Monday, August 2, 2010

August Denver Made Interview: Eyelab

August's Denver Made brings an exciting new twist to this first friday happening with the Eyelab. This is the first time we have ever hosted this event in honor of a non-profit which marries the concept of fashion and function. Eye wear can be a necessity for people as much as a fashion statement and Eyelab is all about bringing people affordable prescription eye wear that fits the bill both stylistically and literally. Martina Grbac, the visionary behind Eyelab, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for us about her newest endeavour in preparation for her Denver Made event this coming Friday August 6th. 

ft: What is the purpose of eyeLab and when did the idea first come about?

el: Throughout my happenstance career working in the eyecare industry, I've been painfully aware of the fact that I'd never be able to afford glasses if I weren't already in the field. I know that healthcare insurance is difficult for many people to come by, and even those that are lucky enough to have medical coverage often have little to no benefits when it comes to eyecare. For years now, I've been thinking about how high-quality eyeglasses could be made more affordable and accessible. I can't tell you how many times I've seen people resort to cheap frames & lenses that are uncomfortable or inappropriate for their needs just because of unfortunate financial situations.

Another important motive in putting this project together was the need for trustworthy consumer education; anyone purchasing prescription lenses can tell you there is A LOT of information exchange, A LOT of decision making, all of which can be maddening in the face of money-hungry salespeople or under-qualified chain store employees. Eyelab is intended to be a resource center that not only provides flexible payment options for prescription glasses, but also educates the public about eyecare options and puts people in touch with local eyecare providers. Besides, shopping at a corporate optical is far more pleasant when you're actually armed with information and know which questions to ask. 

ft: How did you get your start in the optometry field? 

el: Honestly? 10 years ago, I responded to a "want" ad boasting they'd "train the 'right' person." And it turned out I fit the bill. A good many opticians get their start this way....

ft: Who is Eyelab for?

el: Everyone! My intention is to provide eyewear in a wide variety of price ranges, offering vintage and used eyeglass frames in addition to higher-end designer products. Sliding scale fees will be available to those in need of financial assistance, so that high-quality lenses are accessible to all. 

ft: What music do you listen to when you work, if any?

el: I'm an NPR/PRI radio show junkie and can't live without my Radiolab and This American Life. I'm a big fan of Colorado music locals (we are LUCKY in this town!); 80's new-wave nonsense is also frequently enjoyed. 

ft: Do you have a favorite style when it comes to eye wear at the moment?

el: Vintage style has always had a special place in my heart. I'm thrilled that so many new designers have decided to re-issue many of the classics. For a while there, it was near impossible to find anything that wasn't teensy and square. I feel like there's more diversity in frame styles on the market now than I've seen in the past 10 years, which is not only more fun for all of us, but means people might stop trying so hard to pressure their out-of-date relatives into make-overs during family reunions. You know who I'm talking about. 

ft: How can someone get an appointment at Eyelab? 

el: By visiting It might be a little while before I can afford a business phone line, but in the meantime I've been setting up consultation meetings via email. People are also welcome to stop by! The new space is located at 2298 Clay St. (on the back side of the building facing River Dr.). Though it will be undergoing some pretty serious renovation during the month of August, visitors are welcome!

For more information on the Eyelab or to chat with Martina in person, please join us Friday August 6th from 7pm-10pm at Fancy Tiger Clothing for beverages, light snacks and good conversation. There will also be some frames on view to check out. 


Fancy Tiger Clothing

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