Frames

Feature Local Companies and their Unique Products

By Cheryl G. Murphy, OD


When buying frames for your frame board, have you ever stopped to think about who designed them or where they were made? Jade Hutton, of Colors in Optics, Ltd., a New York-based optical company, sat down with me recently to discuss design and the personal touch.

I took away from our discussion the difference that supporting a local frame design company can make for an optometric practice. Rather than just having frames that patients could find online or at any of the big-box retailers, buying unique frames from a local designer is a way to differentiate your offering to patients. A unique frame board can set your practice apart from competitors and show patients that, like many of them, you value local businesses.


Jade Hutton, of Colors in Optics, Ltd., a New York-based optical company.

I met Jade Hutton, of Colors in Optics, through another optometrist at Vision Expo East this year. As she enthusiastically showed me the Crayola line of kids’ frames that Colors in Optics offers, I told her how much I loved the frame colors and their clever names. She smiled as she revealed to me that she was the person who had named them. That struck me.
As an optometrist, I certainly appreciate the style of each frame I see, but at that moment I realized that for the past 10 years of practicing optometry I had been seeing the glasses on the frame board as finished products, and had not stopped to think much about the design process or the heartfelt inspiration that went into the creation of each frame.
I soon decided to reach out to Jade to learn more about the design process, her sources of inspiration and her family who founded the company, Colors in Optics.
Colors in Optics (CIO)is a legendary name in the optical industry because they were the first to implement the use of vibrant colors in frames. Today, they continue their house brand of frames and also work with outside brands such as Steve Madden, Vince Camuto and Jessica Simpson, to name a few.
Sowing Seeds of Inspiration
Cheryl: What are your sources of inspiration for frame design?
Jade: I find inspiration for the designs from a variety of places. Sometimes I could be walking down the street and see some great detail or workmanship on something and try to translate into a frame. We also receive inspiration from some of our brands, so we always try to incorporate that. Some inspiration may come from what the trend is and designing into the trend, as well.
Cultivating Great Design
Cheryl: What is it exactly that you do? How does the design process work?
Jade: The design process is where I have the most fun and can put my creativity to work. The initial step of the process for each brand is coming up with the shapes that capture the upcoming trend and updating the core shapes to make them fresh and new for the season. The second part of design then depends on the brand for which I am designing. Each brand is slightly different. For example, for some of our branded product, we receive color palettes and inspiration for the look they will be producing in their ready-to-wear and other accessories (handbags, shoes, etc.) for the following year. We then take that information and apply it to the frames, so there is a cohesiveness throughout the brand. We take our knowledge of eyewear, trend, fit and quality and combine it with the brand’s DNA. We apply the color palette in a marketable way that flatters the face.
Harvesting Exceptional Quality
Cheryl: How do you ensure the frame not only looks good but will be a good frame?
Jade: We always use the newest materials and acetates available in the market, so we look fresh and sophisticated. Once the specs are complete, our manufacturers produce the initial samples for us to approve and make any revision necessary. Quality is extremely important to CIO, especially since we are founded by an optician and have been manufactured in the US for over 20 years. We know what it takes to make a great quality frame. It’s one of the things that makes our company very unique. At every level of product, we strive to get the best quality possible and are extremely in tune to it. Depending on the brand, once we receive the samples, we present to the brand for approval. Our brands rely on us to come up with great styling while incorporating their point of view.

For our house brand, Colors in Optics, the process is similar. This brand is very important to us because it is what started the company in 1976. We pioneered the use of color in eyewear, therefore anything goes! I can be really wild or conservative depending on the frame. I use vivid colorations and an array of rich tortoises to stay true to the heritage of the brand. Sometimes I’ll focus on a CIO classic like “The Stutz” which we re-launched in 12 colors like cobalt blue, cherry red, violet and black with neon blue. For the sunglasses, I integrate funky lenses like double or triple gradients or mirrored lenses. I name the frames based on the original names from the 70s and 80s if they are a re-launch, or I come up with new names based on our New York heritage or family relatives or friends.
About Colors In Optics
Jade: My father started the company in 1976. He is the president, CEO and also a licensed optician. My mother is the vice president. She is in charge and oversees all design in the company. I focus more on optical, and she focuses more on sun, but we overlap and help each other daily and it’s great.

Another interesting fact: my father’s father was an optometrist and his grandfather and grandmother were also optometrists. That make me fifth generation in the field. It’s in my blood! I live for frames and optics! About four years ago, my husband, William Pike, an attorney, joined our team and is an amazing addition. He works closely with us on a daily basis, and is now an integral part of the company.
One Last Thought: Go Local
As optometrists, we urge our patients to support small businesses, and I have interviewed and met a fair number of families working in practices together, whether it be parent and child or husband and wife or a combination of many family members. It is nice to see that family is also woven into the fabric of Colors in Optics and that thoughtful, creative design paired with hard work and exceptional experience will never go out of style.
Have you ever stopped to think about your frames, where they have come from and the people that stand behind them? How do you support small businesses in your community? In the optical industry?

Cheryl G. Murphy, OD, practices at an independent optometric practice in Holbrook, NY. You can like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @murphyod. To contact her: murphyc2020@gmail.com.

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