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The Man, The Brand, The Store

For this Andover, MA optician and his family, true independence in business and style is the only way to go.

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Todd Rogers, Andover, MA

OWNER: Todd Rogers Berberian; LOCATION: Andover, MA; URL: toddrogerseyewear.com ; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2014; FOUNDED: 1999; AREA: 1,900 square feet;; EMPLOYEES: 3 full-time, 2 part-time; BUILDOUT COST: $300,000; ARCHITECT AND DESIGN FIRMS: Todd Rogers and Leigh Berberian, Tim Latrell – Newell Farm Builders; TOP BRANDS: Barton Perreira, Face à Face, Orgreen, Todd Rogers, Lindberg, Dita, Thom Browne, STATE; FACEBOOK: /toddrogersandover; TWITTER: /toddrogerseye; INSTAGRAM: /toddrogerseyewear


THE SPACE AT 18 PARK STREET in Andover, MA, now called Todd Rogers, was previously a historic bar and grill. A crooked, two-story building in the heart of downtown, it was perfect for Todd Rogers Berberian and his dream of owning a commercial space. With careful consideration given to Andover’s Historical Commission, in 2014 Todd and wife Leigh gutted and redesigned the shabby 1840s space.

Still a little crooked, the exterior sports patina’d goosenecks and authentic New Orleans gas lanterns hinting at the experience that awaits customers inside: the perfect blend of old and new.

The old was easy thanks to the building and its centuries-old exposed beams, but how to incorporate the “new”? Luckily, Leigh Berberian had handy inspiration. “Todd said, ‘I want it to look like me. If I were a building I’d want it to look like me,’” she says. “I took a good look every day at what he wore, what his proclivities are, and what people already associated with him. It was a collaboration between the two of us every step of the way and I think it ended up looking just like Todd as a building!”

She started with his hometown, Somerville, outside Boston. “It’s got some real gritty history but Todd’s also kind of refined, so I wanted to make sure the space felt like that old school, local hangout where people walk by and wave to each other, but be refined and gentlemanly and not so masculine that females didn’t feel at home in it,” Leigh explains. “I always say Todd is that guy that every guy wants to be friends with and who makes elderly women blush. He just has that kind of general appeal. So, we went into the design saying, ‘How can men and women both fall in love with this space?’”

They started by repurposing the original bar. “It tells a story and it’s bulletproof. It’s been stained, drooled on, spilled on, I’m sure thrown up on. All this stuff,” shares Todd. So, they  made it into their check out desk and dispensing tables. “So many people will rub it and say ‘Oh, I’ve had many a drink at this counter.’” The back of the bar where the liquor shelves were was refinished and stands in for frame boards. “It fits eyewear really, really well,” adds Todd. “I love the fact that it has some holes in it, some dings and cigarette burns all over it. It tells a tale. It shows its past and history.”

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They’ve had lots of fun with the space, including a riff on a famous fashion logo. “I used a lot of PhotoTech, which is digitally printable wallpaper. Instead of buying something, we customized everywhere we wanted large wall murals or patterns,” shares Leigh. “We’ve got our ‘Louis Vuitton’ wall with the logo replaced with all Todd Rogers logos.”

‘Signed’ pictures line the walls of the optical with such glasses-wearing notables as Marilyn Monroe, Harry Potter, and Gandhi. “The idea is that all these people have gotten their glasses from Todd over the years and people think it’s hysterical,” she explains.

Both are huge fans of The Kingsmen and — in a nod to British spy movies — have included a collection of Todd Rogers-branded accessories fashioned after accessories displayed in the movies.

There is a wall of album covers and collections of hard covered books with titles like Evil Genius, Prision Days and Nights and Are Men Necessary? “We actually scoured used bookstores for the funniest ones we could find,” Leigh says.

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The design is beautiful restoration meets Kartell meets your local bar, but Todd Rogers also offers the latest in lens finishing and eyecare tech. In a corner, behind glass, is a state of the art lab. They finish 95 percent of their lenses in-house and offer complete customization. They are also the only Boston-area EnChroma lens dealer. “We’re independent in our lens lines as well and we’re all about educating our patient base,” explains Todd.

