A personal highlight of my whole time in this wonderful world of optical has easily been the honor of serving as the host of the Vision Expo Independent Eyewear Panel in its numerous twice-yearly initiative to address positive facets of truly individualeyezed efforts from both retailers and vendors.

The scenario evolved from an invitation of the edCFDA eyewear designers (specifically Christian Roth and Blake Kuwahara) about four years ago to host one of their Expo show floor discussions and presentations aimed toward inspiring new designers in their quest to push the style parameters of eyeglasses. And that artist community platform then transpired in outreach to both vendors and retailers plying their talents in order to further instill an attitude of unbridled independence in fostering their commitments to the opti-universe.

And just last year a new layer of engagement and encouragement was iced on to this cake of Independence with the debut of The OPTImum Retail Award wherein Independent Eyewear Retailers tell their stories in words and pictures in order to underscore and therefore score the title as a venerated OPTImum Retailer. The captured moment of the man I call Eyewear’s Best Ambassador, Tarrence Lackran, embracing first-time winner Todd Rogers is a memory I will forever cherish.

This particular 20/20 issue is part of the overall excitement that is Expo in New York, and this season’s panel, OPTImum awarding and cocktail party takes place on Saturday, March 23 on the show floor in late afternoon in a new lounge area designed to “Bridge” the space between The Galleria and the main show floor. The panel is titled “The Freedom of Independence” and is annotated as a chance to… Set your own goals. Define your own destiny. And declare the power of your Independence by moving into the Retailer and Vendor partnership realm of Optical Independents. The Luxury of Eyewear as the Ultimate Accessory awaits a Declaration from you with your unique story.

Vendor panelists include Peter M. Waszkiewicz, Randolph Eyewear CEO and president; Gai Gherardi, l.a.Eyeworks co-founder and co-designer; Nico Roseillier, Europa and State Eyewear creative director; and Rebecca Giefer, Modo Eyewear COO. Retailer panelists represented are Gary Black, Black Optical; Selima Salaun, Selima Optique; and Utenzi Miller, Elegant Eyes.

Most importantly though, I’m hoping to see YOU there declaring your creative freedom and that special dedication to Independents in Eyewear.

James J. Spina
[email protected]