Monthly Perspective – May 2019

Off the Beaten Track

On a recent family holiday to Norway, during amuch needed pit-stop to refuel, we came acrossthis treat;

Kvikk Lunsj is Norwegian for “Quick Lunch”, a little known four-fingered chocolate bar created by Norwegian company Freia back in 1937. I think for most of us, if asked to name a four fingered chocolate bar, KitKat would be the brand that comes to mind. Kvikk Lunsj is relatively unknown outside of Norway. When putting it to the taste test with our chocoholic 5 year old as the chief taster, the verdict was “yummy”. Unfortunately we didn’t have a KitKat handy to do a blind tasting but a quick Google search showed us that this “yummy” verdict was endorsed and further qualified by the Guardian newspaper in 2017. Kvikk Lunsj beat KitKat in almost every category;

Thickness of chocolate – Kvikk Lunsj has a thicker chocolate layer and feels heavier.

Taste – the chocolate taste was creamier, almost like swiss chocolate in Kviik Lunsj

Quality of chocolate – Kviik Lunsj was less sweet with a more cocoa taste coming through.

The wafer – KitKat edged it with a crispier wafer.

In-fact Nestle, who manufacture KitKat have lost several high-profile rulings against their attempts to trademark the four fingered shape. Every time this hits the news, it seems the winner is Kvikk Lunsj as it gets a little more publicity and no doubt wins over a few more taste buds.

In Norway, Kvikk Lunsj is marketed as a refuelling snack when skiing or hiking in the great outdoors which portrays a more wholesome image for a chocolate bar. There is something satisfying about stumbling upon a little known find and supporting the Davids rather than the Goliaths of this world. It is a philosophy that we employ at Perspective. We go out of our way to seek out suppliers that are niche. We are often pleasantly surprised by the passion, innovation and quality displayed by more niche eyewear companies versus the big players. They take a little more searching to find but are much more rewarding to work with in the long run.

Needless to say, we stockpiled on a supply of Kviik Lunsj at Oslo airport duty free on our journey back to London and are still chomping our way through them!

I did contemplate replacing the gorgeous Ocelot Chocolates that we gift our clients as a Thank You with Kvikk Lunsj for a short period but flying Ryan Air meant that our luggage allowance was limited. I am glad I didn’t as Ocelot Chocolate is another small, family business that produces delicious, high quality chocolate and we are glad to support them. We also love the look on our clients face when they collect their new glasses and see an unexpected and enticing chocolate box waiting for them.

Upcycling

A few months back I received a phone call from an elderly neighbour. They rang to say that they have a chair that they thought my daughter would like and wanted to arrange a time for us to go and see it to decide whether we would like to keep it.

Now, my daughter Meghna is 5 and does not spend much time “sitting” so a chair was not top of her desirable items list. But she was sufficiently intrigued by the fact that someone wanted to gift her a chair that we arranged a time to have a look. We were taken through into the living room and the chair was unveiled from under its white cover. Meghna’s face lit up when she saw the chair. It was a proper grown up armchair in a miniature size. After trying it out she declared “It’s a perfect throne for me!”, making my neighbours chuckle while alarm bells were ringing in my head!

The story behind the chair is that both my neighbour and her elder sister were gifted a chair each from their mother when they got married. My neighbour’s sister, now in her mid-90’s has had to go into a care home and so she sent the chair to her younger sister with instructions to find it a new home. With a story like that we could hardly say no to giving the chair a home and so it came back with us there and then.

BEFORE

That same week, during an eye examination I discovered that one of our many talented clients at Perspective, Charlotte Fletcher, has started her own upholstery business. I couldn’t help but show her a picture of our newly acquired armchair and get her opinion on sprucing it up.

This was followed by an exciting visit to Charlotte’s workshop in Belsize Park to discuss ideas and look at fabric options. More fabrics followed in the post, a shortlist was made and the winning fabric was democratically (with strong campaigning from me) selected. We transported the chair to Charlotte’s workshop and left it in her capable hands for a few weeks. Three weeks later it was all ready to collect. I couldn’t wait to see it as our fabric choice was bold and I had trouble visualising the result but I took a leap of faith – and here it is;

AFTER

We are delighted with the result. It has taken its place in our living room as a modernised, upcycled chair in a bright pink and white geometric fabric, ready for the 21st century. Hopefully, it will stand the test of time in our home too. If you have any upholstery upcycling projects, I would highly recommend Charlotte Fletcher Upholstery.

