Jillian Urcelay: What was your inspiration behind founding Mohala Eyewear, and what does your brand offer its wearers?
Ashley Mariko Meilan Johnson: I’m Ashley, I founded Mohala Eyewear as most U.S. eyewear is designed for a narrow, Eurocentric face, leaving millions of women used to wearing glasses that are too tight, too narrow, slide down the face, hit cheeks or touch lashes.
Mohala Eyewear is an inclusive eyewear brand that offers three unique nose bridge fits, various widths and adjustable frames made with your face in mind. These custom glasses won’t slide, fall off, indent cheeks or touch lashes. Each pair sold sends a girl to school through our partnership with Room to Read. Mohala Eyewear has donated over 170 years of school and counting.
This May, nine female-founded/co-founded companies, including Mohala, partnered to offer a Summer Essentials AAPI box celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month. Why was it important for you to collaborate with these other companies and what was the goal of this initiative?
We wanted to celebrate and show solidarity across the community of AAPI founders. We know that as a group we can make a larger impact and really work toward changing culture to be more inclusive and have more representation in business and media. The AAPI collaboration was inspired by Michelle Yeoh winning Best Actress at the Oscars, making her the first Asian performer to win a lead-actress Oscar in the awards show’s 95-year history. One hundred percent of the profits from every box sold are being donated to AAPI Women Lead, a movement that aims to strengthen the progressive political and social platforms of Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. through the leadership of AAPI women, girls and gender-expansive communities.
As you mentioned, Mohala also partners with Room to Read, a girls’ education program. Can you share with our readers Mohala’s mission to support this nonprofit?
We exist to empower women. We are empowering them through creating inclusive product for women who have been left out of product design for hundreds of years. And we exist to empower girls through education. I wanted each pair to have a special power, and so every pair sold sends a girl to school at Room to Read. We have donated over 167-plus years of school to Room to Read. When a girl is educated she is more likely to create a smaller and healthier family, earn a higher wage, educate her own children, avoid childhood marriage and sex trafficking, and poverty goes down, economies grow stronger and the world gets better. If Mohala sunglasses can make you feel comfortable and confident on the outside, and amazing on the inside for empowering girls, then our goal is accomplished.