Boutiques

10 questions: Dr Philip + Dr Erica Meltzer, Spectacles of Great Neck

A father and daughter optical enterprise on Long Island (NYC), Spectacles of Great Neck has become one of our favourite retailers to follow on social media. Dr Philip Meltzer opened the business in 1988, with Erica joining in 2022. Their professionalism, quality eyecare service and eyewear offering – presented with an infectious, original energy on Insta reels – are making an impression that goes far beyond the community they serve.  Here we asked them a little bit more about the business and their working life together.

1. Tell us about the store, which I think has quite a few years’ history? How long have you and your father been working together? Philip: Spectacles opened in Great Neck, NY in April of 1988, in a town with four other optical stores. With so many options for patients and customers, I knew I had to set myself apart. From day one, Spectacles has prided itself on excellent customer service and has adapted to meet the needs of a changing Great Neck demographic.

Erica: I graduated SUNY College of Optometry in May of 2022, so I’ve been working with dad for the year since. I also spent a lot of time working with him between undergraduate graduation and the beginning of optometry school, so we’ve fallen into a great groove over the last few years. (Above: Erica wears FACE A FACE and Philip wears J.F. Rey)

2. You have had what appears to have been a fabulous career so far in optics. What has made your working life fulfilling so far? Philip:I started my career in optician school before making my way to optometry school, so from the start I was uniquely positioned to see all of the opportunities an optical career has to offer. Nothing has been more rewarding than giving people the gift of sight. Watching someone experience perfect vision for the first time, or the smile on a child’s face when they successfully learn to wear contacts makes every day special. Now after 35 years, the relationships I’ve built with my patients and my community are so fulfilling. Being alongside them as they experience bat-mitzvahs, weddings, children, grandchildren and more has been a career highlight.

3. How do you enjoy working with your daughter Erica? Philip: When my kids went to college I begged them to take some science classes, just in case they wanted to go into a medical career. They both declined my request so I never expected to be lucky enough to work with either of my kids.  Now with Erica as an optometrist and Max as a veterinarian, it’s safe to say I was right about the science classes. Words cannot express how elated I am to share this career with my daughter. We are learning so much from each other every day, it has renewed my passion for learning. We have always had an incredible father-daughter relationship, and working together has only strengthened that bond. We have such a great time in the office together, and I love introducing my patients to the future of the practice. I am so proud of all the hard work she put in to get here, and so excited for her to have a career as amazing as I’ve had. My only hope is that she loves it as much as I do, and has a successful 35 years like I’ve had.

4. We absolutely love the Spectacles Instagram feed. When did you launch your Reels – what has inspired you to put so much energy and fun into the store social media? Erica: Wow, thank you! It really is a lot of fun. I’ve been working on it for a little under 10 years now, but the reels have really blown up in the last year. I’ve always had a creative side and didn’t necessarily want to part with that even though I’m in a medical profession. I also worked as a social media manager for local businesses throughout college so I’ve watched Instagram grow and evolve from a business perspective over the last decade. I think it’s really important for brands and businesses to showcase themselves on Instagram, and I think with optometry there are so many ways to do it. I love that optometry has a fashion component and a medical component and I didn’t want to stick with just one on Instagram. Some days you’ll see me posting about contact lens hygiene, the next day a stunning pair of glasses, and other days a silly video with dad. We’ve gotten such amazing feedback on it that I don’t think I could slow down! My favorite (and everyone’s favorite) videos are the ones dad and I film together, we get a lot of good laughs out of those. Of course social media is so important for businesses and brands in today’s era, but we really want our page to showcase our personalities and to be authentic to us and our practice.

5. I know that you are working with a wide range of collections. Are you stocking any independent brands and could you tell us which ones and which ones you like best right now? Erica: I think we do a great job at carrying something for everyone! As far as independent brands go we carry: Barton Perreira, FACE A FACE, Dita, Mykita, Matsuda, J.F. Rey, Chrome Hearts, and a few more. We also carry a handful of luxury fashion names, but we have done a great job at taking independent lines and making them the household fashion names that people now come in looking for.

Erica wears Barton Perreira frame

6.  You also have an eye for styling. Is this a natural gift or have you learnt how to do this in the last years? Erica:I have to say I really learned from the best. Watching the frames that dad has picked for people over the years on the first or second try has really taught me so much about how to pick an amazing frame for someone. At this point it comes very naturally to me, and I also try to make it a very collaborative effort with the patient because I want them to truly love their glasses. Now when I work with him I’m secretly trying to be the one to pick the pair that the patient likes best and really become the master!

Hall of Frames Event September 24 2023 at the museum of transport in Lucerne, Switzerland. Click and register your brand now.

7. What are your top tips for styling now as we head into Fall? Erica:We’re seeing some really great colors that are still subtle and wearable even for people who are a little timid when it comes to color. There are some gorgeous rich navy colors, aubergines, and green is still going strong from last season. We’re also seeing thick acetates come back into style, and some really cool rimless metal sunglasses that are awesome unisex pieces.

