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Iris Bonnevue

Updated: Jan 25

Celebrating the big 4-0 this week because TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY! In honor of 4 decades of growth, I’m shining the spotlight on myself and my journey.


A self-taught eyewear designer and former non-licensed optician, I took a leap from optometry to pursue my passion for eyewear design. I funded this venture using profits from selling my house last year. I've since had to navigate the challenges of aspiring to climb corporate ladders to finding fulfillment in the madness of becoming a brand and small business owner.


After a decade as an optician, I questioned the industry’s focus on metrics over patient satisfaction and the constant pressure to meet sales targets took a toll on my passion for Opticianry as it wasn't how I felt patient care should be. Even in a private practice, post-COVID stress outweighed the pay and the eventual burnout led me to finally prioritizing my dignity over a paycheck, submitting a two weeks’ notice that turned into a mid-shift exit.


Opticianry and optometry continue to hold special places in my heart, yet my true passion lies in the realm of frames. In the evolving landscape of eyewear becoming wearable art, my objective is to make my own contributions. While I find joy in restoring the frames of others, my desire to create them from inception has become my primary objective and vision. I commenced this year a student, with no prior design experience outside of sketches in notebooks. I enrolled in a weekend long class I'd dreamt of attending for years. After successfully producing two "wearable" pieces I returned home and embarked on establishing a backyard workshop, which now serves as my designated workspace. Throughout this journey, my dedication to learning and honing this craft has remained steadfast, persisting even in the face of numerous obstacles I’ve worked tirelessly to overcome.


This year has seen me dedicate countless hours to learning diverse software programs and thoroughly researching unfamiliar equipment before making some of the most significant investments in my life. Immersing myself in Instagram reels and YouTube videos, I transformed my knowledge from a state of bewilderment—"How did they DO that?!"—to a confident grasp of the process: "I know how they made that; let me show you!" Networking with esteemed designers and meeting individuals I never imagined encountering, my dream of handcrafting frames has matured from a weekend class endeavor into a fully-fledged passion project I refuse to let go of.


In 2024, I aspire to unveil my inaugural ready-to-wear collection comprised of 10 meticulously crafted pieces. Though my goal is a spring release, the experiences of this challenging first year has underscored the importance of flexibility, especially when my skillset is a work in progress. Despite the challenges and stress-induced tears, I’ve resolved to unveiling it when it precisely aligns with my vision of perfection...whenever that may be.


Post-release goals of mine include shifting my focus toward refining bespoke tailoring and fostering my brand, while still recognizing my gradual journey as I work toward the ultimate goal of opening a storefront.


Perhaps sharing my own story of success and failure as this week's Indy Spotlight is a bit narcissistic of myself, but hey, it's my birthday and I'll shine if I want to.


Reflecting on the support received this year, I envision returning with another “annual update” this time next year. If you’re not already following me on social media, join the adventure and discover what’s in store. 2024 holds promising prospects, and the more, the merrier on this journey! Don’t miss the upcoming return of Opticians: Unhinged next month—stay tuned for updates!


Many thanks and much appreciation,

IRIS

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