There is an optometrist on site, Dr. Charlene Glynn, who has been the resident OD with Todd Rogers, and his previous practice Andover EyeCare, since 2010. In addition to providing comprehensive eye exams using an Optomap, she is experienced in pediatrics, contact lenses and ocular disease.

But it’s not all cheeky touches and fancy tech. Todd is on a mission. “The most important thing I’ve learned in my 27 years as a licensed optician is… properly educating our clients is the non-negotiable job of every optician. Knowledge is what will keep our vocation and our craft relevant.”

It’s a topic he can wax poetic on: “We, as a society, champion the best in automobiles, the finest in wines… yet consumers will easily be lured by the cheapest eyewear. It boggles my brain.” Asked why his glasses are more expensive, he educates his clients on “the technology behind each brand and why I align my business with these lens companies.”

His plans for the future? “F*cking world domination!” He’s kidding… mostly. “We’re looking to stay who we are and to not forget where we came from. But we want to continue to grow and become a name in the industry that when someone says, ‘Hey man, I’m looking for a really great frame,” people say, ‘You should really check out Todd Rogers. They’re the real deal.’”

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PHOTO GALLERY (13 IMAGES)

 

Five Cool Things About Todd Rogers

1. WORLD DOMINATION: Todd Rogers is also home to the headquarters of Todd Rogers Eyewear, an independent wholesale frame brand. While the shop is known as the flagship store, the collection designed by Todd is distributed to over 600 independent practices in the U.S. and Canada.
2. LATE FOR DINNER: At the Berberians’ wedding, many on the guest list started out as clients. Never do business with friends doesn’t apply at Todd Rogers. The downside? Todd is often late for dinner, because he’s having too much fun at work.
3. COMMIT: “Commit to the Turn.” It’s a phrase Todd has been saying since he was a kid. “When I went independent in the office or when I decided to do the frame line, we said, ‘OK, we got to commit.’ So, for us, as a family, as an optical family, as a frame family, as the all-encompassing eyewear family, we’ve said if we’re going to do this, we’re going to commit to the turn and the turn is true independence.”
4. ALL THE FEELS:  “Our marketing is really fun,” shares Leigh. “If you poke a small emotion inside someone with your marketing they are going to remember you. We do full page ads when we market in local magazines and tend to use ourselves, our family, our staff. It can be about eyesight over a lifetime with a heartwarming photo of our children or everybody naked behind a big banner that says, ‘All you need is a great pair!’”
5. READ UP: There are so many little design touches that Leigh added museum-like place cards; if you’re waiting to pick up your glasses or be seen by the doctor, you can read all the little asides that tell you why they made the design choices they did.

FINE STORY

Winning awards isn’t the be-all and end-all of a successful business … but it doesn’t hurt. In addition to being named this year’s America’s Finest Optical Retailer first place winner, Todd Rogers also won the inaugural “OPTImum Independent Retailer of the Year” at this past Vision Expo East, which celebrates independent boutique retailers by showcasing their products, storefronts, visions and — most importantly — their stories. But that’s not it for the accolades. In 2017, Todd himself was named “Optician of the Year for Massachusetts.” His response upon receiving the news? “All I could afford for years was peanut butter sandwiches. Let’s go get a steak.”

 

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

  • Jennifer Coppel:Todd Rogers seems to consistently deliver charm and authenticity in all aspects of his business.  From the comfortable yet artistic interior of his store to his playful advertising campaigns, he connects with his clients and delivers a high level of professionalism.
  • Dr. Mick Kling:Very unique space. What sticks out are the unique and creative ways they’ve displayed not just their eyewear, but also some of the pictures and frames. It looks like they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ways to be creative and unique. They seem to be on top of their social media, and get quite a bit of press.
  • Robert  Bell:What is often missing in optical retailing is the story. Today the story is harder to tell well because it must be told, engagingly, in everything one does. One must live the brand! Todd Rogers is one master storyteller. Their marketing pushes the envelope and, somehow, makes me think they’re challenging me to come up with reasons not to shop with them. I’m a fan of “less is more” in an optical retail shop. But, every once in a while, someone comes along, breaks the rules and does it extraordinarily well.

