By Denis Langlois
Amina Coovadia-Bell says she learned a lot on her journey to becoming a registered optician and business owner from her parents.
“I grew up in the health care business with my parents mentoring me at a young age – working in a pharmacy and doing everything from stocking shelves to helping in the dispensary with my father to learning how to run a business from my mother,” she recalls.
After becoming a registered optician in 1996, Coovadia-Bell and her mother, Shamim, pursued together the status of refracting optician.
“It was not only an education but a unique time in my life where I enjoyed the dynamic of studying with my mother and meeting entrepreneurs who were passionate about the profession and were engaged in the political aspects of the industry,” she says.
Coovadia-Bell founded The Spectacle Shoppe, an eye clinic/optical dispensary in Sutton West, Ont., in 2009.
Her mother is still by her side; working at the business.
We spoke with Coovadia-Bell about her shop and role with the Ontario Opticians Association.
Q. Tell us about your clientele and the eyewear available at your store.
A. The clientele ranges from the cottagers who spend their summers enjoying the lake to the families who have made this picturesque area their home.
I feature frames from Denmark, Germany, London, Austria, Sweden, the UK and others. I search out elements that are classic and timeless as well as the newest innovative looks of the season.
The variety of pastimes that my patients have compels me to focus on eyewear with durability, functionality and capturing a sporty look but delivering superb comfort and edginess.
Q. What are the benefits of owning an independent eyewear shop?
A. Having my own business allows me the freedom of catering to each individual to the best of my ability. I am not restricted to lens designs, materials, fitting parameters, specific companies or branding. I promote what I believe in.
Q. What’s in store for your business in the future?
A. As the town slowly grows and changes, the business will evolve. The Spectacle Shoppe will be expanding and specializing in a number of areas such as low vision.
Q. Tell us about your work with the OOA.
A. I have been a board director for seven years. I have the utmost respect for the team. They are an incredible diverse group of opticians that have a drive to achieve great shifts in the profession. The team contributes countless hours collectively with the OAC to advocate the profession on many levels from reviewing and researching regulated bylaws and standards, meeting with politicians and bureaucrats regarding current and proposed legislation to providing symposiums to educate colleagues on the newest technology.