Today we’d like to introduce you to Staci Webb.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was 17 in college, ran out of contacts and needed new glasses. When I told my Mom, she told me to get a job somewhere that sells glasses. I started at a national chain and it was sink or swim. There was no training program but I latched onto the most experienced staff and spent all my free time studying industry literature and practicing the craft of eyewear manufacturing and fitting. I was told I would either hate it and be gone in a month or be in the industry for the rest of my life.
I am approaching the 20-year mark I can tell you there is something extremely gratifying about helping people see better than they ever have before. I’ve dedicated my life to educating patients rather than selling. A well-informed consumer will appreciate the care and time we take to find the right frame and produce the highest quality lenses.
At the end of 2016, I had the amazing privilege of purchasing Vogue Optical when Mr. & Mrs. Lopez retired at age 85. Eddie H. Lopez started in the optical industry at the age of 14 delivering glasses on a bicycle in Corpus Christi. He married the love of his life at 16. When WWII started, the lab he worked for needed help keeping up with the Navy orders. Mr. Lopez became the first Mexican American certified optician in Texas. He broke through another social barrier by becoming a lab manager in downtown Houston at the age of 19. It wasn’t until 1980 that he was able to own his own store. He had the confidence to pass the torch to me. Eddie knew that we were both opticians that took great pride in caring for customers.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road has been far from smooth. In 2006 I ,and my husband at the time, incorporated and started the process of establishing our own store. We were about 6 months from opening the doors when the housing market started to crash. The bank required twice as much down on the loan. We had to keep working awhile longer to come up with the additional capital. We both worked for the same national chain. When our employer found out that we might soon be their competitors, we were both let go.
Without the income, and with the downturn in the economy, we had to scrap the venture and lost a lot of our savings. Our former employer blacklisted us in the DFW area. We had to move to Austin to find work. We lost our house and our marriage could not stand up to the stress.
In my mid-30’s, I went back to school to get a minor in biology and apply for optometry school. I wanted to become an eye doctor and truly care for the patients from start to finish. After a few very rough years of school, work, and optometry school applications, I was denied acceptance. A couple of friends working at different schools told me that I had too much industry experience and my age was a factor. The other people applying were on average 15 years younger and had no background in optics.
Out of the ashes of those dreams, I created a consulting company to help doctors run their practices. For two years I had a very successful business with 3 employees and steady work. One retiring client requested my entire staff work in their practice exclusively and facilitate the sale of the business. We doubled profits and recruited a doctor to purchase the practice. The new owner staged a hostile takeover of my staff and cut our contract.
After I knew all of my employees had income secure, I took a contract on my own in Colorado. I worked with an optical as well as with my brother, Christopher, helping him run his construction company. We spent part of the summer living and working out of his van to put money together for a business venture. I flew to Houston to visit. My friend, Chris, asked me to drop off a part to Mr. Lopez. He mentioned Eddie might be closing, and thought it could be a great opportunity for me. I stopped in for a few hours to visit. Eddie said he’d rather close the door than sell to someone that would run his name into the ground. I was honored when Mr. Lopez asked if I would be willing to continue the quality service he had been offering. Two weeks later I was the new owner of Vogue Optical.
Everything happened so fast. I tried to get my Mom to move to Houston to be with me, but there was just too much going on with the store and upcoming remodel. She wanted to wait until things settled down. At the beginning of 2017 I started the remodel with the help of my brother, Christopher, my boyfriend, Michael, and my friend, Chris. Two weeks into the remodel I got a devastating call from my brother, Mike, that my Mom had committed suicide. The anxiety of getting older and possibly having to be on oxygen was too much for her. Purchasing this store should have been one of the most exciting times but it has been the hardest time of my life.
I was able to complete the construction and reopen mid-March. We’ve been back open now for two and half months. My friends, family, and current customers have been extremely supportive during this rough time.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Unlike our competitors, we do not charge the high prices of private doctor’s offices, and we do not provide the cookie-cutter “solutions” of the big box stores. We provide individualized solutions to complex and personal eyewear problems. What makes us better than our competitors is our dedication to personalized service and expert care. We have experienced, friendly, helpful, and professional staff who take the time to understand individual problems before providing customized short- and long-term solutions. We strive to provide exceptional service to every one of our clients, and we never cut corners.
We have an in-house lab allowing us to do things, like repairs, right in the shop. This means everything is done in-house, by experienced staff. Being the owner of a local optical, gives me the opportunity to offer services above and beyond what you’ll find at other stores. I work with people that need payment plans. Recently I researched and found frames that would work for a special needs child. He was not able to come to the store for a fitting, so I went to their home and fit him for glasses. We have an 84-year-old patient that was bed ridden with a hip injury. I was able to hand deliver the glasses to her home. We do free adjustments, and minor repairs every day. The care we take with each customer is unprecedented.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Because the University of Houston’s school of optometry produces so many optometrist that stay in the Houston area after graduation, the optical market for doctor’s offices, is heavily saturated. There are many large national chains and franchise stores throughout Houston. However, there are few optician owned boutiques. An optician with the right customer service and business knowledge can be easily be successful in Houston.
- Address: 5901-F Westheimer
Houston, TX 77057
- Website: www.VogueOpticalTX.com
- Phone: 713-784-0113
- Email: VogueOpticalTX@gmail.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/vogueopticaltx/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/VogueOpticalTX/
- Yelp: www.yelp.com/biz/vogue-optical-houston-2