Listen up! Opticians, eyewear stylists, and ECPs. This profession is yours. But what do you want to make of it? Thinking back on the year of self branding, I feel I’ve come a long way and I want to share with you what I’ve learned—the good, the bad, and the ugly. This road to personal branding and a search for some spotlight was not an easy one. But it worked for me through dedication and motivation.
I want to start out by saying, there’s so much opportunity in this industry to become something bigger. I looked up to others before realizing this is really about ME, who I AM, and what I want to make of it. I learned to take the good with the bad. And that goes for you too, meaning: You want people to know YOU for what YOU do in your industry. So, do you have what it takes, and is this really for you? These are questions you have to ask yourself. Once you start, you have to keep going. You’ll gain followers and visibility. With that, any wrong move you make will be watched and may jeopardize your name or what people think of you…in the end, for me, it was all worth it.
Know your brand.
Who is the Optical Goddess? I get asked this a lot and it’s an important question—My brand is about independent eyewear awareness, industry support, eyewear styling, and inspiring authenticity. I see myself as a public figure, and my instagram page represents that. So, who are you and why are you starting your brand? I hear often that people want to start a social media presence to ‘get free products’ like myself. If this is your ultimate goal, then this might not be right for you. I’ll get into that more later.
I didn’t get to my brand overnight. My instagram started out as just a personal page, not a business one. I’ve always been GODDESSOFOPTIX—but back then I rarely posted anything optical. Then, I started to follow one of the Doctors I worked with, Dr. Fartash. Most of you know her as GLAMOPTOMETRIST. I sat down and scrolled her page to see, for lack of better words, optical fabulousness. She posted great photos sharing not just a fabulous life but informational content. I saw someone to look up to. This person had created a brand that was truly her, found a niche. I wanted that, but how?
I discovered it was all about putting myself out there. As I’ve mentioned before, if you have the idea that you’re just interesting and people should like you without putting in the work, you’ve got it all wrong. When I first started out, I had the idea to share my love for eyewear and eye-cessories by posting selfies in my eyewear that I’ve collected over the years. A lot of people have the misconception that a selfie is just a quick snap of yourself. Its all about the right lighting, the good angels for your face and size - knowing how to make the product you’re showing off be the viewpoint along with yourself. These days, selfies are work! I’d also post little nicknacks here and there, eyewear inspired. I used my inspiration to motivate me to create something of my own…I didn’t crave to be like those who inspired me, but I wanted people to SEE ME for my passion and what I love. And that’s a key point in this branding journey, BE INSPIRED - BUT DO IT ON YOUR OWN TERMS AND NOT ANYBODY ELSE’S.
However, listen to people trying to help you out. Someone told me that the 9 photos that show up when someone sees your instagram page should tell a story. They should describe who you are, what you are, and what you do. At first, that discouraged me a bit. Creating a story with social media can be difficult. But it’s really all about creating something that stands out, something authentic and appealing to the masses. I switched my page around 3 times before I came up with something…and thats OK. The good news is, you can now archive your photos on instagram instead of deleting them. Sometimes this helps you customize your page layout so you can see different photos next to each other, or even just taking out the old, but not deleting it forever. I learned sometimes I have to switch it up to find what works for me.
Know your audience.
When starting my social media presence, I didn’t set out to receive products from brands. I didn’t even set out to be featured in magazines, I just knew I wanted people to see how passionate I am about my line of work and I wanted to inspire people. I love eyewear, styling, and also helping ECPs through my writing and my point of view. So my photos and posts reflected that. If it was all about free products for me, well we carry some great lines in my office. I could’ve taken some eyewear home, popped out the lenses, and pretended they’re mine to promote a brand. But that’s not authentic and it wouldn’t attract the audience I’m seeking. It’s crucial that you know your brand category and that others know it too.
Visibility means people are watching you—for better or worse.
Shit got real for me last year. Without getting into too much detail, I exchanged some words with the admins of Opticians of Facebook—aka OOF. There was a post mentioning race, and I may have called out some folks in the optical community and shared my not-so-censored opinions about them. What can I say, I’m short tempered and opinionated. I hate seeing unjust things happen, I hate racial posts on optical forums and how people deal with them. However, I’ve learned I should probably not get in the middle of them from now on.
