Vision Expo is an international trade show, where eyecare professionals unite to achieve the ultimate optical industry experience, whether it's fashion related or health-related. Being in the optical industry for short 15 years, I can assure one thing is that it is very versatile, where there is no limit for opportunities. It's true that Vision Expo is home to all eyecare professionals. It is also open to the public who is interested in emerging eyewear trends; becoming a designer or just getting their foot in the optical industry, or anything one imagines to achieve will undoubtedly find a taste of their interest at Vision Expo East (New York City) or West (Las Vegas). (Disclaimer: Vision Expo Banner I used above is not mine, I got the image from Google.)
My First Vision Expo (VE) Experience
I have been attending VE East since 2006. My first experience was as a student with my classmates and professors. I remember falling in love the instant I stepped inside the Jacob Javits Exhibit Hall. It felt as if a child had joined the best carnival in the world, where you could see anything about eyes and eyewear. I loved eyeglasses even before I knew anything about eyewear. Imagine my reaction, when all I saw around me was frames, frames, and more frames. Yes, I fell in love even more, and I wanted to take all the frames home with me. I remember asking vendors to sell me the frames, little did I know how eyewear buying worked at that time. Though, I ended up taking free pens, rulers, lab tools, keychains, chocolates or anything I could grab for free along with shopping/recycling bags on my first visit. I recall coming home with at least 15-20 shopping bags. Oh and the Rayban beach bags, I got 10 in a day (I had neither good nor bad feelings about Luxottica back then, as I had zero information on Luxottica). That was my first best vision expo carnival that I fell in love at first sight.
Vision Expo is more than just the Freebies
After my first fantastic experience at the Vision Expo, this is one trade show I have been looking forward to since then. Over the years, I learned freebies weren’t the only excitement at vision expo. Throughout the years, I met optical people from all over the world, who shared same passion and interests as me. I connected with opticians and optometrist from all over the country. Most of us have to take continuing education courses to keep our licenses updated, and Vision Expo is the perfect place to get educated on latest trends and technologies as well as business management. Fun fact, VE is also a place you spot celebrities at and take photos with them without waiting in line for too long. To name a few, I have seen Wendy Williams, Quarterback and NFL Analyst Ron "Jaws" Jaworski, Akon, Willis Reed, Nicole Polizzi, and more. I’m not a huge fan of taking photos with celebrities unless they truly inspire me. I admit I was once forced into a line with a friend to take a photo with Florida. “Apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur…” :)
In the early stages of my career, I managed an optical lab. Vision Expo was the perfect place for me to explore new lens designs and technology. Lab supplies, screwdriver kits, and machines became my new obsession. Later, I transitioned to working on the optical front, and I learned the difference between brand names and luxury eyewear lines. I can never forget that moment, when someone opened my mind to luxury eyewear that didn’t display Prada, Dior, D&G logo on the temples, yet they looked like show stoppers. Theo Eyewear was my first luxury eyewear love, unique shapes and loud color pops stole my heart. I was intrigued by the modern, classic yet elegant styles from Barton Perreira, stunning colorful cat eyes and shoes on the temple tips from Face a Face. I enjoyed the stories behind the luxury eyewear frame designs and the designers themselves. These independent designers kept unveiling the next new thing, and I noticed the brand name designers took inspiration from it as well, except they lacked the product quality. Even more, I loved sharing those stories with customers. I find it entertaining to work with lines that tell a story than just saying, “Oh, it costs $500 because it’s a Prada”. The quality difference in products from luxury eyewear vs. branded lines was a huge shock to me. I’ve been a frame buyer since 2011 and finding luxury eyewear lines is like going on a treasure hunt at Vision Expo.
Vision Expo 2018
This expo, I got the opportunity to connect with new faces in the industry and reconnect with fabulous unforgotten faces. My VEE 2018 highlights were: Zeiss party, continuing education courses, new eyewear vendors, inspiring optical women on Instagram, Coco & Breezy in their niche, Todd Rogers Eyewear received the Optimum Retail Award, Loft party and the most exciting part, my two new sunglasses and an ophthalmic frame.
Zeiss party at the Intrepid was not only mind-blowing but also informative. Zeiss is a name; you will often hear in the optical industry as they design beautiful lenses for eyewear. I will do a thoroughly informative blog post on Zeiss in future.
The courses I attended were, “how to build the ultimate optical” & “coordinating special events and trunk shows.” Also, had the opportunity to meet new designers, heard their stories and I can’t wait to share them with all of you in my upcoming blogs.
Who should attend Vision Expo?
Everyone. I met a blogger at the expo who is not in the optical field, but she needed a unique content for her blog. Also, met a visual merchandiser, who was inspired by the Galleria & Underground booth displays. I saw kids at the Intrepid- Zeiss party. Vision Expo is a marvelous experience that opens your eyes beyond your imagination! Fashion bloggers or influencers should undoubtedly attend the show to stay on top of the emerging eyewear trends.
I am passionate about the optical industry. Therefore, my work doesn’t feel like work to me. Mostly, I am working at Vision Expo finding new frame vendors for my employers. Wishing, someday I will be shopping for my optical shop (fingers crossed). Every year, I try to take a personal day at Vision Expo and love to bring a friend along who isn’t from the industry and show them around. If you're not from the optical industry but plan to attend the show next year, please don't think twice. I assure you that It will be an exciting experience and I guarantee you would want to visit again.
Check out the borrowed link above from Vision Expo Facebook page to get the glimpse of 2018 Vision Expo.