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Trading on a Good Name

THIRD PLACE: This hip, inclusive woman-led practice is thriving on the word of mouth it’s built in the buzzing Arts District of Winston-Salem, NC.

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EYES ON TRADE / WINSTON-SALEM, NC

OWNER: Jillian Okeefe, OD | MANAGER: Maggie Campbell | URL: eyesontrade.com | YEAR FOUNDED: 2019 | YEAR OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2018 |AREA: 1,200 sq. ft. | EMPLOYEES: 5 full-time, 2 part-time | FACEBOOK: facebook.com/eyesontrade | INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/eyesontrade | TOP BRANDS: Sabine Be, Moscot, Vernon Gantry, NW77th, Erkers 1879, Etnia Barcelona, Caroline Abram, Hoya, Acuvue, Revolution EHR, Optikam, Optos


With a focus on independent frame lines that ordinary folks can afford, Eyes on Trade is a vibrant, fun, inclusive and LGBTQ-affirming practice that began gaining traction soon after it was opened by Dr. Jillian Okeefe in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, five years ago. The business was set up, according to optician and practice manager Maggie Campbell, “to make building a frame wardrobe full of rad glasses accessible to everyone. Our office prides itself on our customer service, and we have taken great pains to cultivate an inclusive and welcoming environment here in the store. We also make a point of involving ourselves with community events whenever possible.”

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Trading on a Good Name

Maggie Campbell

Physically, the design of Eyes on Trade was inspired by the surrounding Arts District, the neighborhood of galleries, restaurants and studios it calls home. “Every aspect of the store’s aesthetic has been curated to honor the space we are in,” says Campbell. The main frame display is a custom design that was built locally, and the shelving displaying the optical’s luxe collection was cut from wood salvaged from the space during remodeling, paying homage to its history.

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Eyes on Trade’s award-winning window displays are treated as a “passion project,” according to Campbell, with the team usually crafting all of the elements that go into them by hand. “We take great joy in being located in our city’s Arts District and put a lot of love into ensuring that our storefront reflects that. [Team members] Stacia and Megan both have backgrounds in the arts and take point on the fabrication of our beautiful window displays.” A visit to one the practice’s exam rooms is similarly memorable thanks to their striking murals.

Trading on a Good Name

The business’ marketing strategy relies almost entirely on word of mouth, leaving the team to focus their time and resources on their highly creative online presence, particularly the store’s social media accounts — managed by optician Stacia — which eschew stock product images and press materials in favor of photos of customers and patients in their new eyewear, along with creatively designed eye education posts. “We maintain a great online presence, but we honestly spend very little time or money on any other kind of marketing. We’ve built up a very loyal customer base, have won a multitude of local awards. These accomplishments feel even more impactful in light of the fact that they were earned mostly through word of mouth and great customer reviews,” says Campbell, who adds that Eyes on Trade is one of the highest-rated optical offices in the state, according to Google.

Trading on a Good Name

The main frame display was custom designed and built locally. The shelving displaying the optical’s luxe collection was cut from wood salvaged from the space during remodeling.

Campbell describes her team as “comprised of a group of awesome, intelligent women — and one awesome, intelligent man in the lab — who all share a passion for eyewear and utilize their diverse backgrounds for the good of the practice.” A former schoolteacher, she emphasizes educating not just staff but also patients about the intricacies of eyewear and eyecare. “Almost the entire team has been cross-trained to be able to handle any task in the office, from sales to quality control to working with the doctor,” says Campbell, referring Eyes on Trade’s optometrist, Dr. Marium Warsi-Zehri. (Owner Dr. Okeefe lives a few hours away and isn’t involved in the day-today activities of Eyes on Trade.)

Trading on a Good Name

Community involvement is a huge part of Eyes on Trade’s mission statement. Devoted to the neighborhood, the team loves taking part in local events whenever possible, with Pride Week particularly anticipated each year. “We’ve cultivated an amazing team and a fun, supportive work environment. The entire staff truly loves one another, and we love to spend time together outside of work as well,” says Campbell.

Trading on a Good Name

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Five Cool Things About Eyes on Trade

1. DIY LOOK. Eyes on Trade holds eyeglass chain-building workshops for customers in their community who want to get creative with their frame accessories.

2. KEEPING IT FRESH. The practice’s awardwinning window displays are switched out roughly every two months.

3. EYE CATCHING. The walls of the exam rooms are adorned with beautiful floor-to-ceiling murals from local artist Laura Lashley.

4. FRAME FAVE. For a recent trunk show, Eyes on Trade showcased the entire Etnia Barcelona collection in-store.

5. LOCAL TALENT. Eyes on Trade held a cleaning cloth design contest and awarded the winner a free pair of glasses.
Trading on a Good Name

Fine Story

When it comes to community involvement, the team at Eyes on Trade have a full calendar. Says Campbell, “We keep our doors open late for First Friday Gallery Hops, participate whole-heartedly in our local Pride Festival — going so far as to host a drag performance inside of the shop — and do coordinated staff costumes to pass out candy to Trick-or-Treaters during downtown’s Halloween events.” They also strive to give back to the community when possible, and have organized charity events within the shop, as well as hosting art contests to boost recognition for local artists. “Going forward, we plan to expand our community outreach even further!”

Trading on a Good Name

PHOTO GALLERY (43 IMAGES)

JUDGES’ COMMENTS

  • Eyes on Trade is that magical combination of doing it right on so many levels. The skill, talent and friendly, fun demeanor of each team member and the amazing environment showcasing an interesting, curated line-up of collections, creates a unique patient experience. The accessible, inclusive delivery of excellence gives this independent eyewear business a standout posture in the community it serves. Setting the standard for how to create a relevant and sustainable model for success in this new retail landscape for eyecare. — David Duralde, Chief Creative Officer, OGI Eyewear, Minneapolis, MN
  • When it comes to community aesthetic, Eyes on Trade nailed it. Mirroring the cool historic space with an elevated artistic vibe really shows the love for their roots. Bringing the personalized touch of educating patients on eyecare with the modern online shop of eyewear makes for a seamless experience. Well done! — Jenn Denham, Head of Business Development, Review Wave, McKinney, TX
  • The mix of metal bar railing, lights, frame display and mirrors is very clever. It also leaves room for a sleek way to add graphics if desired. The polished concrete flooring, colors and originality really add to what I am sure is a resurrected portion of the city. — Jan Ennis, President/CEO, Ennco Display Systems, Redmond, WA
  • Wow! Every aspect of this practice has clearly been attended to with an eye for detail. It seems that this practice is thoughtful in all that they do! The store itself is so unique, eye catching and cool! Even the standard brick building has been spiced up with interesting windows. They have really catered to the clientele of an arts district, from the unique and funky frames to the affordable options available. The Instagram also remains funky and isn’t repetitive at all! — Paige Kraemer, ABOC, Sales Consultant – Minnesota, Cherry Optical Lab, Green Bay, WI

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