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Vision Expo West – Las Vegas, Nevada

September 22, 2017

Venturing into the desert has long been a right of passage for many people.

It tests you, what you think you’re made of and what you actually are. The desolate beauty of the desert is overwhelming, and frightening at the same time. The hot earth beneath your feet is cracked and barren where nothing can survive, except the strong and determined.

There is also the camaraderie formed with those who go with you, and make it out. And then there is the tragedy of those who get swallowed up by the distractions, the lights, the drinks, or the drama of Las Vegas. Visiting the city in the desert has given us a new perspective on everything, from the meaning of being an independent company, to the will to survive in a huge industry that favors the big guys over small shops.

Everyone has an angle, everyone is a hustler. How easy it is to trade your ethics for the metaphoric glass of water here in Las Vegas. Can a little shop compete with all of the bright lights and flashy look at me companies? We went into the desert, and by our first day back at home, we realized that yes, we can. Nobody believes in us the way we do, and going into to the desert and coming back, we realize that we are small, but strong.

We went to the Expo to look at eyewear, and we ended up seeing so much more.

There are many things that we’d like to share with you about our trip to Las Vegas, so read on.


We went to Vision Expo to check out new independent eyewear brands.

We were on a mission. With limited time and resources, we checked into our hotel and made a beeline to The Loft Independent Eyewear Expo at the Frank Gehry “Keep memory alive” building. (Note: next time do not self check in, the confusion is not worth the saved 10 minutes waiting in line. Lesson learned for next time.)

We arrived to the expo location and we were speechless, the building was incredible. The Building itself was a testament to innovative independent thought leading the way for genuine humanitarian progress.

The famous architect Frank Gehry designed the building and construction was finished in 2010. Gehry is best known for designing the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA.

The building has a 75 foot ceiling, with 299 windows. No two windows are exactly the same. The technology in the design of the windows is also amazing, the windows filter light according to the position of the sun so it’s not too bright or too dark. This kind of optical tech is like candy to us opticians. The windows can also be programmed to light up with different colored LED lights at night.

Profits from events held at the center go towards scientific research for the treatment of Alzhiemers, Parkinsons, Lou Gherigs, and ALS and other brain related diseases.

The famous architect Frank Gehry designed the building and construction was finished in 2010. Gehry is best known for designing the Guggenheim Museum in Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA.

The building has a 75 foot ceiling, with 299 windows. No two windows are exactly the same. The technology in the design of the windows is also amazing, the windows filter light according to the position of the sun so it’s not too bright or too dark. This kind of optical tech is like candy to us opticians. The windows can also be programmed to light up with different colored LED lights at night.

Profits from events held at the center go towards scientific research for the treatment of Alzhiemers, Parkinsons, Lou Gherigs, and ALS and other brain related diseases.

 We were Freshman at The Expo.

We got to meet some of our favorite designers while we were there. It was such a great experience to see where the designs come from, and be able to actually see the unique personalities of these designers in their eyewear collections. It makes the bigger picture of cultivating a selection of eyewear more cohesive. We’ve always said that finding a great frame has so much to do with a person’s unique personality, and meeting the designers and connecting the way their personality is imparted on their collection was so awesome.

Laura and Blake Kuwahara

Side note: Laura has a tattoo of one of the first brands that inspired her early in her career, the tribal collection by Kata.  Blake Kuwahara was the designer of Kata. Blake has created a new signature brand “Blake Kuwahara” – which we will be adding to our shop soon. So, this journey to Las Vegas has brought our past, present and future together. It was kind of a kismet moment.

We also had the opportunity to hear from a panel of “Women in Optics”

Some of these women were other independent shop owners, some were in frame production, some were in other parts of the optical industry, some had been around for quite some time while others were fairly new. We loved hearing what these amazing women had to say. The questions they had to answer were not easy, and it was very refreshing to hear how they got started in optical, and also how they overcame some obstacles that are relevant to our industry. Whether new or seasoned, the driving theme in everything they discussed was a passion for what they do. They love what they do, and it was inspiring to listen to these like minded strong women in our industry.

We try to learn from everything we do, from every experience we have.

What does it mean, how does it relate to us personally and as a business? What can we take away from this, and how can we apply it in a meaningful way to our lives? It’s easy to forget why we do what we do sometimes, and going to this Expo was a great reminder for us.

Don’t let the days go by without taking the chance. Wander into your own desert, and come back stronger and more independent.

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