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This Ontario Mobile Styling Service Helps Clients Accessorize Their Wardrobes — While Racking up Multipair Sales

This optician wasn’t interested in bricks and mortar and she couldn’t stand to see clients choosing frames that didn’t match their clothe.

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Optician/stylist Wendy Buchanan
Optician/stylist Wendy Buchanan uses her ‘5 Spec Style’ system to boost sales.

MOST OF US start down a few paths in life before finding the right one — some people forge one all their own. Ontario-based optician and image consultant Wendy Buchanan did just that, learning the ropes in opticianry, sales and wardrobe styling (and even as a dental assistant) before drawing on all she had learned to open a mobile eyewear styling service and training program.

THE IDEA

Buchanan started her optical career in a basement lab before moving into sales at big box stores. Ten years in, she was bored and “wanted out.” Having always loved fashion, she trained as an image consultant and launched a wardrobe styling business. As she worked with people on their clothing style, fit and colors, it became increasingly hard to ignore the disconnect between their eyewear choices and their clothing style and personality.

“One day,” she recalls, “one client said, ‘You’re an optician — why don’t you get me some new glasses?’”

THE EXECUTION

This simple question brought things together for Buchanan. Pivoting quickly, she opened her new eyewear styling service, Perceptions Eyewear Inc., in 1997.

Buchanan had worked in a retail environment, and let’s just say she did not love it. “I knew I did not want to open a retail store. With my wardrobing business, I would always meet clients at their home/office so I could see their existing clothing and work environment. I decided to offer that same personalized service with eyewear.” The result was her “mobile eyewear boutique.” Being in clients’ environments helped her use eyewear to accessorize their wardrobes in a way that complemented the style, fabrics, and colors they loved. Starting with an inventory of 12 frames she now stocks over 400 sourced from independent designers from around the world.

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In the first couple of years, she was only selling one pair of glasses to each client. “I had enough business acumen to realize that if I was offering high-touch personalized service and only selling one pair at a time, I was going to go out of business.” Drawing on the image theory she had gained in training for wardrobe consulting and what she had learned on her own, she came up with her “5 Spec Style” personalities. “I could recognize similarities in clothing style, personal color, accessories, facial features, strengths and careers.” The next step was to develop the “sales process/journey” that Buchanan implements with each client. It didn’t take long to see results. Applying her system, multipair sales grew from zero to 70% with most people buying at least two pairs, some four. Recently, one couple bought 14 pairs in one appointment.

THE REWARDS

Buchanan’s successful business is now complemented by her Be Spectacular Eyewear Styling System, with which she trains optometry teams to implement her process. “I have seen offices attract new team members because they were offering fashion training. [They] embrace the styling process and sell more glasses,” she says, adding that some opticals trained by her have changed their business model from walk-in to appointment only with increased multipair sales. Interestingly, since she started training others, her own retail business has seen a 30% increase in sales.

In the end, says Buchanan, “It is the consumers that win. If they are styled in beautiful specs and they feel amazing, they go out in the world and confidently do what they do best.” Learn more at bespectacular.com/optical.

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After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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