Each year, the biggest optical conference happens in New York City; Vision Expo East (VEE). This year, I was lucky enough to attend the conference along with Robbie, Dr. Mike and Chris. Vision Expo brings everything optical into one place: lens technology, lab equipment, frame designers, medical software, accessories and more.
Ultimately, it is undeniable that medical software has completely revolutionized the healthcare industry in recent years. For instance, companies similar to Foresee Medical have introduced healthcare professionals to electronic health records. These are essentially digital versions of traditional paper patient charts.
Above all, the goal is for EHRs to use standardized formats so that patient data can be shared between been in contact with. We stainteroperability of digital health records for both patients and providers.
Anyway, I had not visited NYC in 10 years and had never been to VEE, so I was excited to do some work and enjoy some sightseeing as well. The Expo runs Friday through Sunday, but we arrived early Wednesday to give ourselves an opportunity to do some research and attend a few other events.
We headed straight to the hotel to drop our bags and get right to work. Our first order of business was visiting the MOSCOT store on Orchard Street to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the brand’s flagship store. Harvey Moscot, fourth-generation president of the brand, met us there to show us around.
Since we’ve been selling MOSCOT at Eclectic Eye, we’ve learned so much about the family and the brand, so walking into the store felt familiar. When you walk in, you immediately see the smiling opticians and the quintessential frames that the MOSCOT brand is known for.
Harvey took us behind the scenes as well. We saw the customer service area, the accounting department, the social media staging room, and the “head maker”. MOSCOT has always been known for its mannequin heads in stores around the world. MOSCOT has a full-time employee who makes about 7 heads a day, 5 days a week! Click this link to see a quick clip of him making the heads!
Another cool detail we learned: The MOSCOT location used to be a bank. They still have the giant bank vault in one of the basement hallways. Harvey informed us, however, that it only houses a bunch of paperwork these days.
The rest of the day, we trekked through SoHo and visited a number of beautiful luxury eyewear stores like Ilori, Selima, Morgenthal Frederics, Gentle Monster and Garrett Leight, as well as the famous Katz’s Delicatessen. If you’ve seen “When Harry Met Sally,” you know Katz’s. The sandwiches are to die for, and the service was fantastic!
We switched gears and traveled about 45 minutes outside the city to tour a new lab, Digital Eye Lab. We started a relationship with this lab about 3 weeks prior and wanted to check out their facilities and meet some of the people we had been in contact with. As you would, you want to look for the best equipment for your laboratory, so we had to do a brief inspection just to make sure everything would suit our needs. We started out meeting the folks who answered the phone and assisted us with issues if/when they arose.
Next, we headed to the lab where the magic happens! The first thing I noticed were conveyor belts: they were everywhere! Above you; beside you; moving in all directions with frames and lenses and paperwork. We saw the process from start to finish, which was fascinating and, let me tell you, A LOT of work. We met the people who unpack the shipments and grind the lenses and got a sneak peek at the mounting process, the anti-reflective coating “clean rooms,” and the inspection process.
It was interesting to witness these actions that I always knew were happening, but I never really had a realistic picture of all the hard work that is involved. We were able to talk with most of the lab employees, and it was so awesome to hear that they value the quality of their work and feel like part of a family at their job, just like we do at Eclectic Eye.
Later that evening, we headed to Brooklyn for a party. Theo, one of our favorite frame collections, was launching a special collaboration with artist/designer Matali Crasset. The highlight of my evening, and maybe my optical career, was when Robbie pointed out that the co-founder of Theo, Wim Somers, was there, and we WERE WEARING THE SAME FRAME! I had a fan girl moment, to say the least, and he happily agreed to take a photo with me!
I also got to meet Molly and James, our trusty customer service liaisons who live and work out of NYC. We talk to these folks every week, so it was great to put a face to the voice. They were just as cool in person as they were on the phone.
The collaboration eyewear was housed in glass cases at the back of the store. The line is a mix of metal and acetate with interesting cutouts and funky color combinations and beautiful little pieces of art for your face! Instead of pulling the frames out of the cases, they passed around frame lorgnettes (frames with a handle that lets you hold them in place, rather than fitting them over your ears or nose) of each shape so you could “try it on” without actually putting on each frame! After a glass of wine and lots of fun conversation, we headed down the block to a fabulous Udon noodle place for dinner to end the night.
Friday was the official opening of VEE, so we headed to the convention center to walk the rows of hundreds of vendors and check out the offerings from our current collections. There was no limit to the amazing frames, technology, and accessories. It was fascinating to see new collections and all the amazing eyewear people were wearing.
We stopped by the Francis Klein booth and hung out with Dixie, our rep. As usual, their new frames did not disappoint, and we placed an order with them to replenish our current selections. Francis Klein makes every frame by hand after the order is placed, so we won’t see the new beauties on the shelf for at least 2 months.
I had the opportunity to meet Tom Davies, the designer/owner of our bespoke line in the Midtown location. His energy and love for his line was infectious, and he had many cool tips and tricks, as well as a fantastic sense of humor.
We also visited Theirry Lasry, a sun line we’ve been watching closely. They have beautiful colors, great options for both men and women and sturdy handmade construction.
After a full day of sensory overload, we headed back to our hotel to get off our feet and prepare for a silent disco party to come later that evening. Look out, because Dr. Weinberg has got some serious moves!
We headed back to the expo early Saturday morning to soak up as much as possible. We checked out some new lines that you might soon see in the store! We also looked at a variety of optical accessories: cases, clothes, eyewear cords, etc. After taking in as much as we could, I headed out into the city to do some last-minute sightseeing and check out a few other optical stores.
I knew that I wanted to go to Freedom Tower and the 9/11 memorial. I didn’t have time to go to the top or take the guided tour, but just being there was truly moving. Just like everyone else, I’ll never forget where I was and how I felt on that day in 2001, and it was such an honor to stand there and read the names encircling the fountain. If you go to NYC, I highly recommend spending some time there.
Next, I headed to another MOSCOT location to meet our new brand liaison and check out the space. It was so cool to meet with him in the store since he usually comes to visit us in Memphis. He clearly loves the brand as much as we do, and I know it will only enhance our already stellar partnership with MOSCOT.
It was a whirlwind of 4 days, but a trip I’ll never forget. I learned so much from Robbie and Mike, as well as all the stores and opticians I met. The inspiration and reassurance that I received from all directions only reinforced my love for eyewear and what we do at Eclectic Eye. I look forward to actualizing this in the store over the next few months and I hope to bring some new offerings that will excite and enhance what we already do and love.