Innovators

By


Caroline Curry

COFOUNDER AND HEAD OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND COMMUNICATIONS
Frameri
Cincinnati, Ohio

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Caroline makes sure that every single Frameri customer has an amazing and happy experience and personally reaches out to everyone to see if they have any questions. She’s a big part of the reason customers love buying from Frameri.”

“I am inspired by change and the people that lay the groundwork to allow that change to happen. Being a visionary and imagining how things could be is fantastic, but actually getting in there, working and creating that change— that is something special,” said Caroline Curry, co-founder of the innovative interchangeable frames and lenses system company, Frameri.

“Frameri is my first experience in optical. I was intrigued by the challenge of creating something new. From the beginning, I knew our founder, Konrad Billetz, wanted to build a product that had the customer in mind. Even before we had the frames and lenses system figured out, we knew the idea was solid.”

Two years in and Curry has figured out some important things. “The optical business should function with the customer in mind. That should be true when it comes to pricing, style offerings, convenience and customer service. Optical businesses should strive for innovation and change, but still within the goal of making things better for people on a daily basis,” she concluded.

SHE SAYS… “Don’t be intimidated by those that have decades of experience in optical. You can learn from them and start a career in this industry at any point. Having passion for your work will take you far.”


Weslie M. Hamada, OD, FAAO

PRINCIPAL RESEARCH OPTOMETRIST
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
Jacksonville, Florida

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She made the leap from private practice to successful contact lens researcher at J&J, and is past president of the Hawaii Optometric Association.”

As a second-generation optometrist, Weslie Hamada gained an insider’s view of the optical world at an early age. Her first job was working in her father’s ophthalmic supply distribution company, and she was inspired by the efforts of her father and his colleagues in moving the optometric profession forward. After graduating in 2001 from Marshall B. Ketchum University School of Optometry (SCCO), Hamada worked in private practice for 11 years in Oahu, Hawaii.

In 2013, Hamada changed career paths and entered the corporate world, joining Johnson & Johnson Vision Care as a research optometrist responsible for the clinical development of astigmatism contact lens products. “Joining JJVC has made me feel like a student again. I am learning from experts such as optical engineers, scientists and chemists, which helps to make me a better clinician in the long run.” Hamada points out the similarities between patient care and product research in providing positive outcomes for patients. “When I was actively practicing, I helped make a difference with patients by educating them about eye health. Now, I am developing products to improve their vision and their lifestyles. That’s exciting.”

SHE SAYS… “Discover the leader within. We are leaders in our workplaces, our communities, our churches and our households. We all have these qualities but sometimes fail to recognize them.”


Amy Larson

VP, MARKETING & ECOMMERCE
Glasses.com division of Luxottica
Draper, Utah

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She developed game-changing industry technologies such as virtual try-on for apps, and she is also developing e-commerce for independent doctors working with EyeMed and Luxottica wholesale.”

In marketing and e-commerce for 15 years, 11 of those in optical, Amy Larson has won numerous awards and presented at many industry events. For Glasses.com, she achieved the following last year—drove a 40 percent increase in revenue with a 50 percent decrease in the marketing budget, oversaw the successful rebranding of Glasses.com, and replatformed on a new e-commerce engine in six weeks.

She advises women in the field, “Nothing can help you more than being authentic. Be bold and true to who you are. Don’t allow yourself to be limited by gender, age or ethnicity. Different perspectives are what make this industry interesting and fun.”

Among her current challenges are changing people’s perspectives about glasses from “must wear” to “love to wear,” she said. “Like shoes, glasses serve a functional purpose, but they shouldn’t be limited to that. Embrace them as another way to express who you are.”

She described one way she hopes to achieve this: “I constantly strive to see the process through the eyes of the customer and use that to shape the direction for everything we do.”

SHE SAYS… “I can make a difference by supporting our vision, inspiring and empowering through self-expression, and our mission, which is to change the way the world sees glasses.”