Sometimes when you’re in the spotlight, you have to watch what you say and how you say it. There are consequences to being so visible. After my little OOF rant, I lost about 40 facebook friends and even more followers on instagram. I received over 10 messages from people along the lines of ‘’HOW COULD YOU’’ and then I realized…Most people aren’t going to understand my point of view on this topic, nor did I need them to. It was a personal opinion outside of optical that some of my audience didn’t appreciate. I was putting people in a place to chose a side and with me being new to the scene, it wasn’t in my favor. This taught me that when you have a brand, you have to know when and what to say out loud on social media. Some of those people who unfollowed and unfriended me, I thought were real friends—real supporters. But when my brand is supposed to be about optical and my love for it, shaming people for not having the same perspective just doesn’t fit in. I learned to keep it professional, to not let everything turn into a huge thing, and to speak to people directly when I have a problem. Because my brand and my audience are both important. My following is 60% optical industry. My niche is optical, everything outside of that doesn’t really matter because I do it for my audience at the end of they day. Keeping your audience interested is key, and making sure they see you as a well-rounded, respected, and respectful human is another.
Never be content!
My last thought—In the world of social media, the minimum is never enough. You want your brand to constantly grow. It took me a whole year to get to 6k followers. The first 3 months I was making 1k a month. It’s slowed down and grew more authentically as my content started to make more sense to the community. Now I have a consistent growth record… I’ve created a brand, switched up my content and made it my own. To the outside world it seems like there’s some kind of trick. But its all on you and how to choose to make your branding your own. You can never be content. Sometimes what you did at first stops working. You’ve got to keep finding innovative ways to gain more of a following, you’ve got to engage and get to know your audience. Being in the spotlight hasn’t been all fun and games, but it’s taught me a lot about myself and given me all the inspiration to keep going. I hope my words offer some kind of support or give insight to what I’ve done to get where I am now. I’ve given you some tools, it up to you what you’re going to do with them.
January 10th 2019
Ah. The new year is approaching and we all know what that means. New Year’s Resolutions & #NewYearNewMe hashtags. A lot of us go through the year dreaming and developing ideas for the future and once December comes around, we tend to jump on this idea that a New Year is a fresh start and time for new opportunity, a time to work on something you’ve been procrastinating...A time to announce your next new idea. I’m here to say: keep that momentum going all year round!
When it comes down to it, these resolutions are things we could be doing all year round. New Year’s Resolutions can be super stressful and create expectations that are too high. Most of us want to bring in the new year with a fresh perspective and clear vision. So, if you want to start your blog or instagram, do it! But don’t go in with the highest expectation that you’ll successfully create an instagram account with a lot of followers and publish your new blog with a lot of page viewers. These expectations hurt when they don’t come to fruition, and it’s so much better when you do something because you genuinely wanted to and worked hard on it. Don’t just do it to meet a big goal that could potentially be unrealistic. In other words, there’s no need to reinvent yourself to be successful.
New year, new me? What does that mean anyway?! The start of a new year is more so a continuing chapter...not a new book. I believe when we accept that a New Year is about continuous time, then we can accept ourselves as we are and not become a new person, but a better version of ourselves. Just add a new chapter.
Along with that, stop procrastinating. Look, I know what you’re thinking. The audacity I have to say such a claim, when I haven’t updated my blog for months. But that’s exactly why I say it. This is something I’m continuously working on...it’s hard, I know! But think about how much you can accomplish when you just do those things you envision. When you find time for yourself to achieve these goals!
New opportunity is always around us... change your perspective and you will see...
When you look in the mirror what do you SEE?Take this time, as we come into this new year, to reflect on (but not obsess!) over some of the mistakes you’ve made or goals that weren’t exceeded. The time is right now, not January 1st, to make some personal changes. Don’t be so hard on yourself, it’s OK. And there’s always time while you’re alive to “Carpe Diem!”
Autianna aka Optical Goddess
December 31st 2018
One of the most rewarding parts about being an optician is not just giving people the gift of clear sight but making them a happier person. I enjoy every part of this process from styling to discussing lenses. But once we find the perfect pair, it’s the smile upon my patients’ faces that really makes it all worth it. I LOVE seeing others’ joy. I also enjoy taking people out of their comfort zone and allowing them to see the beauty in themselves. It’s super rewarding to see a patient this happy in something different that I helped them choose, something they wouldn't otherwise choose for themselves.
As ECPs, mainly opticians and eyewear stylists, it’s crucial that we understand that what the patient or client thinks they want isn't what they will always get. Our customers will tell us their idea of what they want and the style they see themselves in, but it’s OUR responsibility to point them in the right direction. Sometimes, that’s nowhere near their comfort zone. I know there’s a time and a place for everything, and you may feel like someone working in a conservative office just can't do with the funky and can only do classic, minimal pieces…NOT TRUE!