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 dee@invisionmag.com.

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America's Finest

A Simple Formula Keeps This Vancouver Optical Growing After 40 Years

They created a safe space for self-expression.

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The Optical Boutique, Vancouver, British Columbia

OWNER: Sue Randhawa; URL:theopticalboutique.com ; FOUNDED: 1979; EMPLOYEES: 2 full-time, 1 part-time ; AREA: 1,000 sq. ft.; TOP BRANDS: Anne et Valentin, Theo, Jacques Marie Mage, Face á Face, LPLR ; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/theopticalboutique; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/theopticalboutique


Randhawa enjoys the juxtaposition of antique or vintage aesthetics and The Optical Boutique’s fashion-forward frames.

THE OPTICAL BOUTIQUE was founded in 1979 and quickly became a key destination for eyewear connoisseurs in Vancouver. Sue Randhawa worked alongside the original owners for 15 years before purchasing the business in 2007. Having already built a rapport with the clientele, she opted for a minor update rather than a wholesale reinvention. But that would soon be forced upon her when the building management unexpectedly invoked a clause in the lease that allowed them to tear the site down for a complete rebuild. “What began as an unfortunate circumstance evolved into an awesome opportunity. I was involved in the entire design process [of the new store]. It was amazing to be able to see my vision for the space become a reality.”

The Optical Boutique is unmistakably the expression of a personality, rather than the sleek product of a design consultancy. Frames reside in antique draws, set off by vintage signage; they’re draped over old books with cracked spines and perched atop ancient typewriters. Randhawa’s touch is evident in large features like the store’s brick accent wall, its display cabinets, and the antiques she collects during frame-buying trips. She particularly enjoys the juxtaposition of antique or vintage aesthetics and The Optical Boutique’s fashion-forward frames.

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Randhawa tries to travel at least twice a year to European shows for buying and chooses selections with her diverse clientele in mind. “I choose collections that are handmade, unique, colorful, and whenever possible logo-free.”

The store is located in Kerrisdale, a “tight-knit” community, in Randhawa’s words, on Vancouver’s West Side that skews to the older and wealthier, though The Optical Boutique has established a city-wide reputation and is drawing a growing number of people from other demographics and neighborhoods thanks to its well-tended online presence. “Our average client is around 60-70 years old and is anything but typical. One of the things we hear often in the store is how diverse our collection is,” she says. “We often have clients in the neighborhood who come in with their friends to get a minor adjustment and end up staying to visit and browse.”

The team at The Optical Boutique strives for a nurturing environment. “We encourage positive self-talk, as the majority of people, when confronted with a mirror, become their own biggest critic. This type of service does not go unnoticed as we receive numerous recommendations based on the experience we provide.” So numerous, in fact, that Randhawa doesn’t really bother with traditional marketing. “We have spent 40 years sticking to our simple business model — to sell quality products at a reasonable price and focus on providing the best customer service possible,” she says. “It speaks volumes to us that we get most of our new clients from them seeing and loving our eyewear on existing clients and being referred in to us.”

Having said that, she does have a strong presence on social media. “I really do try to follow a posting schedule, but I find that my organic posts, the ones that I share because I like something about the image, seem to resonate more.” The store’s Facebook and Instagram accounts reflect Randhawa’s deep engagement with the local fashion scene. “The images I post illustrate the way we work; each person is different and has their own fashion journey. I like to show other women they can have fun with their eyewear.”

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Randhawa credits her staff of “unique and complementary individuals. Each has their own perspective, style, taste, and personality. I love that we all bring different strengths to the table. Some days it feels like we spend more time laughing than working.”

It says a lot about Randhawa’s achievement at The Optical Boutique that to her, entering the store “feels like coming home. I have had clients tell me it feels more like visiting a friend than an optical store. This is a place where clients become friends and people feel safe to express themselves.”

