By Marisol Rodriguez, ABO-AC, NCLEC
Opticianry is an ever-evolving field in all its facets. I love reading through trade magazines and staying abreast of the latest frame styling trends and ophthalmic lens technologies. A quote I read from James Spina, Editor-in-Chief of 20/20 Magazine, written over a decade ago really hit home for me…
“...and it is this near lost art of craftsmanship that has me wondering if the source of salvation and success in the optical arena might not be rooted in honing your craft…”
- James Spina, “If I were a Carpenter” , 2009
How do we once again empower eye care professionals to repeatedly create memorable experiences, and once again, dive deeper into honing the craft of opticianry? Everyone remembers someone who helped them when they were in a jam, or someone who sparked a fond memory that you shared with them. It’s human nature. We are emotionally touched when we feel seen and heard. As an optician, I feel extremely proud when I can look at a pair of glasses, know that I have helped that person, and recall and recite back specific details, styling preferences, and conversations that we had. Even more so, when the client noted, “it was the best experience from beginning to end with style and fit.” The eyewear captures a specific time, place, and emotion for both the patient and myself. That experience goes beyond the dispensary and is far beyond being just transactional.
I’ll shine a light on an entrepreneur and licensed optician whom I have come to admire, Tiffany Tolle-Liberty, proud owner of Northwest Frame Repair. She has been mastering the craft of opticianry by rejuvenating, customizing, and resurrecting ophthalmic frames, Tiffany had very quickly realized the personal gratification and value of being able to be of service to the public, but also to all eye care professionals. Dare I say, “she’s the opticians', optician.”
I had the privilege of sitting down with Tiffany, professional-to-professional, and was enlightened to hear about all the different services that her company offers. Precision welding (including titanium) - done under a microscope and does not use flame to achieve the repair, but an arc of electricity that creates the circumstance to weld the metal. A filler material is used to give additional stability to their precision welding. It does not cause extensive finish damage like traditional soldering does. Another one of her specialties is custom powder coating. A very intricately specialized powder coating service allows them to match the existing frame color or change it to a completely different color. Other services offered include, but are not limited to, bridge and temple fit modifications, gold plating and palladium retouches, horn mending, even polishing, matting, or custom engraving zyls.
If you currently do not offer customized services for your clientele, I encourage you to strongly consider it. Keep giving your clients more reasons to come back. Let your clients know that the frames they love and have been sitting in a drawer for a few years can be rejuvenated and updated with their current prescription. Those vintage frames they’ve inherited from their grandparents that they love so dearly, can be repaired, and brought back to their glory for daily use. The frame style they are known for, that looks great with every outfit, can be duplicated, and customized to a different color for versatility. Who’s to say offering these services won't encourage the client to expand their current eyewear wardrobe? Do not rob them, or yourself, of the opportunities you can create.
The public, in a variety of ways, is asking for services in a language we all still need to interpret, and it's apparent they are asking for services that involve ingenuity and reconnecting with the origins of opticianry… the art form and the craft.
“We’ve taken the craft and really turned it into an art form… an art form we are extremely proud of.”
- Northwest Frame Repair