Yanie Eyewear is a trailblazing eyeglass company on a mission to transform the lives of individuals with severe dry eye disease. Founded by Tatyana Langford, a visionary entrepreneur who personally battled the challenges of severe dry eye for years, Yanie Eyewear was born out of her unwavering determination to find a solution that could provide constant protection from wind and offer all-day treatment and relief from the distressing symptoms.
Yanie Eyewear stands apart from conventional eyeglass companies due to its unwavering commitment to innovation and tailored solutions. The frames are carefully engineered to shield the eyes from harsh winds and environmental irritants, providing a constant barrier of protection. The lenses incorporate cutting-edge technology to deliver all-day treatment, ensuring optimal moisture retention and relief from dry eye symptoms.
Beyond its focus on functionality, Yanie Eyewear is deeply rooted in a culture of fashion. The company understands that dry eye disease can take a toll not only on physical well-being but also on emotional and mental health. As such, Yanie Eyewear endeavors to provide a range of eyeglass frames and styles as a source of empowerment and renewed confidence to those who wear their eyeglasses. Yanie Eyewear continues to push the boundaries of innovation, seeking new ways to improve and expand its product line to cater to various dry eye needs.
Follow Yanie Eyewear on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Inspiration to start Yanie Eyewear
- Unique features and technologies incorporated into eyeglasses that make them particularly effective for managing this condition
- Can Yanie Eyewear be worn by people that don’t have severe dry eye disease
- Their long-term goals and aspirations for Yanie Eyewear
- Are there plans to expand into new industries and international markets
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. This is part of our GSU radio series where we spotlight some of the great work that’s being done there at the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute. On today’s show, we have one of the people involved with the Main Street Entrepreneurship Seed Fund. It is Tatyana Langford with Yanni Eyewear. Welcome.
Tatyana Langford: Hi, Lee. Thanks for having me.
Lee Kantor: I am so excited to learn what you’re up to. For the people who don’t know, can you share a little bit about Yanni eyewear? How you serving folks?
Tatyana Langford: Sure. Well, Yanni Eyewear. It’s basically a eyeglass company and we specialize in creating cool and innovative styles for people with severe dry eye disease or chronic eye dryness.
Lee Kantor: So what was the inspiration for the company? How’d you get involved in this line of work?
Tatyana Langford: Well, I myself was diagnosed with severe dry eye disease back in 2020, and I just had a really hard time adjusting to everyday life with it because I had a hard time finding products that would provide me with long lasting relief and protect my eyes from harmful things that was agitating them. So since I couldn’t find anything, I just started experimenting and I realized that I created some at home remedies that was really working for myself. So I thought I should help others as well in my community.
Lee Kantor: Now, at the beginning, when you had this idea solve this problem for myself, did you so you started experimenting with different solutions in and around the glasses or the eye drops? Like in what areas were you trying to find a solution?
Tatyana Langford: Pretty much anything and everything. Like my entire way of life, I was just like experimenting on random things that would work on my eyes and eyeglasses was like one of the last things I experimented on. Honestly, I was pretty much at first experimenting on like my diet, the way I washed my face, my routines and things like that.
Lee Kantor: So then when you came up with some products, did you test them on other people that had it as well? Or this was you were using yourself as kind of the guinea pig for this?
Tatyana Langford: Yeah. So far I’ve been using myself as a guinea pig, but I have been talking to other people in the dry community and telling them about the features on the eye glasses, and they sound like it would really help them as well, and they’re eager for it.
Lee Kantor: So now is this something that through the Main Street fund that you’re going to be able to invest in doing that research and testing on other people?
Tatyana Langford: Definitely. I’m really glad about the main fund because it’s going to at first I’ve been bootstrapping, so now I’m going to get some much needed funding so I can actually start getting some products out there and be able to have other people try it on as well.
Lee Kantor: Right? Because that’s one of the things because this is I guess I would think it’s considered as a medical device.
Tatyana Langford: Yes. Medtech.
Lee Kantor: Right. So then you have to there’s a lot of rules. Like you can’t just, you know, set up a booth somewhere and start asking people to try things, right?
Tatyana Langford: No, we can’t. That’s really been a barrier. We’ve been figuring out how we can test it out without just using the same pair of glasses over and over again.
Lee Kantor: So now how many people have this severe dry eye disease? Is it something that’s more common than maybe people realize?
Tatyana Langford: Yes. At first when I was going to my doctors, they were telling me that I have this rare disease. That’s how they say it, like it’s a rare disease. And then they say it’s called severe dry eye disease. So in my head, I’m thinking it’s like a very small amount of people. And then when I started doing research, there is millions of people in America alone, roughly around 35 million people currently have severe dry eye disease and other related eye illnesses. And in the statistics are increasing by the day because technology is constantly harming our eyes.
Lee Kantor: Oh, that’s probably something that people don’t realize because they’re on their phone and they’re watching a screen so close to their face. It’s probably doing damage over time, right?
Tatyana Langford: It definitely is. In the past, it was really middle aged people or older elderly that was being diagnosed with severe dry eye disease. And now today, we’re seeing an increase in people that are 30 and younger being diagnosed with it because of technology.
Lee Kantor: Wow. So what has been kind of the funnest part for you to come up with this idea that’s obviously helpful to yourself, but also now you’re going to be able to come up with solutions that could impact lots of people.
Tatyana Langford: Well, the funnest part for me, honestly, has been the experimenting. I’ve always loved like I’m a little bit of a science nerd, so I really like experimenting with things and I love seeing a positive solution or result when I experiment. And also I just really enjoy receiving that relief because having dry eye is pretty painful to the eye. So when I do find experiment with something and realize something works and I get to have some relief, that’s a really good feeling.