PHOTO GALLERY (13 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About The Optical Boutique

1. MATCH MAKER. Randhawa has relationships with all of Vancouver’s major lens manufacturers “so we have the diversity to find the right lens on an individual basis.”

2. FASHION FIXTURE. The team are regulars at Vancouver Fashion Week. “I love seeing the designers’ concepts come to life. It’s so much fun to be a part of their journey and to collaborate with them.”

3. INFLUENCER. @theopticalboutique was voted one of the “Top 25 Vancouver Fashion Instagram accounts to follow” by a local online newspaper.

4. DOOR-TO-DOOR. Randhawa makes house calls. Sometimes with a small collection of frames to do a complete fit in the home, other times just to say hi. “It’s a lovely interlude in my day.”

5. GIVING BACK. Every year the business provides a scholarship to an emerging designer or student who shows at Fashion Week.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • Sue’s love of fashion and eyewear is evident; but what strikes me even more is her desire to help patients discover their personal style: “Each person is different and has their own fashion journey.” Nathan Troxell, PPG, Monroeville, PA
  • Sue’s passion and enthusiasm for quality, individuality and culture clearly translate into a unique story with a strong dose of personality — all with a distinct point of view. Stirling Barrett, KREWE, New Orleans, LA
  • There are some awesomely creative things about this shop — and the social media looks as slick and cool as the website. Leigh and Todd Rogers Berberian, Todd Rogers Eyewear, Andover, MA
  • The best marketing tool The Optical Boutique has is Sue. Her active involvement in the local fashion scene and her unique and eclectic style provide amazing PR that cannot be bought. Beverly Suliteanu, Westgroupe, Ville St-Laurent, Québec, Canada

 

Fine Story

Randhawa and her team have worked hard to disabuse their clientele of the idea that they have to match their eyewear to their clothes. “For so long people have been worried that their new glasses won’t ‘go’ with what they’ve got in their wardrobe, but this has to stop,” she says. “We try to educate each client that our goal is for the eyewear to be harmonious with their own coloring, and that means they won’t have to worry about matching it. In fact, sometimes having a contrasting color can be quite striking.” Randhawa tries to show through her own eyewear that glasses can be an excellent way to make a statement, add some color to a complexion, or even elevate an outfit. “I think what we’ve created at The Optical Boutique is a safe space for people to try to test their own boundaries and explore their inner creativity in a way they might not have even considered before,” she says.

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America's Finest

You’ll Be Amazed What This Minnesota Practice Did with 1,000 Sq. Ft.

Hint: A stunning optical, exam lane AND plans to put in an edger.

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Wink Family Eye Care of SLP, St. Louis Park, MN

OWNER: Dr. Roman Gerber; URL:winkfamilyeyecare.com ; FOUNDED: 2018 ; ARCHITECT FIRM: Bob Shaffer Foundation Architects; EMPLOYEES: 2 full-time ; AREA: 1,000 sq. ft.; TOP BRANDS: Ørgreen, Etnia Barcelona, MODO, Acuvue Oasys 1 Day, Fresh Day Sphere; FACEBOOK: facebook.com/winkslp; INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/wink_of_slp; YELP:yelp.com/biz/wink-family-eye-care-of-slp-saint-louis-park; BUILDOUT COST: $150K


Dr. Roman Gerber had wanted to open his own practice from the moment he graduated OD school in 2011. His dream came true in January 2018.

DR. ROMAN GERBER WANTED to cold-open a practice from the moment he graduated optometry school in 2011. Life circumstances and other opportunities kept that from happening for a few years, but by early 2017 he was scoping out potential locations for his own business in the South Minneapolis/St. Louis Park, MN area.

Things moved pretty quickly and the doors to Wink Family Eye Care of SLP opened on Jan. 15, 2018. Gerber began by seeing patients at Wink three half-days a week, while still working at his previous office; but before the year was out, Wink had gone from one to two full-time employees and was busy enough for Gerber to start working there full-time himself.