For me, frame styling is a mixture of getting to know your patient’s lifestyle, personality and then judging them yourself. Don't be afraid to take them outside of the box. What do you have to lose? Not a sale, and let me tell you why…
MY SECRET TO SELLING *
I give customers what they want to see, something slightly different, and then something that’s completely opposite of what they said they wanted. This helps with gaining your customers’ trust. They see you’ve listened to them and that you've taken the time to find other options for them as well. People enjoy a customized experience and it’s our job to give it to them!
As an example, here are 3 frames that could potentially be selected for the same customer. * Patient is a younger mid 30's lawyer who likes to keep it classy. She wants to be taken serious in her field, but also wants people to know she's got style. She plans to wear her frames at work, home and occasionally going out. -- These are the kind of people who need a good versatile frame. Versatility doesn't mean boring... I would first pull the Salt Tina frame in black which is modern and classic with soft feminine angles. Secondly, I'd pull the Oliver Peoples Arella in black which is a sexy vintage inspired cat eye, this frame can make a bold statement but it can easily be worn with confidence. Lastly, I'd pull the l.a Eyeworks Horse shoe in the color turtle split, this frame is a lot of fun - its larger and deeper but since its thin it won't take up to much of the face; Sophisticated in design and color this frame would be a perfect pair to the early 30 year old woman who craves to show an equal balance of seriousness in her field but glamour in her style.
Try doing this next time you're doing a frame selection. Let me know how it goes. Watch how the experience becomes more personalized and the patient has more fun choosing glasses. For some people, this can be a stressful process. Do the work, let them know what looks good and why. Make sure its memorable and see them come back for me! xoxo
JULY 10TH 2018
LOOKSIE OPTOMETRY x OPTICAL GODDESS
LEARNING FROM THE OPTICAL HUSTLE!
So what up with this optical hustle I’ve been talking about all over social media? The optical hustle is for those of us who strive to be better ECPs. For those of us who are tired of working the same 9 to 5 but can't seem to leave it, who enjoy the refreshing feeling of a different office. And (also/especially) for those of us who want to own their own optical business, so we need perspective and knowledge from different owners. And I'd be a fool to forget, the optical hustle is for the real hustlers out there who could never turn down an extra dollar.
If you’re anything like me it can be hard to stay content in your position at work. We all know that work can be extremely stressful sometimes, even if we love it, and the optical hustle is no different. We’re having to deal with double the amount of patients the doctor sees, angry progressive wearers, the never ending non-adapt and the indecisive person who comes in every week for over an hour and still can’t make up their mind. To top it all off, we sometimes just don't get along with our bosses and need a break from that same ol’ environment.
I don’t know about you, but I literally have days where I can barley make it in, and it’s simply because I’M TIRED OF IT. Come on, we all have those days. I’m grateful for my career, but I DO get so bored with it…And it’s not optical as a whole, but little things in my office that get to me. Doing the same thing, looking at the same frames, knowing a frame that would be perfect on a patient but not having it in the store. Anyways, when I do feel that my job is getting me down or I’m having a hard week, a change of scenery always helps!
Since I crave so badly to be a business owner, I found that working for other offices has helped me a bunch. I definitely think it’s important to do your own research on owning your own business. But what’s been beneficial to growing my business sense has been working for other offices, especially in offices that inspire me or give me motivation to work for myself. Currently, outside of working my full-time job, I am working at Looksie Optometry. The office is legit, #opticalgoals. The diverse and in-depth collection of independent eyewear along with the aesthetics of the store bring me so much happiness and inspiration. Dr. Tran of Looksie Optometry knew exactly what she was doing when she opened up her practice. The store has an optical art galley vibe and the way she does her merchandising and visuals really captures each patients interest, from the outside looking in, you feel like a kid looking in the window of a candy store—you must go in. And that’s the vibe that I enjoy. It’s so refreshing after a long stressful week at work to work in her office and just feel a vibrant environment.
This is not to downplay my current role as an lead optician and buyer. I love what I do and I’m very happy with it. But I know that for me to be happy, I must continue to learn and be inspired and motivated. After a while, I start feeling bored with my environment and switching it up on the weekend and learning a new and different way to do business has been super helpful. Not to mention, the extra pay I'm getting from my side job is put away in my savings for my future store!
All in all, the Optical Hustle is a movement I've created for my myself to stay inspired and stay determined to being able to afford and successfully open my own optical. I hope this has inspired some of you to try this. It’s the little things, like ending your work week at a place that really inspires you that makes your 6 day work week worth it.