Lee Kantor: So now on some of the things you’ve experimented with, you’ve really gained a lot of relief for yourself.
Tatyana Langford: Yes.
Lee Kantor: So noticeable relief.
Tatyana Langford: Yes, noticeable relief.
Lee Kantor: So when that happened, were you like, wow, this is I mean, you must have been so happy.
Tatyana Langford: Honestly? Yes. Um, yeah, It’s really a, um, a good feeling when you do find a positive result. And usually I kind of go to my dry community and always let them know, like, Hey, guys, I just found something else. It’s like an at home remedy. It doesn’t cost anything. And to try it out.
Lee Kantor: Now, what inspired you to even find out about the Main Street Fund? Like, how did you get how how did you get in the loop of that?
Tatyana Langford: Um, well, me. I go to Georgia State University and I my major is entrepreneurship. So last semester for spring, I was taking an amazing professor. I think her name is Professor Baila. Baila. And she was telling us about the make fund. And I was telling her about my company, Yani Eyewear. And she was like, It sounds amazing. Like, you definitely need to, um. Apply for this for this program. And I was thinking about applying because I was already in a previous program, but every time she saw me, she was like, Apply for this, apply for this, apply for this. So I was like, okay, I’m going to apply for this and I’m so glad I did.
Lee Kantor: Now, was it difficult to kind of go through where you have something in your head and then you have solutions that, you know, work for yourself at least and then try to explain that and pitch that to other people? Was that a hard thing to do or was that just, you know, you were good at kind of the salesmanship of that?
Tatyana Langford: Um, yes, it’s honestly, it was a little difficult at first because, again, a lot of people don’t really know about this medical illness, so I kind of have to walk through it and tell people what it is at first and how it affects people. And then I bring it around into how my product will help for it. So now I’ve got the hang of it. But yeah, at first it was a bit difficult.
Lee Kantor: So now you, you got because um, pitching your, your product or service or business is different than having a product and service business, right? Like it’s a little different skill. So are you comfortable, do you have a team? Are you in the process of building a team of people or is it just you?
Tatyana Langford: Right now it is just me right now. And yes, I am seeking other people, other co-founders.
Lee Kantor: So because. Because. Right. You need things like a website. You need to do the research. There’s a whole lot of elements to this because these kind of medtech businesses, there’s a lot of moving parts, you know, compared to somebody who has like a t shirt business.
Tatyana Langford: Yeah.
Tatyana Langford: Well, I do have a website. Um, but yes, we are seeking other to deep diver into the researching.
Lee Kantor: So now what has kind of been the biggest kind of takeaway from going through the Main Street program? What, what have you gained kind of the most aha moment where you’re like, okay, now I know I got to do this, I got to get this right or this thing may not work.
Tatyana Langford: Um. I’ve had a lot of aha moments at the Mercy Fund. They’ve helped me a lot. Honestly, before I was doing pretty good, but they helped me realize that I was. I was making a lot of common errors that, um, a lot of first time entrepreneurs make. Like, I didn’t have the paperwork that I really needed and they helped me get that situated. I’ve been bootstrapping and they’ve helped me a lot with funding, so now I can like focus on really expanding and improving my business. Um, they’ve also provided me with a lot of mentors. I myself have three mentors thanks to the program, so I get to ask each of them a question and get different forms of feedback on it, which has really helped significantly. Um, yeah. And then also we have weekly workshops as well, and most of them are like about different topics like marketing or customer discovery. I really enjoyed the customer discovery workshops because it helped me like hone in on the questions that I should be asking to get the best results. So I think that one was my biggest aha moment because I was already doing a lot of customer discovery in my community. But the instructor for that particular workshop let me know like, these are great questions, but you can improve them by asking this instead and doing this and watching their body language as well.
Lee Kantor: Now what what is kind of some of the big milestones and achievements you’ve reached so far?
Tatyana Langford: Um, I would say one of the biggest achievements I’ve reached so far was my website. I really wanted a place that people could visit, whether they was in the community or not, and just learn more about my product and my company and what we’re about. So now that I have that, I’m really happy about that. Also, just being accepted into this program. It was a really high competitive program, honestly. So being inside of it just helps me realize that yes, I do have a really good company. Other people also see the potential in it as well. Um, and also my prototype. I am getting a prototype currently made and it should be ready by demo day, so I’m really happy about that as well.
Lee Kantor: So what do you need more of? How can we help you?
Tatyana Langford: Um, just spread more awareness about, um, severe dry eye disease. I think because technology is definitely not going anywhere, it’s just going to increase in our everyday lives that people should be aware that these screens are definitely harm your eyes and that you should protect them. So spreading the word about severe dry eye disease and about how Yani eyewear is. We specialize and we are we really want to protect honestly your eyes. So just spreading the word about Yanni eyewear and what we stand for.
Lee Kantor: So if somebody wants to learn more about Yanni eyewear, where do they go?
Tatyana Langford: They can go to our website or they can go to our LinkedIn account.
Lee Kantor: And what’s the website? What’s the URL? Yani eyewear.com and that’s why a n i.
Tatyana Langford: Yes, that’s how.
Lee Kantor: Right. That’s how you spell Yanni.
Tatyana Langford: Yes, y a n i e e y e w e a r.com.
Lee Kantor: Well, Tatiana, congratulations on all the success thus far. It’s exciting times for you and your company, and it seems like there’s a lot of potential ahead of you. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Tatyana Langford: Thank you so much for having me.
Lee Kantor: All right. This Lee Kantor. We’ll see y’all next time on GSU radio.
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