Recycling

From upcycling we move on to recycling. Last month we received our contact lens recycling box from Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of Acuvue lenses. We can now recycle your old contact lenses and blister packs packaging. They don’t have to be Acuvue lenses, any brand is accepted. The cardbox outer packaging for contact lenses can go with your household recycling, but please bring the rest to us and we’ll bring out “Conti” our recycling box for you to empty it all into.

Risky Business

The general advice from some of the business consultants that operate in the optical industry is not to open a practice from scratch but to buy a going-concern with a client base that can be turned around. So, it was risky business when we opened Perspective from scratch in 2009.

Looking back, the early days were tough and mistakes were made. Some ideas worked, some failed. But building the business from nothing also meant that we were close to the pulse (our clients), we could be pro-active and make changes for the better by reacting quickly.

Along the journey we didn’t always have all the answers and sometimes we just needed to try things out. This helped foster a culture of empowerment, openness and learning (often a steep curve) in the Perspective team. I am so proud of our team, who have journeyed with us through those years and kept things running.

“When you make a mistake you say Hurray and try again.”

This was something that my 5-year-old told me recently. Her teacher has been encouraging her to take more risks and not be afraid of getting things wrong, explaining that this is how we learn and grow. It really struck a chord! A lesson we continue to embrace at Perspective.

Monthly Perspective – April 2019

Digital VS Print Dilemma

I recently read in the news that the Yellow Pages – the big, thick, distinctively yellow business directory has succumbed to the inevitable and has gone fully digital and is out of print. The Yellow Pages had many uses; primarily as a business directory – I actually remember using it to find a trader or two, its size and weight also lent it to being used as a propping-up instrument for doors, and the world’s strongest men used to rip it apart as a feat of strength. I also fondly remember the TV adverts commissioned by the Yellow Pages – there was The French Polish one, The Cleaners one and The Gardener one. These are still available to view on You-Tube if you’re interested – I’d recommend it if you need a chuckle! So, is digital winning the battle over print?

As you will have noticed you are reading this newsletter on good old-fashioned paper. We have been asked by clients in the past, Why print?”, “Why not just email it? Surely that is cheaper and quicker?”. Point taken, but the efficiency of email with no postage and printing costs does not necessarily mean that the message is received as effectively! If you remember when emails first came into existence it was exciting to open your inbox and find new messages which would be read diligently. But email is a victim of its own success as a means of communicating. Most people open their inbox to find dozens of messages, most of which go unread. So, if our Newsletter showed up in your inbox, I think most of you would press delete- It’s Ok- don’t feel bad – I would do the same thing myself.

A personal letter arriving in the post is more of a rarity these days and something to get excited about. So, when I took to writing these monthly editions, I decided that in order for them to be effective they have to go out in print.

They are about keeping in touch with you and building a relationship with you in between your practice visits as the blue box on the back page explains. We hope that they impart information and news in an entertaining manner and that it is something that you enjoy reading, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee. If reading the Newsletter adds a smidgen of pleasure to your day, then hopefully we’ve won the effectiveness argument over digital.

We don’t have the multi-million-pound advertising budget of the big optical chains, but we can afford to invest in our relationship with you every month because I feel we can offer
you something of value; a level of optical expertise, personal service and humanity. By the way, we are not the only independent business that feels this way about print. There is a second-hand independent book shop in Scotland run by an interesting guy. He has taken a strong stance on the amazon kindle versus real book argument. He shot and killed an amazon kindle, had it stuffed and mounted on to the wall of his bookshop.


Amazon kindle shot by Shaun Blythell 22 August 2014

Thank You Very Much

Fight for Sight, our charity of choice for ou rHealthy Sight month drive, sent us this lovely letter on receiving our donation of£1150. We had to share it with you.