8. Have you a favorite glasses shape and colour which expresses the new – season look? Erica: I’m really loving this piece from Barton Perreira (pictured above) and also an aubergine-toned Fendi (below right) with a gold temple detail. The bold cat-eyes are where it’s at for me right now.

9. Will you shortly be travelling to Vision Expo West or Silmo? Erica: As of right now, we don’t have plans to! After Vision Expo East in March we added a new fundus camera to the practice and don’t currently have our eyes on more medical equipment. As far as frame buying goes, while we do love to walk the shows we usually put all of our effort into Vision Expo East since it’s right in our backyard. But who knows, as it gets closer we might just use it as an excuse for a vacation!

Left: Erica wears Chrome Hearts frame in matt gray, right: Erica wears Fendi

10. On Instagram you have launched a super Frame Friday highlight. We spotted you in the CHROME HEARTS grey-toned optical which looked stunning. Do you have this photo to share and would this be a frame you would wear and for what type of occasion? Erica: I’m having a lot of fun with New Frame Friday! People always ask when we are getting new stuff in and the answer is truly every day. I love being able to pick a frame that came in during the week and show people an exciting new piece. Chrome Hearts is always easy to get excited about. Their attention to detail and the edginess of their frames is so different from what other companies are doing. That matte gray piece is definitely cool, I think for my personal style I’d wear that to elevate a basic outfit, like jeans, a white t-shirt and a leather jacket this fall. I also think it would look amazing with a transition lens in the gray/silver mirror, or as a full sunglass. It’s slightly big on me so I don’t know if you’ll see it in my repertoire anytime soon but I’m still itching for my first pair of Chrome Hearts.

80, Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, NY, USA

https://www.spectaclesgn.com / @spectaclesgn

10 questions: G is for Glasses, Winnipeg

A strikingly modern approach to the optical retail world, G is for Glasses is a long overdue injection of fun, inclusivity and colour. Celebrating their fast-approaching 10th anniversary, Eyestylist was delighted to sit down with the creative, driven and exciting team in discussing their story, plans for the future and more.

Tell us a little bit about the road you took to establish G is for Glasses. Manitoba highway 309 was the literal road that led us to creating G is for Glasses; that road takes you to Big Whiteshell Lake in Manitoba and the location of Jessie’s family cottage. Over some chilled Chardonnay and a thrilling game of Scrabble, we decided to open an optical shop. Jessie is an optometrist and had been practicing for 5 years in Winnipeg – she just didn’t see herself long term in any of the existing offices, but saw the potential of independent opticals in other cities. Bonni had never worked in optical before, however with 20ish years in retail she was certain she could sell some spectacles and had creative ideas for days. We were both at the point in our careers where we needed a change, so we decided to take the plunge and start our own thing. We are cousins, so focusing on smaller independent brands was an easy choice to maintain the family roots of our business. Above: The G Girls, Jessie and Bonni, the creators of G is for Glasses, a friendly, neighbourhood independent optical store

G is for Glasses is located in Winnipeg

What is it about your brand that sets it apart from the rest? We set out to open a shop that was more than just a place to get your eyes checked and to buy a pair of glasses: we wanted to create a glasses culture that was inclusive to all humans. We are very passionate about independent eyewear as well as educating our customers and patients about the value of the design, skill and process that goes into each frame we sell. Our brand is not just our store but an extension of ourselves. We totally embrace being referred to as “The G Girls” and 100% endorse our shop simply being called “G”. When our clients are asked where they bought their glasses, they just don’t answer with G is for Glasses but talk about the experience, the people and our shop’s environment. Nothing builds a brand faster than word of mouth, and Winnipeggers love to chat.

Who is someone you see as aspirational or inspirational in terms of design? Hard to narrow it down to one, but if we are looking at something new and fresh that we are super into these days it is VADA Eyes. Katie Caplener and her team are doing exciting things over at VADA, using her jewelry background and sourcing of vintage acetates. Their colours are vibrant and their shapes are hitting new limits. Straight up a banger of a collection and brand, these ladies are true Kauboi’s (IYKYK) in the landscape of our industry.

How do you identify and define your customer base? We have a super wide and diverse range of clientele, but we do take pride in having created a safe space for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Is there a specific process you take to select the brands or frames you stock in-store? It’s a combination of talking to our friends in the industry, talking to our clients, snooping and engaging on social media and going to the shows (especially European shows). It’s an ongoing process making sure we have brands we believe in, having a good array of designs and also not being afraid to make mistakes.

What pair of frames, if any, illustrates your personality best? If you mean G is for Glasses: anything orange. If you mean Jessie: anything neon. If you mean Bonni: the bigger the better.

KIRK & KIRK
Interior: G is for Glasses

Do you think social media is an integral part of owning an eyewear boutique these days? Maintaining a solid social media presence is still a great way to set yourself apart and show people why they should shop with you and be a part of what you have created. We use our outlets more to show people who we are, show us having fun behind the scenes of G and what is happening in our community, while sprinkling in all the beautiful eyewear that is arriving in the shop on a regular basis.

