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Nothing Ordinary

AMERICA'S FINEST (1ST PLACE): At Rochester’s ‘House of Hip’ a variety of creative customers have all of their individual and unique personal style needs met by the chicest of them all.

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America’s Finest 2020 Sponsors

1ST Place: One Hip Chic Optical, ROCHESTER, NY

OWNER: Tamra Asmuth | URL: onehipchic.com | YEAR FOUNDED: 1997 | YEAR OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2017 | AREA: 1,400 sq. ft. | EMPLOYEES: 1 full-time, 1 part-time | FACEBOOK: facebook.com/OneHipChic | INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/onehipchicoptical | TOP BRANDS: theo, Anne et Valentin, Sabine.be, NaoNed, Blake Kuwahara | BUILD OUT COST: $40,000 | ARCHITECT AND DESIGN FIRMS: Tamra Asmuth, Adam Kujawski (showroom floor) Adam and Cecily Culver (floral floor mural), Robin Muto Interiors (lighting)


YOU DON’T HAVE just one pair of shoes; why have only one pair of glasses?” It is a sentiment we in the optical world are familiar with in one variation or another. For Tamra Asmuth, owner of One Hip Chic in Rochester, NY, it’s the entire basis of her business model.

She opened One Hip Chic Optical in August 1997 with the goal of showing eyewear not found anywhere else in her hometown of Rochester. After 20 years in a rented loft space downtown, she expanded the One Hip Chic brand. In 2017, she moved One Hip Chic Optical to a 1930s house in Brighton, an upscale suburban area, renovated it and opened a shoe store — Sole by One Hip Chic — in the same location. “Many of my customers were driving in from Brighton and other suburbs on the east side of Rochester so I decided to make it easier for them by transplanting myself into their neighborhood,” she says. Sometimes referred to as “The House of Hip,” the front door welcomes you into One Hip Chic while a side entrance brings visitors upstairs to Sole. A hand-painted floral interior pass way leads customers from the optical shop to the shoe store.

One Hip Chic Optical floor

“My motto in life extends to my business — ‘Nothing ordinary’. [So] I designed the interior myself and enlisted local artists and craftsman for the details,” she explains. The floor is plywood cut in a mosaic pattern made and hand-painted by Asmuth’s artist-son, Adam. Custom wallpaper creates a feeling of expansiveness, while an inviting pink couch, cushy pod chairs and stools made in Sweden offer plenty of seating. A one-of-a-kind stainless steel desk provides ample room for order taking and a sleek — “and very heavy” — glass desk is used for dispensing. Frames are merchandised by brand in paper-lined drawers based on Asmuth’s own design. “Each brand I sell has its own incomparable take on eyewear, thus I merchandise by maker. I think it helps to tell the ‘story’ of the brand by seeing the product as a group.”

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It’s a fitting setting for the types of customers One Hip Chic attracts. “​Creators of every kind choose One Hip Chic for their eyewear needs including painters, sculptors, musicians and authors. I find that artists — and art lovers — appreciate a different take on eyewear. They’re not afraid to show their individuality.”

One Hip Chic Optical Jewish Ledger Ad

‘In my opinion, marketing is an art form,’ says One Hip Chic owner Tamra Asmuth.

Though she has never taken insurance, had a doctor on premise or sold contact lenses, and treats her optical as a retail store, Asmuth does enjoy the sense of welcoming her customers into a home. And in homes, there are families. One Hip Chic is no different. Asmuth’s staff are her adult children. “My youngest son, Noah, works side by side with me most days. In addition to assisting me at One Hip Chic, he is the primary employee at Sole by One Hip Chic. He’s my right arm,” she says. “My oldest son, Adam, works part time. From the photography on my websites, to my ads, the outdoor signs to the consumer packaging, he is a key player in all things creative.”

Daughter Rachel helps out on special events like trunk shows and the annual sale. “What’s wonderful about having my children as employees is that they perfectly exemplify my brand and my business philosophy.”

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They also come in handy when it comes to marketing. “In my opinion, marketing is an art form. For me, it’s important that my motto of ‘Nothing Ordinary’ is extended to all marketing products,” explains Asmuth. One Hip Chic advertises in local publications, on art-house screens and social media. Custom boxes and cleaning cloths are given to customers when they pick up their glasses. Postcards for trunk shows and the annual sale are mini works of art. And it’s all done in brainstorming sessions with the help and creativity of her children.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

Paul Storace: Word of mouth seems to be her marketing advantage. This is a very specific shop for very specific people.

Jan Ennis: Eyewear, shoes and handbags… This store takes the cake for eclectic!

Lance Anderson, OD: One word….Cool! Very creative and artistic vibe here. Love the shoe business next door to the optical which creates a great cross marketing opportunity. This is a one-of-a-kind business that found its niche in the Rochester community. The owner has stayed true to the brand she created and it has and will continue to drive great success.

PHOTO GALLERY (12 IMAGES)

Podcast Interview with One Hip Chic Optical

Five Cool Things About One Hip Chic Optical

1.COLOR STORY. For more than a decade, Asmuth has been interested in color analysis — determining the colors that harmonize with a person’s complexion, eye color and hair color. She has over 20 scarves in her shop that help demonstrate the importance of wearing the right color to customers.

2. BIG HEARTED. “A month or so ago, I made a quick stop at my local dollar store for tissue paper. A lovely young woman with a big smile, black plastic frames and thick lenses with no anti-reflective coating helped me. Her left temple was wrapped in white first aid tape. She complimented me on my ‘funky’ glasses and commented on her own broken pair and how expensive new ones would be… So, I offered her a new pair of glasses at no charge. She reacted as if she’d won the lottery! I fit her with a brilliant red frame and 1.74 lenses with AR coating. If I see someone in need, I want to help.”

3. ART THERAPY. “My shop, my family and I are firmly planted in the art community of Rochester,” she notes. “I show my support of the arts through advertising, charitable donations, attendance at art events and displaying local artist’s work. I even have a local art therapist who uses my customer’s old lenses and frame parts for her work. Isn’t that great?”

4. BUYING MULTIPLES. Recently, a customer from One Hip Chic came in to have a screw replaced in her frame. She wandered upstairs to Sole and purchased three pairs of shoes and three new handbags!

5. IN MEMORIAM. The recent loss of fellow optician, Jody Shuler, hit Asmuth hard. “He’d visited my shop before opening his own and we talked many times about business. In spirit, I’m sharing this award with him…for the dream he had (and realized) of having his own boutique optical shop. And really, this is a win for all small, boutique optician-run opticals.”

Fine Story: A Love Note to the City

One Hip Chic has an A-frame sidewalk sign in front of the business. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asmuth had various signs made and has changed them every week. The signs include “Air Hug,” “Be Well,” “We are One,” “This Wasn’t on My Vision Board,” and, finally, a big red heart. “The signs have been my love note (and my comic relief) to all who drive or walk past my shop,” she says. Since reopening she’s working one-on-one with customers by appointment only. The appointments are booked online and customers have the option of picking the type of music they want to listen to during their appointment. “This is new for my business and I’m loving it … and my customers are telling me they love it too,” Asmuth shares. “Having no distraction while helping people definitely elevates the eyewear boutique experience. I plan to continue when we’re past the pandemic.”

Having built a career in service journalism, Dee has been covering the eyecare industry for over a decade. As editor-in-chief of INVISION Magazine, she is passionate about telling independent ECPs stories and can be reached directly at [email protected]

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