My mom always told me you should remember someone’s name. With a Rolodex in my head that stretches over the last twenty-three years in business, it is a point of pride that I can still tell you every person’s name that walks into Inspired by Rossland Optical.
It was Maya Angelou that said, “People don’t always remember what you said, but they remember how you made them feel.” I always want my customers to feel welcome in my store. Let’s back up for a bit, though. First, let me tell you how my journey started.
THE EARLY DAYS
My mom invested in an optical store in 1984, and I started working there in 1986. A pharmacist by trade, my mom always took a different approach to her optical business, and her lessons still stay with me today. She didn’t just look at a person and say, here take this. She looked at their entire history. That’s what a good pharmacist does, and subsequently, that is also what a good optician does too.
As a young woman, I didn’t see myself in the optical business. So, I went and tried other things. Soon realizing I didn’t know everything and returning to work in the industry.
In 1994 I went to school to become an optician, but I had already been immersed in the industry since 1986 and had many mentors. One of my mentors was a gentleman who had learned his trade in World War II, and so I learned a lot of old school tips and tricks and craftsmanship from him. My mentors served me well when I opened Rossland Optical in 1996.
THE TECHNICAL SIDE
In this day and age of technology and computers, knowing how to make a pair of glasses by hand is rare, and that does give me an edge on others in the industry. It allows me to be able to solve customer’s problems quickly because I have in-depth knowledge and expertise of how lenses work. For efficiency sake, I do use external lab partners but we are one of the few opticals that can use your old frame and replace the lenses.
It is easy to get focused on the frames and fashion of eyewear, but the technical aspect is a huge responsibility. If the lenses aren’t correct, it can make the eyes worse or cause other lifestyle concerns like sore necks and headaches. An excellent example of this is drug store readers. For a portion of the population they might be fine, but for the other portion, over-time these can lead to problems. That is why it’s so essential to get glasses that fit correctly and also to have the correct prescription.
That is not to say that I don’t like the fashion aspect. That is another area of my business that I get a thrill out of. I love helping customers find a new look, whether they are not feeling as confident or merely want a change. There are so many frame options available to suit every person who comes into the store.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH
As a general rule, how I look at my role as an Optician is with a holistic approach. This is very different than most Opticians today. I present eyewear solutions to my customers based on a variety of lifestyle factors and get the entire picture before making any recommendations for their vision. It is not that I need to know every detail of their lives, but it helps me to paint a clear picture of their needs before a personalized solution is presented.
Proper vision is critical to your health and wellness, and it is something that is often overlooked. I work with a lot of seniors, and a loss of vision could mean further isolation to a group that is already more isolated due to health issues. Unfortunately, health care is not as collaborative as it could be, and if there was more collaboration, many eye issues could be addressed early on before they became major problems.
Even though I was thrown into the industry at a young age, I still get up every morning and am excited about what I do. I not only enjoy the problem solving and the technical aspect of what I do, but I also love people. I love helping them, and I love helping them feel good in their eyewear. Whether it’s a young child, a mom returning to the workforce, or a senior citizen, for me, it’s a rush. Like a skydiver who would get a rush jumping out of a plane, for me, I get that same rush helping people with their eyewear.
And it’s a good thing I have a fabulous team behind me. One thing I learned a long time ago is that I need to surround myself with people who are skilled at what I am not. I work with a fantastic team that excels in those areas. They are the yin to my yang, and without them, Inspired by Rossland Optical would not be the success it is today.