Gerber’s prime motivation for choosing the St. Louis Park neighborhood was because that was where his family first settled after immigrating from Russia when he was just 4 years old.

But as he took a closer look at the area, he was surprised at how much busier certain blocks were than others not that far away. The location he eventually settled on benefits from being in a mixed commercial and residential zone with Fresh Thyme and Trader Joe’s groceries nearby, a CVS pharmacy across the street and a busy Starbucks outlet just two doors down.

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Gerber estimates that about half of his patients are in the 20-39 age group, and they’re an important segment for Wink. “However, that still leaves half of our patient base as younger than 20, or 40 and older. We try to cater to everyone.” Figuring out the ways to cater to each group has been a learning experience, he says. “We understand that many of our Millennial/Gen Z patients may prefer to communicate through secure email/text so we try to accommodate that. Although some of our Gen X/Baby Boomer patients would prefer phone calls, it has been surprising to me how many of our patients from those generations also prefer text messages.”

The store’s décor and distinctive green color scheme were inherited from Wink’s partner business, Wink Family Eye Care in Chanhassen, MN, with a few embellishments. The store’s cool feel, sleek materials and careful, efficient use of space offer a lesson in how to make the most of a smaller space. Explains Gerber: “With our young hip demographic, we focused on a classier optical. The walls are lined with stinkwood and showcase our frame lines beautifully. We have a small, 1,000 square foot, flag-shaped space. We wanted to fit a pretest room, exam room, office, and future edger without sacrificing our optical. Our architect worked tirelessly to fit all of these components and to allow a natural flow.”

Eyewear is merchandised by brand, with Tracey Eggerstedt, Wink’s technician/paraoptometric/optician extraordinaire organizing and reorganizing constantly. Once again, it’s a constant learning curve: “It’s interesting to see where people look at glasses and which locations are ‘hot spots,’” Gerber says. He adds that the store’s online focus is primarily on building brand awareness. “We like to educate our patients while still showcasing our fun vibe.”

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Gerber strongly believes in listening to staff, treating them with respect, and empowering them. “Take care of your staff and they will take care of your patients,” he counsels. Before every eye exam, staff call on the patient’s medical and vision insurance to ensure there are no surprise bills. Eggerstedt focuses on pre-testing, frame styling, and learning everything about ocular health. “She enjoys being quirky with our patients and getting to know each one,” Gerber says. But all of the staff do a little bit of everything. “Kristin [Cannon] is our contact lens guru. She loves working with scleral lenses and doing difficult insertion and removal trainings.” The key to achieving great service, Gerber says, is to “treat every patient as if they were your family. We really try to empower patients and give them information to make the decisions for themselves. Everybody’s life is different and all we can do is educate our patients on all their options.”

PHOTO GALLERY (20 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Wink Family Eye Care of SLP

1. PARTNERS IN FINE. Wink Family Eye Care of SLP has a partner practice, Wink Family Eye Care in Chanhassen, MN, another America’s Finest Honorable Mention. They share staff, records and a website, but are run as separate businesses.

2. MEET & GREET. The Wink team are huge believers in networking and spend about five hours a week meeting other small businesses in the community, looking for ways to help each other out.

3. WILL TRAVEL. Gerber has made charity trips to Honduras, India, Mexico and Peru, and for two years helped build clinics in The Gambia, West Africa.

4. AWARD WINNING. Staff member Tracey Eggerstedt was named Paraoptometric of the Year in 2018 by the Minnesota Optometric Association.