Would you rather: extravagance or minimalism? Impossible to answer, we love both! In terms of brands, our top sellers would fall under the more minimal classic design category, but we are always drawn to the wild extravagant frames and want them on our shelves no matter what.

Do you have any exciting news or updates on the horizon? We opened our business after working zero days in optical sales, so as we approach our 10th birthday we are going to fully renovate the optical area. We have done a few small-to-medium updates as we learned the flow of our shop, but need to go bigger now. We have new ideas, coupled now with a ton of experience, to make design changes that will keep G feeling fresh and provide an even better customer experience.

What is the big dream for G is for Glasses? Simple – just make this a place we want to keep coming back too. Nothing complicated. We opened G because we both wanted to enjoy coming to work, so our big dream is to keep the ship sailing, keep it evolving, always having fun.

G is for Glasses, 3-1176 Taylor Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3M 3Z4

Find out more about the store at www.gisforglasses.com / An interview feature written by Victoria G. L. Brunton exclusively for Eyestylist.com.

Lunettes Alf in Rotterdam pop-up

The French brand has launched a pop-up at the independent store, Blick Brillen

The Paris-based eyewear label Lunettes Alf has launched its first pop-up with Blick, the optical store which has a dedicated store space for partner brands. Above: the exterior of the Blick Brillen in Rotterdam

The Lunettes ALF collection is highlighted at Blick Brillen

ALF’s collection was launched in store at a party event on 30th June, and is now on display for 3 months, featuring optical models and sunglasses from across the collection.

DIFFUSER Tokyo

Exploring the classical elegance of French-made acetate glasses, Lunettes Alf is inspired by classical timeless frames of the past, and uses exclusive high-quality Japanese materials in combination with anti-reflective photochromic mineral glasses and genuine leather cord and case. The label was created by two brothers, Germain and Alexis Bouchara, in Paris in 2018.

Pannekoekstraat 37A, 3011 LC Rotterdam For more information visit https://blick.nl/nl/home / www.lunettes-alf.com

New opening: Seeana Black Store, Aveiro, Portugal

Seeana’s second store in Aveiro is dedicated to bold, beautiful fashion eyewear

The Portuguese eyewear store Seeana has opened a second store in the city of Aveiro, north of Lisbon. Inaugurated in June 2023, the new boutique, which features striking, full-height glass windows, launches with a handpicked selection of independent and more mainstream eyewear brands, chosen for a discerning customer who is looking for something different and unique. Above: the exterior of the newly opened Seeana Black store 

Interior of the new Seeana Black: independent brands available include the Porto-based eyewear brand, VAVA

The new store features a large, open retail space with wooden floors, sleek industrial furnishings and glass fronted displays, with plenty of space to try on frames in a well-lit and well presented showroom.

Interior: high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows characterise the interior space, where customers can try on frames in a comfortable light space, equipped with small tables

Specialists in optics and eyecare, Seeana dates back to 1995 and represents a leading optical retailer in the city of Alveiro, offering state-of-the-art optometry and optical care with emphasis on a high-quality, customised service adapted to the individual needs of the customer.

The new store is located at Alameda Silva Rocha, 72, Alveiro, Portugal. Photography by Nuno Freire – mind.art | photography. To find out more about the shop visit www.seeanaeyewear.com

Ahlem has opened in Paris

The new boutique is located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

Ahlem Manai-Platt, the Paris-born designer behind eponymous eyewear label Ahlem, brings her chic eyewear vision to Paris, with the opening of her own branded store. The new boutique is her first in Europe and fourth globally – joining sister stores in Venice California, NYC’s Nolita and San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Above: the store front of the new Ahlem boutique in Paris

Ahlem: Paris store

AHLEM’s Paris store is located at 9 rue du Dragon in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, an historic culturally rich neighbourhood known for its upscale shopping and dining experiences. The interior, imagined by Stockholm-based design agency Specific Generic, draws inspiration from the aesthetic encounter between two of Ahlem Manai-Platt’s favorite modernists: Constantin Brâncuși and Isamu Noguchi. Using Noguchi’s 1927 drawing “Paris Abstraction” as a reference point, the interior has been designed to balance voids and built structures,  incorporating natural materials such as glass, walnut, metal, concrete and plaster. Elements of craftsmanship, including sculpted plaster and hammered wood, are also featured. The space also features an ultra-luxurious “boudoir de marque” conceived as an intimate refuge for custom frames, individual consultations and private viewings. According to the designer, the new store establishes a brand presence in Ahlem Manai- Platt’s hometown and current city of residence, which has been a fundamental creative influence on her work from the very beginning. For more details about the brand visit www.ahlemeyewear.com / Photography by Michael A. Bandassak  

Orgreen

9 rue du Dragon, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, France