Hello again. Firstly, I would like to apologise for not being in touch sooner. I would also like to welcome all the many new customers we have had the absolute pleasure of meeting over the last few months.
We have had an extremely busy time at The Spectacle Shop, and quite frankly, during Covid there has not been too much of huge interest to tell you. We are pleased to say we have expanded our team. Many of you will have already met her, but Lucy joined us last September. She is a qualified Dispensing Optician, and although still only 23, has 8 years’ experience in eyewear and optics. I’m sure you’ll love her.
NO TIME TO WASTE
Sadly, in December I lost my dad. He was 76 and had suffered from Parkinsons since the age of 50. For me it really hit home that life is short and does not always go to plan. So, without planning or training, in March I decided to jump on a train to Basel, Switzerland with my bicycle. From there I followed the river Rhine all of the way to the Hook of Holland, around 650 miles in total. This was something I had been thinking of doing for a while but had never done anything about it.
I dusted off my bike that I had not used in around 3 years, packed my tent and off I went. I had no idea how far I would be able to ride each day, or if I would be able to cycle every day. In the end I was pleasantly surprised, I managed around 70 miles per day. There was some beautiful scenery.
I was riding through vineyards, small villages, and the occasional large city. It was an ever-changing landscape, and I encountered some amazing wildlife along the way. To name a few, there were red squirrels, wild deer, and storks. The weather unfortunately was not so kind to me. There were days of snow, hail, and wind. I didn’t manage to wear my sunglasses once while I was away, but I did get complemented on my glasses several times.
This trip has given me the desire to get up and see more of the world with my bicycle.
SOMETHING WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR
Three years ago, I wrote to you all to tell you about mine and Dans trip to Milan. At that time, I don’t think any of us would have thought it would be three years until we could make a repeat journey. But this spring we managed to go back, this time with Lucy joining us. The Milan trade show had been sorely missed. I decided that Dan, Lucy and myself would head over for a few days to give us all inspiration and help with team building. I knew what a boost it gave us last time and knew we would get the same boost again.
We arrived at our hotel late at night. As soon as we reached the reception desk we were complimented on our glasses, and the compliment felt extra special as Milan is all about style and fashion.
An early start on Sunday morning soon came and we couldn’t wait to get to the show. As soon as we arrived the hunt started to find the hidden gems. There was a total of 695 exhibitors, so we had our work cut out to look around them all to find that something special that our customers deserve.
One thing that initially stood out to us was the quality of the collections we already had. Looking around it was clear we are already carrying some of the best frames in the world.
And then we found it…
THE NEXT GENERATON OF A FAMILY TRADITION
Alessia spoke very limited English, and in fact had brought her Aunt along to the show to help her see anybody who couldn’t speak Italian. That was lucky for us as we knew two words of Italian between the three of us.
Alessia is a third-generation optician from Turin, where she runs the family’s optical practice. It was here where she was inspired to create her own frame range. And it was truly stunning.
It was clear from the first frame we saw that Alessia had an amazing eye for shape, colour, and design. Her collection is one of plastic frames, each with silk sandwiched between to layers of Italian acetate. Frame after frame was placed on the table in front of us, with each one just as stunning as the last. Every shape was hugely flattering, and the colours were so deep and defined. Every frame looked fantastic when worn.
Every time a new frame was handed to us you could see the passion and excitement in Alessia face. She had enthusiasm like we had never seen before. She then presented us with a frame named after herself and explained this was the first frame she had ever designed. She was so proud of her work she had taken it to a tattoo studio to get an image of it tattooed onto her arm, right in the centre.
We were blown away, and all three of us knew we had to have this collection. While deciding which pieces to order, she explained to us that she was only 23. This was the first eyewear show she had showcased her collection at, and not only are we going to be the first to bring the collection to the UK, but we would also be the first store to carry her frames outside of Italy, and she couldn’t wait.
We left Alessia astounded. This collection is the reason we came to Milan, and at such a young age, Alessia surely has such a bright future in the industry.
A CONFIDENCE BOOST
Later that day Lucy had a first. While still walking around the eyewear show somebody approached her asking for a photo of her as she looked so good in her glasses. I was later approached by another optician asking me about my glasses. He wanted to know the designer as he absolutely loved them. Then, the next morning, Dan and I were sat in the hotel eating breakfast. We were approached by a lady who, in broken English said, “sorry to interrupt, but I just needed to tell you your glasses are fantastic”.
Wearing great glasses really does get you noticed, and the compliments do make you feel good. Recently I have had two customers in their twenties separately tell me that their new glasses have really helped their confidence levels. They had both been receiving positive comments from people about their glasses, and this was something they had not had before.
Wearing glasses can and should be so much more than just having something to see through. They should reflect your personality and enable you to be the person you want to be. After all, they are the first thing people see when they look at you. The further we travel on this journey the more we discover and understand the true impact great eyewear can have. And as customers often say to us, there is not much you use in your life more than your glasses.
IT WASN’T ALL WORK
As I mentioned earlier, I also wanted to use our weekend in Milan for teambuilding. Although it was a very tiring weekend, we still managed to find a couple of nice spots to eat in the evenings. On Tuesday, after all the work was done, we enjoyed a day in Milan centre before our late flight home. I can imagine if you like shopping it is a wonderful city. But for me, the coffee and the food were just outstanding. It seemed to be a city without too many chains of coffee shops and restaurants, where the independents thrive.
I must say, I headed to Milan hoping to find something new and exciting, looking forward to getting away for the first time in a few years, and looking for inspiration for the next steps of our journey.
I have returned with a new understanding of why we do what we do. I am filled with even more reasons to believe that we offer the best eyewear out there. I have also returned with a renewed sense of passion for what we do, and the desire to constantly be looking to improve and find ways to enrich your lives through the world of eyewear.
After all, when you can help people feel more confident and you can put smiles on their faces, what more can you ask for?
I would like to thank all of you who have continued to support us over the last couple of years. We know it hasn’t been easy for anybody, but it is all of you and your words of encouragement that drive our passion for what we do. I also would like to give my condolences to everybody that has suffered a loss over the pandemic, of which I know there are some. It has been a very tough period for many, but hopefully things are now back on the up.
We would also like to say a huge thank you for your online reviews and your recommendations. These especially make a big difference to our business meaning we can keep doing what we love.
As always, please feel free to share this copy of Life in Spectacles with your friends and family.
Take care and see you all soon,