Seeing things differently

What’s the first thing you think of when going to an optometrist’s office?
Probably something along the lines of a sterile, blank-walled environment where fun is left at the door. This was the sort of thing that cousins Dr. Jessie Fillmore and Bonni O’Hara were looking to avoid when they opened up G is for Glasses on Taylor Ave. in 2014.
“It was a brand new building so we had a completely blank slate with what we wanted to do with the space too, which was really cool,” said Jessie about their location.
Indeed, that is far from the case at G is for Glasses, with an ever-changing display of assorted “random things” on the walls, with objects like vinyl records, oars and dinosaurs on display. And of course, they have glasses too.
  From Point A to Point G
When Jessie was looking to go to optometry school, her options were limited to two: the only Canadian school, Waterloo, or elsewhere. She ended up going to the University of Chicago in the United States, graduating in 2009. Having been away from family in the city she grew up in, Jessie decided to return.
“I wanted to come home,” said Jessie. “I was away for four years. That was long enough to experience the world. I got to live in Alabama for three months but at that point I said ‘okay, I miss Canada.’”
Together, Jessie and Bonni often discussed different things that should happen when Jessie would open her own practice, until one day a life-changing decision was made.
“We’re at the cottage and Jessie says‘how about this: we’ll open a store together’,” said Bonni. “‘Ok, sounds great!’”
“I was at Ikea before this, and I’m a mom so I needed more flexibility,” said Bonni. “Retail is a hard industry to be in and I’d been in for almost 20 years. It’s evenings, and weekends and never the same schedule. I wanted to be a more active mom and I wanted to be closer with my family, and still have a career. I love working and I love working hard towards something.”
G is for Glasses has a rapidly expanding social media platform, as the team is constantly trying to build and improve relationships.
One of the sights you will often see if you follow them on Instagram is people posing with their new glasses…and a large nail. Customers pose in a variety of positions, using the nail as a prop while sporting their new spectacles.
The idea came when Bonni and Jessie were running errands one day in early 2014, as they prepped for the opening of their store in June.
“We walked by these nails, and I asked ‘hey Bonni, can we get one of these?’ And they were l89 cents,” said Jessie. “Bonni said ‘we need this for something’. She texts me that night ‘oh my god, nailed it with a big nail’. And it was the best 89 cents we’ve ever invested in our entire lives.”
It’s all G
G is for Glasses celebrated its first “birthday” in late June, and there are no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
Jessie and Bonni both highly value family, which is why that was important when hiring the rest of their team. Ken Bond works as a dispenser for G Is for Glasses, and Kelsey Gullett working as receptionist.
“When we were starting this new venture, it was important to us that we hired people with a good vibe that we trusted,” said Jessie. She and Ken had worked together for five years prior, while Kelsey experience and commitment to family made her an easy choice for the team.
Eyes on the future
“It takes a good four years to build a full practice, and we built the store to have another optometrist, so end game another five years we have another doctor in here and keep on building,” said Bonni. “We’ll change the inside, we built the inside and did the fixtures so we could easily change things around.”
“We didn’t want to pigeon hole ourselves, we wanted some fluidity with what we could do with the space,” said Jessie. “We change with the seasons, we change with our moods. We want evolution, we want to be constantly changing things up, but also remain who we are at the same time.”

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