Dear Perspective Team and Customers
I wanted to write personally to thank you sincerely for your excellent fundraising efforts as part of your healthy sight drive last month.
Your generous donation of £1,150 will go directly to support the vital eye health research that we fund in over 49 of the UK’s leading universities and institutions.

As a charity dedicated to stopping sight loss, we are incredibly touched by your promotion of eye examinations. Frequent eye tests play such a crucial role in the prevention of many conditions that cause blindness, and is vital that everyone is aware of the importance of better eye health. Alongside this we must continue to fund pioneering research projects which pave the way for a future free from conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts for example.

Every day 250 people in UK start to lose their sight – it doesn’t have to be this way.Your excellent support will help to make a real difference to people’s lives, enabling some of
the brightest researchers to find new pathways to preventing sight loss, treating eye disease and ultimately restoring sight.

Thank you so much for thinking of Fight for Sight – we are so grateful for your donation and wish you the best of luck for future efforts to raise awareness of better eye health and encourage more frequent eye examinations.

Yours Sincerely
Michele Acton

We’d love to extend our thanks to our wonderful clients who support us so that we can support causes like Fight for Sight.

Our Man in Cartagena

Perspective clients are a well-travelled and cultured bunch. On occasion we receive emails from clients posing in their discerning eyewear from interesting and exotic locations.

This particular photo shows Perspective client, Michael, enjoying a refreshing cocktail in downtown Cartagena, Colombia, looking suitably cool in his new SALT. prescription varifocal polarised sunglasses.


SALT. prescription shades in action at cocktail hour

For most of us glasses wearers, our eyewear will travel just as much as we do and crop up in countless photo’s. You could actually chart your journey through life from your eyewear
history. My geeky teenage photos with oversized round glasses (long before this was fashionable) still send shivers down my spine!

Luckily I addressed this in my 20’s when my passion for eyewear started to develop and I now have a collection that I am happy to be photographed wearing.

If you have an event / holiday coming up that you know will be captured by countless camera flashes, be sure that your eyewear and sunglasses are up to scratch. Bring them in to us so we can tighten, straighten and polish them for you. We offer a free aftercare service on all glasses that you have purchased from us over the years. It also gives you an excuse to check out our latest collections and earmark your next pair.

At Perspective we have had clients request eyewear to co-ordinate outfits for weddings (particularly important for mother of the bride) and special parties. Memories you’ll look at in years to come and be glad that you looked the part from head to toe.

The photo above is of a recent Mother of the Bride client was looking for blue glasses to match her wedding day hat. She found the perfect pair with this bright electric blue Anne et Valentin model. A perfect fit for the occasion and beyond.

If you have a snap of yourself looking snazzy in your eyewear, please do email it to us or share it with us on our Facebook page. We love to see what Perspective glasses, past and present, get up to once they leave us!

If you like to keep up to date with eyewear trends and are curious about what eyewear people just like you are wearing, follow us on Facebook. Just search for “I love my glasses” on Facebook to follow us. We regularly post pictures of clients new and old modelling their glasses. A great way to get inspiration for your next look.

Monthly Perspective – March 2019

To Innovate: “Make changes in somethingestablished, especially by introducing new methods, ideas or products”

Survival of the Fittest

During a recent half term day trip into London to visit the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, I was pleasantly surprised by the gift shops. They were beautifully kept spaces; bright and airy and easy on the eye. More importantly, they were filled with content that made you stop and look despite my husband’s best intentions to steer us past them. The products were quirky, interesting and slightly off the beaten path. I have been looking for some gifts for a few occasions that we have coming up, admittedly browsing online but not really feeling inspired. Ten minutes of browsing in these gift shops and I actually found gifts that had a novelty factor and would hopefully delight and engage the recipients for some time.

A few days later I came across a news article titled “The unlikely stars bucking the High Street slump.” It seems the doom and gloom surrounding retail outlets has bypassed museum and gallery shops. They stayed ahead of the curve by innovating early. My memory of childhood visits to such places was that they were stocked with keychains, pens and badges aimed at visiting school children with a somewhat limited spending power. Not anymore! The gift shop department of these organisations have enhanced their products to include exclusive gifts, designer homeware, books and clothing, and have collaborated with artists and desirable brands to attract shoppers with their unique products.

