As we come upon the one year anniversary of businesses shutting down due to COVID-19, many of us are reflecting back on the past year. With the number of challenges we all endured, our optical industry has undoubtedly proved how resilient we are. We talked to many optical business owners throughout the pandemic, and one year later, we’re checking in on some of them to see how they’re faring today. Tommasina Pasqua Sideris, OD, owner/optometrist at Eyes on Litchfield in Litchfield, Conn., shares her optimistic update with us.

–Christine Yeh

CY: It's been one year since our country shut down due to the pandemic. What is the outlook for your business one year later?
TPS: It definitely has been an interesting year! We decided to take lemons and make lemonade, and we got creative. Last year, even though we were shut down for two months, we ended up having our highest year yet, being up 37 percent over the previous year. As for the "outlook" now (one year later), we are planning more expansion with bringing on another eye doctor to expand our schedule to help more people with their eyecare needs.

As an independent small business owner, what are some of your lessons learned and/or takeaways from weathering the challenges of the pandemic?
One thing this past year has taught me has been to keep my “eye” on the mountain and to not lose hope. I knew that staying in good communication with my patients was key, and keeping my relationships strong with my fellow business owners in my community was essential to all of us pulling through this. The human spirit is strong, and staying true to my purpose of helping others never wavered.

You're known for your fun TikTok videos celebrating your business and your patients. How have these videos helped your business and can we expect to see more?
Oh yes. Patients have told me that they enjoy the lightheartedness of the videos. There's been so much “seriousness” this past year, that we wanted to remind people that life is still beautiful.

The videos have definitely helped our business in that patients come in as a result and feel like they know me already, which I love! We connect right away at the start of the exam, and sometimes they even ask if they can be part of a video too. Now that brings a smile to my face!

What are some of the things you and your staff are looking forward to the most as we return to near normal?
In June, we will be celebrating our five year anniversary at Eyes On Litchfield. We missed out on having a party last year. So this year, we are looking forward to having some fun outdoors in our courtyard with live music, treats and a trunk show, which also gives us the opportunity to feature other local businesses and independent designers. Because at the end of the day, helping one another and enjoying life is what it's all about for me.