By Jillian Urcelay

JU: What was your inspiration behind founding Anwuli Eyewear, and what does your brand offer its wearers?
NN: As a practicing optometrist, I noticed that many of my patients in my largely Black demographic struggled to find fashionable frames that fit properly. As someone with high cheekbones and a wide face, I also struggled to find statement pieces that fit me well. This inspired me to create Anwuli Eyewear, which offers larger eye sizes, longer temples and low bridge fit principles to ensure a comfortable and stylish fit. We believe people have unique facial landscapes, and that no matter your race or ethnic background, you deserve fashionable frame options that fit well. Our frames are designed to make a statement without speaking, while also providing exceptional comfort and fit for our wearers.

In what ways has being a practicing optometrist factored into the success of creating your own eyewear line?
You would be surprised that even in my retail optometry setting, patients love to get my opinion on what frames to select. I’ve had numerous conversations with patients about their frustrations with finding frames that fit properly and meet their style preferences. I’ve also heard from optical staff about the limited options available to these patients, with women with wider faces and high cheekbones often being fit in men’s frames and men experiencing discomfort from poorly fitting frames. This in-depth knowledge and empathy for my patients’ pain points inspired me to intentionally design frames with larger eye sizes, longer temples and low bridge fit principles to provide a comfortable, stylish and size inclusive fit. I have almost exclusively worn contacts for correction since age 15. I’ve been aware that frames did not fit me well; however, it took years in practice to really identify what was not working. Being an optometrist has allowed me to understand the needs of these patients and create a line of eyewear that truly meets those needs.

What design details and features does your collection have that makes Anwuli styles more inclusive than “standard” fit frames?
At Anwuli, we understand that standard fit frames often don’t meet the needs of many individuals. To ensure we incorporated the most important parameters, we surveyed opticians to identify the top three pain points they experienced when fitting Black patients: narrow eye sizes, short temples and ill-fitting bridges. Our first collection addresses these concerns with eye sizes ranging from 49 to 65 mm, temples from 152 to 157 mm and low bridge fit principles to accommodate flatter noses. By incorporating these design details and features, we strive to provide a comfortable and stylish fit for our customers.

How has bringing Anwuli to the eyewear market impacted your patients?
The feedback we’ve received from our patients and customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Our frames have transformed the experience for fashionable frame wearers who have struggled in the past to find statement pieces that fit well. Practices and optical shops that carry our frames have reported that they’ve been able to retain patients who may have otherwise gone elsewhere due to a lack of fashionable choices in more inclusive sizing. We’re thrilled to have made a positive impact in the lives of so many individuals, and we’re committed to continuing to provide stylish and comfortable eyewear for all.

What’s next on the horizon for you both professionally and for your brand?
Professionally, I plan to continue practicing while growing the brand to even more inclusive sizing and styles. Black people are not a monolith, and we want to incorporate feedback on our designs in future collections to continue to diversify optical selections. It has become abundantly clear that as an optometrist and founder of Anwuli Eyewear, my mission is to help people see clearly and have clear vision, not just what’s in front of them but also what they can imagine for their lives. That is why I am committed to using a portion of proceeds from sales to advance the mindset work we are doing with adolescents and young adults to encourage the development of their dreams and goals. We’re excited to continue making a positive impact, and providing stylish and comfortable eyewear. Anwuli is an Igbo Nigerian name that translates to “joy”—we are committed to making eyewear a pure joy. ■