5. EASY ON THE EYE. The store’s green color theme was chosen on the basis that the green wavelength of 555nm is the easiest for the rods in the retina to see.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID

  • Great logo, clean marketing materials and excellent use of that eye-popping green. Very clean and “shoppable” store layout. Nathan Troxell, PPG, Monroeville, PA
  • Refreshing in its simplicity and direct messaging. A solidly cool business. Leigh and Todd Rogers Berberian, Todd Rogers Eyewear, Andover, MA
  • While they obviously take the medical side of their business very seriously, there is a quirky, fun side that is evident in their marketing materials and social media posts. I like the community involvement, both local and global. Beverly Suliteanu, Westgroupe, Ville St-Laurent, Québec, Canada

 

Fine Story

Wink Family Eye Care of SLP owner Dr. Roman Gerber’s approach to choosing the precise location for the practice was downright scientific. In early 2017, while looking for places in South Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, MN, he says, “We ran a geospatial analysis (a gathering, of imagery, GPS, satellite photography and historical data for specific geographic coordinates, i.e. a street address or postal code) on a few spaces that were available. We were aware the area was changing rapidly, but it was great to see whether our assumptions about traffic patterns were correct. For the most part they were.”

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America's Finest

A Second Optical Location Hitting the Next Level of Candy Crush in Cleveland

People said their business would be ‘too funky’ for the Midwest but they proved their critics wrong.

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3RD Place: EYE CANDY OPTICAL PINECREST | Cleveland, OH

Next Level Candy Crush

People told these optical biz owners that Cleveland wasn’t ready for ‘funky, futuristic and weird,’ but they proved them wrong a second time.

OWNERS: Steve Nelson and Anton Syzdykov | URL: eye-candy-optical.com | YEAR FOUNDED: 2012 |YEAR OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2018 | AREA: 2,000 sq. ft. | EMPLOYEES: 6 full-time | FACEBOOK: facebook.com/EyeCandyOpticalCle | INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/eyecandycle | TWITTER: twitter.com/ECO_Cleveland | YELP: yelp.com/biz/eye-candy-optical-beachwood | TOP BRANDS: Sospiri, Matsuda, Face à Face, Dita, Theo | BUILD OUT COST: $1.1M with equipment | ARCHITECT AND DESIGN FIRMS: Helen Rogic, ONE Interior (one-interior.com), and Jeff Bogart, Bogart Architecture, Inc.


Like many business ideas, Eye Candy Optical was born of a need. Steve Nelson, who launched Eye Candy Optical with Anton Syzdykov in Cleveland, OH, in 2013, recalls: “We couldn’t find fashionable glasses in our hometown.” They set out to change the local optical landscape by bringing a world-class eyewear shop to the city “based equally on fashion and function.” As industry outsiders, they felt they could avoid tunnel vision and preconceived notions. Of course, it’s one thing to identify a need — it’s how you go about filling it that matters. Eye Candy Optical’s founders were determined to do it with flair. “We asked ourselves: ‘What if Victoria’s Secret and House of Blues opened a glasses shop?’” The result was their first store in Westlake, west of downtown. Five years later, Nelson and Syzdykov opened a second location in the Pinecrest mixed-use development in Orange Village, one of Cleveland’s upscale eastern suburbs.

The goal with the second location wasn’t to duplicate the success of the first, but to build on it. “We had built a store that could compete with the best New York, LA, London or Paris shops,” says Nelson. “Sadly, many industry people, neighbors, competitors said we would fail. The shop was ‘too funky, futuristic and weird’ for the Midwest. Fast forward to today; we are very successful and have opened a second location.” Incorporating their five years of experience, the new location takes the strengths of the first store to the next level with added creature comforts, a superior lab and the latest in exam-room gear.

According to Nelson, it took several years to find the right space. “It was more than finding the right location, it was finding the location within the location,” he says. “We insisted on a spot caddy corner to the Whole Foods for the best visibility and parking.”

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It took many tries before they hit on the right design. “Truthfully we almost blew it and created an awful space that was fun but tantamount to a medical office instead of a sexy shop. We had to go back to basics and really recreate a better version of our first location. Sometimes you have all the answers right in front of you.” He acknowledges Helen Rogic from ONE Interiors, who did their displays, as a key contributor. “Without her … I don’t know how we would have tackled this project. She’s an amazing talent.”

“Sexy, cool, and very rock n’ roll” was the look and feel Nelson and Syzdykov were going for —fitting for a store just miles from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The optical’s layout is based around a circle of custom European displays by ONE Interior surrounding a coffee bar offering real Italian espresso and artisan teas.

