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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Sep 4, 2019

At a young age, brothers Bradford and Bryan Manning were diagnosed with an eye disease that causes blindness over time. They’ve used their circumstances to help work toward a cure for blindness through the sales of their ultra-soft designer clothing line. Their vigilance for details carries over into the quality of their products, and you’ll love hearing the coincidental story of how the idea for their brand came about. Join me as I learn more about the inspiring Bradford and Bryan Manning.

3:08 - The Brad and Bryan 101

  • Brad and Bryan were diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease when they were each seven years old. Stargardt’s is a genetic disease that typically destroys center vision. 
  • The idea for the Two Blind Brothers business started to form after Brad and Bryan shopped in the same store now knowing until after they’d left that they’d purchased the same shirt based on how it felt to the touch.
  • Touch is a sense that’s critical to those with vision impairments. Brad and Bryan started talking about focusing on the sense of touch to develop their  clothing brand.
  • One hundred percent of the proceeds from Two Blind Brothers is donated to organizations that fight diseases like Stargardt’s and other forms of vision impairment.

7:55 - It’s A Community 

  • The goal was never a successful business, but a pure passion to help the community and raise funds for research.
  • The brand was driven by people who wanted to support the cause, rather than just shop for an item of clothing.
  • After learning that man with a retinal eye disease who’d never met another person with an eye disease found an online community through Two Blind Brothers, a huge paradigm shift occurred in the business. It became about fostering hope for the community that the brothers deeply care about.

15:42 - Shop Blind Holiday

  • Brad and Bryan created a video on social media about how those who are vision-impaired rely on trust to get around in the world.
  • During the holiday season, Two Blind Brothers then ran a campaign called “Shop Blind”, and pulled all the images from their website and products and added the question “Will You Shop Blind?”
  • The Shop Blind experiment gave customers an option to pick from different price points, but they were not able to see what was being selected for them.
  • Not only did the Shop Blind experiment raise money for retinal research, it also raised awareness to the experience of those who face obstacles due to vision impairment.
  • Building trust builds your ability to connect and be social. When you can’t see, you automatically put yourself out there to become closer to others much faster.

38:41 - Getting To Know Our Guests

  • You’ll think Brad and Bryan are even more impressive as you hear what they’d pick as their pump-up songs, the things no one would ever guess about them, and more. Of course, stay tuned to hear what it means to Brad and Bryan to run a business with purpose.   

Memorable Moments

  • “We started with the full intention that this would empower folks who have a vision impairment or relate to facing challenges and making a social impact.”
  • “Everyone in the world has their issue. It doesn’t make you better.”
  • “There really is no growth without friction. You’re never going to really unlock your potential, creativity, assertiveness, resourcefulness unless you’re put in a position to challenge those things.”

Meet Your Guests, Co-Founders, Two Blind Brothers

Bradford and Bryan Manning are curing blindness! At a young age, both brothers were affected with Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeneration that destroys central vision over time.  To fight back, they left their former careers in finance to start Two Blind Brothers. Within 1 year, they propelled the small charitable clothing company into one of the fastest growing brands in the country with endorsements from Ellen DeGeneres, Ashton Kutcher, Richard Branson, NBC Nightly News, and many others.

Their luxury clothing project is focused on quality, comfort, and "sense of touch". The clothing is produced by a team of blind and visually-impaired workers in Dallas, Texas. Two Blind Brothers donates 100% of its profits to researchers and the Foundation Fighting Blindness to find cures for blindness. The funds from Two Blind Brothers are driving life-changing treatments that are already being used in patients such as “Voretigene Neparvovec”, a gene therapy developed by Spark Therapeutics.

The brothers are evangelists for charitable and social enterprises. They were recently nominated to the Facebook Small Business Council for their use of social media to empower others and consult on branding, story-telling, corporate responsibility, and sustainable fashion. The brothers have also participated in various public speaking engagements, most notably two TEDx talks since founding the company.

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, both brothers graduated from the University of Virginia. Bradford received a degree in finance and Bryan a degree in statistics. Prior to launching Two Blind Brothers in 2016, Bradford worked in investment management and Bryan worked in data sales. They currently live together in New York City.