turning over the profits to researchers who are working on a cure for rare eye diseases.
Bryan had been selling software, and Brad left his job at an investment firm.
They enthusiastically started their new clothing company, Two Blind Brothers, in 2016 with input from friends in the fashion industry. To date, they have donated over $700,000 towards research designed to cure blindness.
Brian and Brad donate their profits to the Foundation Fighting Blindness and other groups researching retinal eye disorders, such as Stargardt disease.
Success and Celebrities
The business attracts not only relatives and parents with children who have vision impairment but supporters such as Ice-T, Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur, and Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen helped out by sending a Shutterfly check for $30,000.
Some followers posted their support for the company on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Other posts showed people opening the boxes wearing blindfolds.
The boxes, selling for $30 up to $200, have become social media celebrities themselves.
Selling Mystery Boxes
The brothers have had great success selling their mystery boxes containing assorted extra soft shirts, soft comfy socks, knit beanies, and sunglasses.
The Blind Brother’s line of clothing for adults and children includes casuals such as hoodies, T-shirts, polos, and Henleys, all super soft and comfortable. The material in their clothing is a composite of bamboo mixed with spandex and cotton.
When the company was formed, the clothing was mostly manufactured by visually impaired people in Texas. With continued expansion, the bulk of the business was moved to Los Angeles.
About Their Website
Their website: Twoblindbrothers.com features garments that have incorporated Braille into the design indicting the color of the clothing.
Just a quick run-through of the comments posted online tells the story of products that deliver over and above their commitment to their customers.
The Brothers’ ad reads: “The softest shirts you’ll ever feel. Try one for yourself. All profits donated to life-changing research to cure blindness.”
Brad and Bryan include their personal story in each mystery box that they sell along with their special thank you.