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Editor's Note

Find Your People; The Wisdom I Gleaned From Beauty Queens

There is no one correct way to win but you do need to find the people who will clap loudest.




WHEN I WAS 10 or so my older sister got involved in beauty pageants. My mother wasn’t thrilled but supported the endeavor and for the next three years we drove around the Hudson Valley, sequins, hairspray, hopes and dreams in tow.

My sister’s results varied, but for each pageant she became more poised, honed her look, and improved her interview skills. One of the most significant things we remember from that time is something the pageant directors stressed: Regardless of the results, one girl was not better than another, she had just found her judging panel. And if they kept at it, one day they too would find their judges.

And one pageant, my sister found her judges and was crowned Miss Teen Dutchess County 1990.

I come back to that idea — find your judges, find your people — time and time again. Certainly, every year when it’s time to sort the results of our America’s Finest Optical Retailers contest … but also when it comes to jobs, friendships, romantic relationships and community. Not everyone is going to like you. Those are not your people. Find your people.


We’ve had some diehards apply to America’s Finest year after year, each time tweaking their entry until they make it to the big show because they found their judges — you can check some of them out starting on page 38. And I am grateful for their perseverance. The big, glossy, expensive practices are gorgeous, but I love it when scrappy, passion project, small businesses get recognized. And this year three of them found their people and took top honors.

Just like a beauty queen hands off her crown after her year reign, so too does our previous America’s Finest winner with an appearance on our last page — Sanity Files (page 70) — and Dr. Matt Barber of the awe-inspiring CHROMA in Ft. Worth, TX, is the perfect bookend to an issue that shows us there is no one way to be an America’s Finest.

Best wishes for your business,

Power Yogaing My Way to Metamorphosis

Power Yogaing My Way to Metamorphosis

Power Yogaing My Way to Metamorphosis

Five Smart Tips From This Issue

  1. Keep your display areas fresh. (And take inspiration from this year’s America’s Finest winner!) (Manager’s To-Do, page 20)
  2. You may see a new name on our trends pages … or rather you might not. The Masked Editor’s identity won’t be unveiled until 2024. Any idea who it is? (Eyeglasses, page 26)
  3. Catch the homage on our cover? This year’s America’s Finest 1st place winner has a long history of riffing on pop culture imagery in their marketing. We thought it only fitting we do so too. (Big Story, page 38)
  4. Don’t have the money or time for focus groups? Texas State Optical’s John Marvin did it for you. (Columns, page 63)
  5. Have thoughts about the future of licensing and refraction? So does our Brain Squad. Check out their hot takes here and more on (Buzz Session, page 66)

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


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