Artistic Vision optician Annette Gutierrez can diagnose an ill-fitting pair of glasses with just a glance: the metal frames are too heavy and slide down the bridge of a slender nose. No amount of nudging will make them fit.
The optical shop, located in Corrales, opened in February and is meant to offer a more fun-filled experience than a traditional eyewear store, said owner Marie Archibeque.
“I wanted something different, unique and fun,” Archibeque said. “Something out of the ordinary, boring and drab optical shops that are already out there.”
Archibeque already owns a more traditional optical shop that she opened six years ago, but decided to grow by opening a separate business that’s focused on fit and fun.
Archibeque and Gutierrez have each worked as opticians for over 20 years.
“People might not buy something from us, but if they left with the knowledge and experience of what me and Annette have learned over the 25 years we’ve been doing this, that’s where we get excited,” Archibeque said.
Gutierrez believes firmly that before anything else, prescription glasses are a medical device, and opticians have an obligation to make sure the frames fit the wearer’s face and are appropriate for the prescription.
The store works with Zeiss, a well-known lens manufacturer, and can order high-quality lenses to fill prescriptions. The business does not accept insurance, but customers can purchase frames through Artistic Vision and get their lens prescription filled elsewhere. On the low end, the shop carries $200 frames and on average the glasses frames run for $300.
Instead of sending someone to search through the store for frames they might like, the opticians look over a client’s prescription first, then find out what they loved or hated about their last pair of glasses.
“Our job is to talk to you, figure out what you actually need them for and that also explains maybe why their last pair of glasses just didn’t work for them,” Gutierrez said.
But there’s no reason frames can’t be colorful and fun, too.
“To add a little bit of color, it’s amazing what that does to people,” Archibeque said. “It puts a smile on their face and perks them up a bit.”
The store aims to help people step outside of their comfort zone and express themselves.
“Isn’t that candy for the face?” Gutierrez asks, pointing out a pair of bright orange frames. She gets goosebumps gushing over bright pink frames on display.
Ask for tortoiseshell or black frames — the go-to colors for glasses — and Gutierrez might be tempted to hide them from you, so she can offer a more whimsical option. Forest green hexagons, orange half-moon frames with circular lenses, cartoon-inspired frames with dark black lines on gray, or maybe a pair in electric blue like the glasses Gutierrez frequently rocks herself.
“People in our industry want something different. Everything in our industry pretty much is owned by Luxottica, and they own LensCrafters, and Pearle Vision, and so it just doesn’t give people options,” Gutierrez said.
The business sees many customers who have moved from out of state.
“We’re getting a lot of people who have sold their house in New York, Dallas. We get a lot of people from California, and they’re used to being able to find frames like this in the bigger cities. But we’re not just catering to them. Marie and I are born here in New Mexico, so it’s our family members, too. We want people to know, you can treat yourself to something different,” Gutierrez said.
While Artistic Vision may inspire the fashion-forward glasses wearer to experiment, the fit of the frames is always top priority. The fit should not only accommodate the wearer’s vision, but also their needs. Someone who rarely works on the computer or has regular natural light, doesn’t need blue light lenses that protect from electronic-screen eye fatigue. Someone with a high prescription and high brows might be stuck constantly tilting their head if the frames don’t go high enough up on their face.
The opticians are also happy to refer out customers looking for laser treatment, an ophthalmologist who specializes in dry eyes, or a glasses maker who accepts a specific type of insurance. Archibeque and Gutierrez are ready to help clients find glasses that suit their eyesight and their artistic vision.
“Whether you wear glasses or sunglasses or not, when you walk in here, it’s an experience, and I think everybody should have the opportunity to experience it, because we make shopping fun,” Archibeque said.
Artistic Vision is located at 10700 Corrales Road, Suite D.