By Denis Langlois
Optician Catherine Pelletier Lauzon says love is at the heart of the business model for her Montreal optical shop, Lunetterie ORA.
Her love for the environment is evident in her decision to sell mostly Canadian-made frames and only ethically created products. Her love for her community is reflected in her decision to donate two per cent of eyewear sales to local organizations.
“I will boldly tell you that I believe that love is at the center of all my decisions. In this sense, I believe that it is necessary to prioritize the ecology, the community and all that relates to human happiness in general,” she says.
Optical Prism recently spoke with Catherine about her relatively new optical business, which also employs a stylist and two optometrists.
Q. How did you come to open Lunetterie ORA?
A. I started working in the eyewear industry by chance. I was 19, finishing a course in theatre. Since I am very short-sighted, I went to buy glasses in a small eyewear store, Les Branchés in St-Jérôme. The owners were looking for a new stylist and, as we immediately got on well, they offered me an interview and job.
I gradually gained responsibilities within their company. I trained stylists, hired, opened stores, traveled internationally to represent the owner’s brand of frames, Faniel eyewear.
After working with them for almost four years, we felt the time had come for me to pursue my path differently. I returned to school to become an optician in order to have my own independent eyewear shop. Personally, having very strong ecological, ethical and social values, I quickly realized there was room in the Montreal industry for an eyewear shop advocating these values.
At the end of my studies, I worked in a high-end optical store for six months, after my internship there, and worked a year and a half for Bonlook as their chief optician for Quebec. I then felt the time had come for me to get started and open ORA. I left Bonlook in July 2018 and opened my store Nov. 29, 2018.
Q. Tell us more about the local/ethically made products in your shop.
A. There are not many frame manufacturers in Canada, so we managed to find a Montreal manufacturer (C Lunettes), a Toronto manufacturer (Look Again Eyewear), one from P.E.I. (Fellow Earthlings) and one from Vancouver (Spectacle Eyeworks). As for metal frames, we had to go for European manufacturing – a brand based in Toronto but that manufactures its frames in Italy (Opticianado) and two that manufacture frames with durable materials of exceptional quality (Ahlem and Mykita).
Q. Tell us about your donations to charity.
A. Each year, we choose three organizations operating in Villeray which are submitted to us by customers and neighbours. We give them two per cent of our eyewear sales during our annual birthday party on Nov. 29. We change organizations every year to give back to as many different people as possible. Each customer gets to choose which of the three local charities to donate to when they buy a pair of glasses. During the party, each organization gets the chance to talk to our customers, partners and friends about their actions in our community.
Q. What do you enjoy most about running an independent eyewear business?
A. I particularly like the chance I have to share authentic moments with my customers, frame manufacturers and employees. To feel that we connect at the level of our values and that we act concretely everyday in order to make the world better. I also like the freedom it gives me in terms of creativity. For example, we founded a local book club to meet with our customers and friends by talking about literature once a month.