Jennifer Lyerly, OD

AUTHOR AND EDITOR
Eyedolatry Blog
Cary, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Jennifer’s website is a great hub for patient friendly ocular health resources, as well as comprehensive guides and tips for new ODs on topics ranging from scleral lens fitting to vision therapy.”

Every time patients or readers of her blog, Eyedolatry, comment that they’ve learned something about their eyes or health, Jennifer Lyerly, OD feels re-energized by the optometric profession. After graduating from Southern College of Optometry in 2011, Lyerly has been practicing at Triangle Visions Optometry as well as running her blog full time. Additionally, she is a member of the AOA, the North Carolina State Optometric Society and currently serves as the Cary District Key Person for the NCSOS Eastern district.

Running a growing blog and working in the field isn’t easy, and although she doesn’t consider herself the most technical writer, her blog’s success comes from her ability to allow readers to easily understand the more complicated aspects of eyecare. “My goal with Eyedolatry is to give people a starting place to learn more in a format that’s not intimidating and open to discussion,” she said.

“As long as you find yourself doing something that you love, you will be successful because passion is the driving force that keeps you going, even when you are tired or stressed,” she said.

SHE SAYS… “In the next decade of optometry we won’t be just ‘women in optometry.’ The numbers are clear that we will be optometry, and I can’t wait to see how the industry changes with more of our voices being heard.”


Connie Reiss

WORLDWIDE BUSINESS UNIT MANAGER
Columbia Eyewear
L’Amy America
Wilton, Connecticut

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “Connie is passionate and works tirelessly on behalf of her brand. She assiduously analyzes the data from her brand and the eyewear market to explore new opportunities to expand her business.

“I’ve been in the eyewear business for 17 years. Wow, that’s a long time,” said Connie Reiss. “When on a roll of the dice, I moved to Miami and without much buying experience I got a job at Sunglass Hut responsible for over $90 million in sales.”

“Now, among other corporate marketing responsibilities, my primary function is global brand manager for Columbia Eyewear,” she explained. “I also help secure and develop new brands for L’Amy America’s portfolio. A brand manager must always have a clear, end-goal product or brand vision and then work backward to achieve it. I am incredibly persistent/stubborn and am not afraid to get dirty and work hard.”

That attitude has served her well. “The universe always reminds me, I am only as old as I feel. The limitations I face are those constructed by my own mind. After a battle with cancer this year, I am acutely aware that every single day we are given the gift of youth. Every day, regardless of age, I am able to take a new chance, try something different, reinvent myself, make new friends, heal old wounds and make good stuff happen.”

SHE SAYS… “It’s a rewardingly small and close-knit industry, so I would recommend eyewear as a career to other women. My advice: Make friends, especially with competitors.”


Diane B. Whitaker, OD

CHIEF, VISION REHABILITATION SERVICE ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF OPHTHALMOLOGY
Duke Eye Center
Durham, North Carolina

CHOSEN BECAUSE… “She is leader in her field and is influential by bringing the latest in technology including developing new apps and treatment options for patients severely limited by low vision.”

Diane Whitaker has been practicing optometry for some 17 years, starting out in a private ophthalmic surgical practice before moving to UNC Chapel Hill as assistant professor of ophthalmology. She’s spent the last nine years at Duke as assistant professor of ophthalmology and inaugural chief of the Vision Rehabilitation Service. As a clinical professor she oversees the didactic and clinical instruction of ophthalmology residents, geriatric medicine fellows and vision rehabilitation therapists. And as chief of vision rehab she’s fiscally responsible for all aspects of service and is a member of the executive committee of department of ophthalmology.

“I make a difference because I am training the eyecare providers of the future and changing misperceptions about the different roles professionals play in eyecare. I also provide trainees with practical skills and knowledge of clinical optical principles that will serve them for their professional lifetime, regardless of subspecialty. ”

She advises women to “refuse to be defined by stereotypes and preconceptions. Stay current and always try to know more than anyone else about your area of expertise.”

SHE SAYS… “Vision is our most cherished sense. Eyes are elegant, fascinating sensory organs and can be windows through which extensions of other systems can be viewed.”