These shops have overhauled their displays from a bric-a-brac style. Instead their streamlined product ranges concentrate on core themes relating to the exhibitions that visitors have just experienced. It seems that shopping with an experience attached is what makes these museum and gallery shops stand out.

It was a relief to read such a positive success story about retail when most of the news reports so far this year have been so negative about the state of our High Streets. Admittedly museum shops are not in typical High Street locations and they have a different foot-fall pattern but not so long ago they were struggling.

They turned things around by innovating and differentiating themselves. Dan Kennedy, a well known and respected business coach is of the opinion that not all bricks and mortar businesses are doomed. Only those that are uninteresting and fail to differentiate themselves from shopping online.

Our thinking at Perspective and what we talk about a lot in our team meetings is that retail is not doomed. It is up to us to differentiate by;

  • Giving clients a reason to keep coming back with personal and exceptional service.
  • Invest in sourcing high quality niche products from reliable suppliers.
  • Invest in building long-term relationships with our clients.

We are optimistic that as long as retailers work hard at fulfilling these principals the High Street will thrive, the fittest will survive, and our High Streets will be less generic and more interesting.

One of our favourite customer service mantrasat Perspective.

“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.“

Guilty Pleasures

Going to the cinema used to be a regular outing either as a Saturday night switch-off after a hectic week, or a Sunday night ploy to stretch the weekend. I was up to date with the who and what of Hollywood, Bollywood and everything in-between. However, for the past five years our cinema excursions have been few and far between, and I am only vaguely up to date with what’s on the silver-screen. Although, now that Meghna has turned 5, I can see that this will all be changing soon. Until then cinema trips will continue to be a rare treat.

A few weeks back we had the unexpected opportunity to enjoy one of these rare treats. My husband and I found ourselves with a spare Friday morning – it was a bit like finding a forgotten tenner in a pocket. We decided to go out and spend it straight away!

We booked the 10am show (it used to be 10pm!) so that we could finish in time for school pick up. But rather than just going to the local Vue or multiplex, we decided to savour the moment and booked a sofa (not just a seat) at an independent cinema a bit further away.

We got there early and settled down on our sofa to watch the adverts and the trailers. We couldn’t resist ordering an array of snacks; coffee, salted nuts, sparkling water and freshly made tasty guacamole served with chips. All served to us so that we did not have to miss a moment of screen time.

We munched away and were caught up in the movie, which happened to be Bohemian Rhapsody. I got so caught up that at the end I couldn’t help singing along to Queens’s greatest hits. It was just as well that we had the cinema to ourselves!

For two hours we were completely engrossed, forgot about everything else that was going on, and immersed ourselves knowing that this might not happen again for a while. It was nice
to be able to enjoy the morning in style. Everything was just that little bit more elevated from the sofa-seats, the fresh, tasty snacks and the table service. It really felt like a treat.

My cinema experience made me think about what experience you may get when you visit your Optician’s. When I first qualified, I actually worked for a Specsavers branch in East London. It was a well-run branch and Specsavers are good at what they do but it’s a “bums-on-seats” type of place. My diary was booked every 20-25 minutes. This was intense. Not much time for chit-chat or personal service. The appointments would often over-run and there was never anytime to add any frills to the service. It was exhausting and I have to admit that I didn’t last long there. I can honestly say it was all about targets, numbers and quantity over quality, rather than the people in front of us.

It turned out not to be my cup of tea. At Perspective we are much happier taking 45 minutes for an eye exam, so that we can take time to find out about you and your needs and get it right in a relaxed, unhurried environment with teas, coffees and sparkling water all served with warmth and a smile. Most people have an eye check maybe once a year or once every 2-3 years so we aspire to make a visit to the Opticians feel like a treat!

On a serious note the Perspective team are really grateful for your reviews and feedback. It helps new clients decide if we are the right fit for them by letting them know what to expect.
Your words are far more powerful than anything that we can say ourselves. So, thank you!

