As expected, there is certainly a buzz for the BIG news in optical being the latest mega-consolidations and the hottest fashion designer brand debuts clustered around the New York Expo East time period. But here at 20/20, we’re extraordinarily energized by the intensely healthy and growing relationship between Independent Eyewear dispensers and retailers, and the growing power of Independent Eyewear vendors dedicated to brands with a proud and totally eyewear related heritage. This scenario is unique to optical and in celebration of this honorable and growing enhanced vision, we’re honored to be hosting a few of these players from both sides of the retailing scenario as they detail their Declaration of Independence at a special panel discussion and meet-and-greet dubbed Independent’s Day on Saturday, April 1 at 5 p.m. in the Galleria Lounge at Vision Expo East.

Fittingly, we’ve decided to add a healthy dose of editorial features to this annual What’s Brand New edition of 20/20 celebrating this Independent agenda.

The profile of an opti-player engaged in both the retailing AND vendor sides of Independence plays out in the Todd Rogers Eyewear feature so deftly and creatively handled by my wife Kristen Spina. Way to go babe! We’ve now worked together for nearly 30 years, and your ability to deliver engaging stories pushing the envelope of imagination is quite simply… inspirational.

And since we’re name checking on sources of inspiration, I must mention one of my constant reasons for believing and trusting when it comes to all things “independently” optical, and that would be my friend Louis Fullagar. This dude haunts the realm of socialEYEzing with a profound presence that is both personal and professional. In the particular instance of this issue he turned me on to “Independent Thinker” Todd (Rogers) Berberian but even more so, Fullagar has built a career on his commendable great taste in everything from guitars to motorcycles to spectacles, and everyone might do well tapping into him and the resourcefulness he offers via [email protected].

Another feature new to this What’s Brand New is the MarketPulse focused on Independent Eyewear. In her position as Senior Research Analyst for Jobson Research, Jennifer Waller manages and annotates a studied accumulation of optical specific data renowned for its depth and detail. And it is the analyst facet of her function that brings a wealth of knowledge and stats direct to YOUR numerous needs as you shape and nurture your particular specialties and niches in this optical arena. If you truly want to know what’s brand new NOW and in your forSEEable future, Waller has the numbers and the nuances keeping you both on and likely ahead of the big picture.

Lastly, this edition of WBN is a spike of healthy page counting and a giant hunk of those pages were delivered with eloquent poise and prose by editor Jillian Urcelay, now in her second year at the helm of this chunky second March issue. Not a day goes by where she doesn’t pop into my office with her signature, “Can I just ask you something?” and more likely than not, it’s me about to learn something completely new and… eye opening. Jillian… quite honestly… YOU are What’s Brand New.   

James J. Spina
[email protected]