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This Rhode Island Boutique Makes Exquisite Frame Curation Its Brand

It allows the eyewear to speak for itself.

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Co-owner Jessica Leach describes the look and feel of Opt Eyewear Boutique in Providence, RI, as ‘mid-century modern meets the Apple Store.’

SLEEK, WHITE, AND artfully posed, the mannequins arrayed in the large windows at Opt Eyewear Boutique in Providence, RI, arrest the eye and display the frame lines carefully curated within by husband-and-wife co-owners Jed and Jessica Leach. Their lack of adornment except for eyewear underlines the decade-old business’s branding philosophy, which Jessica sums up as: “We are the brand.”

The figures match the décor inside — clean and minimal in order to highlight and draw attention to the frames, which are “the stars of the show,” as Leach puts it. She sums up the influences on Opt Eyewear’s look as “mid-century modern meets the Apple Store,” adding, “Our marketing materials tend to have a retro feel, reminiscent of a time when customer service was the norm, not the exception.”

The idea for the window mannequins came from Opt’s designer, Kyla Coburn, but in general Jed and Jessica do all of the store’s graphics and branding themselves.

In addition to traditional branded materials like cleaning cloths, spray, and reusable bags, signature items include glow-in-the-dark, regulation weight — a very important detail, Jessica stresses — frisbees and reusable glass water bottles. “We sponsor polo matches in Newport over the summer so the frisbees came about as a giveaway to promote us there. It was amazing returning this year, our second year, and seeing our frisbees flying all over the grounds!”

To strengthen the brand, all ads, whether print or online, have three elements — a mannequin, the store’s spectacles-based logo, and glasses. The store does not display logos from the collections themselves, and the eyewear is not separated by collection.

Opt’s core demographic has expanded from middle-aged residents of the immediate neighborhood to include students from nearby Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, who Leach says are interested in the manufacturing process and story behind each line the store carries.

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For Jessica and Jed Leach (who both also work as eyewear reps), any conversation about branding always returns to the selection of frame lines they choose to sell.

“Define who you are and stick to it,” Jessica advises other optical retailers. “Don’t try to be everything to everyone. It would have been easy for us in the beginning to add lines that people came in asking for, but if we did that, then we wouldn’t be experiencing the year over year growth we have.”

PHOTO GALLERY (6 IMAGES)

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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