Bryan and Bradford Manning are designing a new business model to cure blindness, and it comes in the form of designer clothing. Their brand, Two Blind Brothers, is on a mission to donate one million dollars to life-changing research one t-shirt at a time. With each article of clothing sold, they are closer to finding a cure for blind children and adults around the world, and in the meantime, they are giving us something that feels as good as it looks.
Meet Bryan and Bradford Manning
Bryan and Bradford Manning, the co-founders of Two Blind Brothers, were diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease when they were kids. While their visual acuity is about 20/400 in each eye, they retain their peripheral vision. However, some retinal diseases take most or all of an individual’s ability to see. With over 10 million cases of blindness-causing retinal diseases around the globe (30,000 of which are caused by Stargardt’s disease), the brothers did not want to wait any longer to take action. All proceeds raised by their t-shirts and long sleeve shirts will be donated to medical research geared toward finding a cure for Stargardt’s and other retinal diseases such as leber congenital amaurosis, retinitis pigmentosa, and Usher’s Syndrome.
Curing Blindness Through the Softest Clothing Ever Made
“We’ve taken all of our network, our experts in design, in production, in fabric, to create what we think is the perfect shirt,” Bradford said on their website’s introduction video. And with those shirts, made of a high-quality tri-blend fabric—premium bamboo (66 percent), cotton (28 percent), and spandex (six percent)—the brothers are making incredible headway. Based in a factory in New York City’s Soho garment district, Bradford, Bryan, and their innovative team are working to reach their immediate goal of one million dollars raised by selling “the softest clothing ever made.”
The Goal Is in Sight
This one million dollar goal is in sight. Instead of receiving salaries, the brothers donate 100 percent of profits to research, and just this January, they received a substantial donation. Ellen DeGeneres donated $30,000 to Two Blind Brother’s research after featuring them on her show.
Bryan and Bradford are convinced that the technology is finally available. The gene causing Stargardt’s has been identified, and there has been successful gene therapy for leber congenital amaurosis. Now, we’re just waiting on the financial backing to push that science into reality by providing researchers and research foundations with the backing they need to fuel further clinical trials, develop gene and stem cell therapies, and eventually develop the process by which these diseases can be prevented or cured.
The brothers have identified resources such as the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) and the PBM Capital Group to assist them in their collection and allocation of funds to the necessary research projects. FFB, where Bradford also sits on the Board, has named three distinct researchers with The Harrington Project to carry out these clinical trials and move toward breakthroughs and commercialization opportunities.
Opportunities to Grow the Company
As the company is still under a year old, the team is small and concentrated. They are, however, hoping to incorporate an internship program for individuals who want to get involved in this innovative push toward a cure. College applicants across a wide array of disciplines—marketing, fashion production, fashion design, business and finance, philanthropy, communications, sales, and public relations—are invited to join. Above all, they must be passionate and dedicated to this cause.
“Growing up as a kid with visual impairment is very hard,” Bryan said in a video on the company’s website. “I had a big brother who could act as an idol or could act as a friend; 11 million people growing up across the country do not have that luxury, so more important than just fashion, it’s a community and it’s a place of hope.”
Bryan explained that not succeeding in this initial goal of donating one million dollars to research would be like failing those 11 million people. And, they are not about to allow that.
Individuals interested in applying for the internship program can contact Janice Wilson at email@example.com.