JUNE 27TH 2018
Pushing the Bar With Ophthalmic Expertise
Let’s talk about getting creative with lenses beyond just styling our patients in amazing frames. A bold way to express your patient’s style through eyewear is not just in the frame selection, but in the lens choices as well… Its time to push the bar! Conversation pieces no longer stop at the frame itself, but in the lenses too!
As an optician I spend a lot of my time styling people in amazing eyewear. After that I normally go over lens choices with the patient. It’s important to find the option that’s best for their lifestyle and everyday needs! We as opticians recommend anti-glare coating to all our patients, and oftentimes even give them the option of transition lenses (lenses that react with UV rays to create a nice, protective tint in the sun). But why stop there? I think its time we really take our expertise to the next level and give our patients more choices with lenses. Tinted lenses aren't always for sunny days, but for people with general light sensitivity or dyslexia. Of course, they make a great fashion statement too!
I’ve been experimenting a lot with lens tints and have been pretty happy with the results. Pictured above is me on the right and Brett from Garrett Leight on the left. We’re both wearing our everyday pairs. Im wearing a CR39 digital lens with a 1.5 base curve, purecoat ar, 1/2 of a blue 1 solid tint, transitions signature grey and a silver flash mirror! Brett is wearing a Badass Lab 1.60, 1.5 base with deadstock Zeiss GET (gold ar) with a baby blue gradient tint. Our distinctive frames and lenses create a conversation with the public, making others ask, ‘’What type of lenses are those?’’ and creating an opportunity to educate them. Not only that, but even with a tint, they look really good indoors! I totally get that tinted lenses aren't for everyone; like a lawyer couldn't walk around in the courtroom wearing a thick black cat-eye frame with a soft rose-gradient lens and be taken seriously…BUT, that’s why there’s back up pairs, which I promise to talk about another time…Anyways, I think it’s time for us to explore more lens tints and coating combinations! I think in doing this, you'll create a fun, experimental experience with your customer, and they will be as excited as you are to see the result. In 2018 and beyond, eyewear styles are going to constantly change and recycle. Let’s create some amazing lenses that will be remembered in the future!
FEB 24TH 2018
FEB 3rd 2018
FLEA MARKET FRAMES? YEAH RIGHT...
I’m obsessed with flea market finds lately. I’ve taken an interest in hunting for copycat, ‘'knock off'' designer eyewear. Although the quality and feel of these frames are so, so cheap, these frames are great visual duplicates to match very expensive high fashion eyewear. Having these $5.00 duplicates gives everyone the chance to rock rad glasses without having to spend too much. Because lets be real, not everyone can afford the real thing...And this Optical Goddess will never be too good for a duplicate or a ''fake''. Good fashion doesn't have to be expensive. Express yourself however, and if you can do it on a budget, then good for you!
I’m super excited to start researching cheaper options for frame choices to share with you all! I do want to make it very clear that these frames are for fashion purposes only. And, unless otherwise stated by an eye care professional, I wouldn't suggested getting prescription lenses in them. Cheaper frames like these have a high breakage rate during lens insertion.
FEB 1ST 2018
SUNGLASSES TURNED INTO OPHTHALMIC FRAMES!
Ophthalmic frames are glasses that normally have clear lenses. On a shelf at a glasses store, the ophthalmic frames are the ones that are clear, sunglasses are tinted lenses. Ophthalmic frames can be expensive, and often the options are limited. That’s why I sometimes find a sunglass frame that works for my face shape and see if I can make it work with prescription lenses. That brings me to these Chanel frames I’m wearing in the photo above, the CHANEL 4227Q col. C124Z. More on those in a bit. I’m always on the lookout for what’s new in eyewear and how brands are evolving. Chanel is an iconic brand known for their timeless designs in fashion. Lately I’ve been admiring Chanel for stepping outside of their signature looks and going for new, chic, and trendy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to stay true to the roots, but fashion evolves based on brands exploring what’s new and exciting right now. I admire designers who have the ability to grow, but never lose their original vision. Chanel has mastered this and I, as the Optical Goddess, am truly proud!