When opening their second location in Cleveland’s Orange Village, Nelson and Syzdykov focused on the ‘location within the location’.

A large open window allows customers to see directly into the lab. Behind the center wall is a hallway that leads customers “back stage” where they find a first-class lounge with designer couch, bar seating and fridge with drinks and snacks. This area houses the state-of-the-art exam and pretest rooms, plus the “sexiest bathroom in optical with techno music and lights.”

Disappointed with the quality and selection in the mid-market category, the pair decided to design and manufacture their own frame line, Sugar Specs. It was a lengthy learning process and has been both labor and capital intensive, but well worth it, they say. “We set out to improve our position in this important price category by taking the bull by the horns. This is not simply choosing a design from a box of samples; instead we do our own hand and 3D drawings and get inspiration from our staff and customers,” says Nelson. They offer about 15 models in four colors and are working on getting it up to 50 models in the next 24 months. Frames are made from premium acetates or titanium with European hardware.

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The way Nelson and Syzdykov see it, they have “a vested interest in making customers look awesome.” What they strive to deliver, they say, is not just an amazing pair of glasses, but compliments and social validation from each client’s friends, peers, and relatives — with some fun along the way.

Thinking back on Eye Candy’s arrival on a staid Cleveland optical scene six years ago, Nelson says, “Look, we were different. People are always afraid of what is different. We were unapologetic when we said, ‘We are going to be the sexy rock ’n’ roll optical in Cleveland.’ Be bold, be brave, and stick to your vision.”

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

Nathan Troxell: The Eye Candy Optical brand and persona is embraced throughout the entire patient experience and across all consumer touch points. Terrific connection to their home city by embracing the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the attitude that goes along with it.

Stirling Barrett: Eye Candy Optical is showing that eyewear can be creative, exciting and fun. They care not only about getting customers in a frame that looks great, but they also have a fun approach in getting their customers to try new styles and push their comfort zone.

Beverly Suliteanu:This is a serious business that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fun, cool spirit throughout, from interior design to frame collections, marketing material and online platforms. They are quite high tech and appear to put as much emphasis on the substance (eyecare) as they do on the style (eyewear).

PHOTO GALLERY (28 Images)

5 COOL THINGS ABOUT EYE CANDY
 OPTICAL

1 EDGE ON THE COMPETITION. Eye Candy’s lab has a commercial edger from MEI Italy that allows the practice to make glasses on demand in minutes.

2 GET WITH ‘THE PROGRAM.’ Eye Candy staff wrote their own POS and accounting software that integrates with their edgers, labs, and medical equipment, simply called “the program.” A major undertaking, the end result is a streamlined system that has cut the average transaction time by 50 percent.

3 2020 VISION. The new store has the latest Visionix and Reichert pre-test and exam equipment for faster and more accurate exams.

4 IN THE MOOD. Eye Candy uses the SONOS system to set up to four different music stations. “The mood needs to be different on the retail floor versus the exam room,” says Nelson. They have everything from oldies and lounge to metal and techno.

5 WOW FACTOR. A front display window includes an advanced LED light show. The idea, says Syzdykov, is to “dazzle customers with an ever-changing screen with inspirational photos, sayings and memes, and to make it fun.”

Fine Story

“We are really proud of the ‘Eye Candy Process’ we utilize to get the customer to their perfect frame,” Nelson says. To do this, opticians and stylists are asked to pull five to seven frames for each client that “push their fashion comfort zone,” in a variety of colors, styles and price points. “Then we play a game called ‘Hate/Don’t Hate.’ If they ‘don’t hate it’ it stays in the tray.” (They used to say, “Like/Hate” but customers found the word “Like” too committal.) More frames get pulled, the cream rises to the top, and, eventually, the customer can be certain they found the best frame. It sounds simple but it takes a very skilled person to lead the process and consider the client’s style, facial features, skin tone, color palette, occupation, and the image they want to project. “Try doing that at a chain store! Here we are all psychologists, detectives, artists, and stylists!”

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