Buying glasses at Eden Eyecare Penrith in Penrith is a unique experience, helped by enthusiastic experts who combine impeccable technical knowledge with proven style expertise.
Eden Eyecare in Penrith is a practice which is aiming to change the way people buy their spectacles, turning it into a style consultation, rather than just an everyday retail purchase.
When Zoe Anderton and Iain Macnish opened the business in Angel Lane in 2015, they added a bespoke styling service, offering one-to-one eyewear advice to their clients. Their aim is to not only offer the best technical care, but also to use Zoe’s skills as a dispensing optician.
That means she does the specialist optical side of things, as well as using her expertise to match glasses to their customers’ practical needs, and make them look great in the process, all with the help of her brilliant team.
She says: “We consider everything from face shape and the colouring of hair and skin tone, as well as hairstyles. They’re often the bits that are forgotten when people come to choose their frames.
“In every high street optician, there is a rack of glasses for people to try on but, in most cases, the staff have been trained in a retail environment so customers are just left to try them on.
“I’m a dispensing optician, which means I have clinical expertise but also extra skills which involve the technical aspects of frames and lenses. I am also passionate about fashion and style so I want customers to find spectacles they love which enhance their faces and their individual style.”
Eden Eyecare is one of very few on the high street to have an Optical Coherence Tomographer, or OCT. It is also the only practice in Cumbria which offers a free OCT test with an ophthalmology review. This £45,000 device uses laser beams to scan the eye and produce a detailed 3-D map of the retina, enabling a glaucoma diagnosis up to five years earlier than standard photographs, and giving an early warning of the symptoms of things like retinal detachment and macular degeneration.
But Zoe says finding the perfect frames should be as important as getting the right prescription. Once the clinical consultation is done, the customer sits down for a
cup of coffee and a chat.
She adds: “You have got to live with your glasses for at least two or three years so they have got to be comfortable and right for you.
“We look at three things. Firstly, the person’s face shape, then the fit and materials which are best for them, and thirdly the aesthetics like colour, finish and detail. We also ask the client what sort of look they want to convey and what they want to look like – no two consultations are the same.”
Word has been spreading on social media about the service Zoe and Iain offer, with more than 60 five star reviews on Facebook from satisfied customers. Comments include ‘can’t rate these people highly enough’, ‘the staff really went the extra mile’, ‘explained everything and all the latest technology’ and ‘would highly recommend, as a colleague has to me’.
Zoe regularly shares Eden Eyecare’s success stories on social media, including Instagram, and posts pictures in the store window too, which really gets the local people talking when they see someone they know.
It’s not unusual for clients to spot glasses on celebrities and personalities on the TV or in magazines, then ask Zoe to find them a matching pair.
“One lady emailed me and asked me to find the glasses worn by one of the TV chefs,” says Zoe. “After a bit research I found a few options, then we sat down to ensure that they would suit her face shape and colouring. She was so happy when we found the perfect pair.”
The team are regulars at the international trade shows, always on the lookout for something special, either from the big brand names or some great UK alternatives. Practicality is also key, like stainless steel or titanium frames, hypo allergenic options, lightweight acetate styles, and then the little touches, like moulded bridges or comfortable nose pads.
Zoe’s enthusiasm for her subject is infectious. She says she always wanted to be a dispensing optician, ever since she got her first pair of glasses aged 14. She worked in her local optician’s practice, starting at the bottom as a Saturday girl, before heading off to get her qualifications nearly 13 years ago.
She’s determined to make style consultations fun and stress-free.
“Buying a pair of glasses means something different to each person” adds Zoe. “For some it’s practicality and necessity, but for another it’s about how they enhance or change their face shape. I love the engineering and the precision side of it, but also the fashion and styling too.
“Our bespoke style consultation approach saves the customer time, rather than them trailing round endless opticians’ shops, without knowing if what they are choosing is right for them.”
This article appeared in the October 2017 edition of Cumbria Life. You can download a PDF version of the actual article: Download PDF Article