I waited until the last possible second to “craft” this editor’s letter for a few reasons.

Firstly, editorial asked for a CEO letter from Marc Ferrara and I didn’t want to repeat his topic. Marc was once editor-in-chief of 20/20 and his guidance remains invaluable.

I also wanted the column to be as timely as possible during these economically stressed times and pushing my deadline to zero-due-time gave me a chance to be as close as possible to the actual event of Vision Expo East which energizes so much of what 20/20 delivers every year with this first of two March issues.

So here’s what I crafted: Yes, that’s right, I used the word craft twice already. And that’s because the idea of craftsmanship and making things has been on my mind constantly these last few months. Throughout these increasingly tough times I’ve become obsessed with the idea of making things and the fact that as a nation we don’t really create much in terms of tangible goods these days. We make cars (but let’s not look too deep into the future for THAT prospect). We make some clothing... but not much. Our textile gig is basically gone. There is still some shoe production left in New England but it’s now been a few years since the last Converse sneaker proudly proclaimed itself as “Made in U.S.A.”

We still build some furniture stateside. My dad was a furniture maker. His craft was carpentry and he was a master at it. He makes a brief but profound appearance in my Jil Sander feature this month as do his handcrafted shoes.

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.

No, I’m not asking you to make eyewear. But you do craft a particular frame and lenses to the highly personalized needs of each patient for their head... their face... their eyes. And I’m positive a key factor in delivering us from this dastard economy is going to be that ability to BEST that talent with a purity of commitment equal to master craftsmanship. In that, be relentless. And I’m sure my dad would be the first to say, “Good job.”        

James J. Spina