Healthy Sight Month

Our February Healthy Sight drive to raise money for ‘Fight for Sight’charity was a great success. A huge Thank You to all of you who came to see us for an eye examination this February. With your
help we managed to raise in excess of £1000 and we can’t wait to donate this to Fight for Sight.

On a separate note, myself and little Meghna kept the team busy with our eyecare needs last month. Meghna has a rare eye condition where her eye muscles overshoot, making her eye turn in more than it should, particularly for close work. Her Paediatric Ophthalmologist suggested that we try a bifocal or varifocal in the hope that a stronger prescription for close work will relax her muscles and keep her eyes straight.

So, a few weeks back we fitted Meghna with varifocal lenses designed specifically for children. She put them on and managed to keep still for about 5 seconds while we checked the fitting and then went off running, skipping and jumping as 5-year olds do. A few hours later, I asked her how her new glasses felt. She simply said, “Mummy, they feel nice” and that was that! So, if you have resisted varifocal lenses in the past but would like to try them it might be worth taking the plunge and giving them a go. You’ll probably find that you can hop, skip and jump in them too and that they will feel nice!

My story is that for a few weeks I had been getting annoying headaches and achy, tired eyes. Initially I put it down to being a little run- down, but then I noticed that I was avoiding reading in the evenings. Luckily, as an Optometrist I have easy access to getting my eyes checked on demand. Every job has its perks!

Sejal carried out a thorough eye test and indeed my prescription had changed quite significantly. My current glasses were too strong and so my eyes were over-focussing and hence getting tired and strained. I wish I could say that there was something I was doing to make my prescription improve – I can only say that sometimes things can improve with age. It took about half a day for my eyes to relax in to my new glasses. Miraculously my headaches disappeared almost immediately.

Small Boy

World Sight Day: indulging hoarders for a good cause

It seems that the world is divided into two types of people – the hoarders and the non-hoarders.

During our practice refurbishment earlier in the year it became startlingly clear who the hoarders were and who the discarders (for want of a better word) were in the Perspective team.

Read more

Celebrate Healthy Sight Month this February

It seems like every year life gets busier, and sometimes it’s difficult to find time to do the things we know we should, particularly when it comes to looking after our health.

That’s why it’s important to start the year on the right foot by looking after yourself.

After a busy first day back at work I came home to my four-year-old watching a children’s TV show which showed a day in the life of Axel, a trainee guide dog. It really was fascinating to see how they can teach a puppy to act as their owner’s eyes.

The level of restraint and discipline that these dogs have to show was commendable. Even Meghna commented “Axel’s a really good dog isn’t he? He listens to everything his mummy tells him.”

It took some restraint on my part to hold my tongue so that I didn’t compare Meghna’s listening skills to Axel’s!

Pay us a visit this February

This little exchange inspired the idea of making February Healthy Sight Month at Perspective.

If it’s been 12-24 months since your last eye test, this is something you really should do. An eye test will ensure that you look after the health of your eyes.

Maybe you’ve been putting off an eye examination as you feel your sight is fine, but an eye test can bring sight issues to light and detect conditions like cataracts, ocular hypertension and glaucoma.  

So as part of Healthy Sight Month we’re doing two great things this month which are good for you and also good for a great cause.

Sponsor the training of a guide dog when you visit us

If you have your eyes tested in February, we’ll donate all the proceeds from the private eye examinations to Guide Dogs for The Blind.

Guide Dogs is a charity that provides people with sight loss the support they need to move around safely and confidently, to get out of their homes and to live independently. They’re best known for achieving this through their world-famous guide dogs.

Guide Dog Puppy

In more recent years Guide Dogs have extended their work into research which ensures they develop services that people with sight loss want. They also campaign for equal rights, rights that sighted people take for granted. Our goal is to raise £1000 in February to sponsor the training of a guide-dog puppy.

So when you get your eyes examined in February, you won’t only be looking after your vision – you’ll also be helping Guide Dogs for the Blind.

As a thank you for helping us raise funds for Guide Dogs, we’ll also give you a £45 certificate that you can put towards new eyewear (which technically means your eye exam will be free if you get new glasses).

To take advantage of this great offer, get in touch on 020 7586 5508.