Getting back to the topic at hand—how do you turn sunglasses into ophthalmic frames? Well, for me personally I enjoy the look of a large frame. That’s why I find myself navigating to a sunglass frame a lot. I think it just makes more of a statement on me. The Chanel frames I'm wearing above come with a really nice polarized grey gradient lens! Since I like the look of them as sunglasses and clear, I thought to myself: ''How can I do both?'' The best decision to achieve both looks was to do a clear lens with a good anti-reflective coating and add transition lenses. An anti-reflective coating reduces glare and enhances the cosmetic look of the frame. Transition lenses allow me to achieve a cute, clear lens for indoors, and then as soon as I step outside, the lens reacts to the UV light of the sun and turns into a beautiful grey. Although this does not make up for having a really nice set of polarized sunglass lenses, I still get the look I want and a decent amount of UV protection! The best of both optical worlds :)
JAN 30th 2018
THE MOST VALUABLE QUESTION
DO WHAT YOU LOVE OR DO WHAT PAYS?
As a young adult, I've thought a lot about this question. You're probably wondering why I think this is the most valuable question? Well, there is something to be gained from this—hear me out. I want to share my perspective and my story with you all. The main reason this is such a valuable question is simply because whatever you choose to do, your future is at stake so you must choose wisely. Do what you love? Do what pays?
Let’s say you do what pays...think about how life might be as you travel down the road of '' MONEY AND HAP....TEMPORARY HAPPINESS ''. Because it’s safe to say that money doesn't buy happiness. We can look at some Hollywood stars as an example of this (ie Amy Winehouse, the money and fame did not bring her happiness.) We see some with all that money, living their best lives, while others struggle to find happiness. We're not talking about 60k or even 100k a year, we're talking about millions of dollars and still being completely unhappy. Do you ever wonder why? Maybe they started young and their parents pushed them to do it, or maybe they were just really good at performing and then after fame, it got really overwhelming? I realize that some of these people were once happy with what they do, but can we assume that after a while...the money means nothing and sometimes there's other things they'd rather be doing with their time?
So, maybe you should do what you love? You want to open your own store/ boutique. You've got no money to do it, you won’t be designing the product sold in your store, but you love to style people! Unfortunately, you feel like there's no way to reach this goal unless you either A. Win the lottery or B. Get someone to invest in your idea. What do you do? You don't want to go to school for business - you think its a waste of time... What other options do you really have? This is when reality sets in. Unless you're rich AF, you've got to work your way up. Your idea and concept might be amazing, but does that actually mean you'd be ready for it, if it was handed to you? Probably not...And why do we want things to happen for us so easily? Why do we want people to do it for us? I see so much beauty in the process of growth and you should too! Don't rush it!
Doing what you love and doing what pays are one and the same. But you’ve got to work hard for both and be committed to the big goal.
I know you've heard of the saying ''started from the bottom. '' Well that’s probably the realest statement i've ever heard! Once I fell passionately in LOVE with optical, I knew I wanted to be a business owner. I learned business strategies from various employers, brainstormed many ideas and felt like I had it all planned out. I just needed one thing, the money to do it. And honestly, I still do!
A little backstory on my life is that I worked my first optical job at LensCrafters making $10. I got the hookup to working there because my mom was the regional manager with Luxottica. Working at LC supported me with my bigger goal at the time and that was to be a famous photographer. I left LC to attend art college in Baltimore at Maryland Institute College of Art. I really wanted to be a famous editorial fashion photographer, so art college was the best route for me to take to achieve that. Surprisingly, I spent one year in college and ended up leaving because I didn't feel fulfilled anymore. As you can see, I cannot do ANYTHING unless I'm passionate about it 100%! I wasn't making any money, people weren't as interested in my work as they were before college and I felt super intimidated by all the other amazing art students. So I left, the passion was gone and I went back to working in optical. It was there, at LC that I felt like I was doing what I really enjoyed and I was making money doing it…
As I grew with LensCrafters and became more knowledgeable in what I was doing, that $10 was not enough anymore. Was it time to give up my new passion and find something else that would pay better? I really questioned my journey so many times and thought about finding a new career path. I felt like I wasn't making good money anymore, people didn't appreciate me for what I was doing and there were so many other opticians around me who were older and wiser and making better money than me. I again felt intimidated. But this time, because I was older, I used that intimidation to motivate me...and the doubt that I once had became hopeful thoughts. I was determined to be great. I was motivated by those around me who were doing better and I asked questions about how they got to where they were, plus took real mental notes.
The process of growth is really essential to your success. You have to learn how to master turning your negative thoughts into positive ones, be able to understand that nothing comes easy in life and accept the journey. Most people have to work really hard to be successful. I've second guessed myself and talked myself out of dreaming big multiple times. Slowly but surely I learned more, did more and gained more. Sometimes doing what you love and getting the pay you deserve seems extremely unattainable, but I'm here to say now, that its not. I've worked hard to be where I am today and it wasn't easy—plus I've still got a long way to go and more knowledge to gain! But accepting the process was the first step.