Front Row, (l to r) Destiny Page, Dr. Marium Warsi-Zehri and Zach Linville.
Second Row, (l to r) Megan Benson, Alexis Siebert, Stacia Hamilton and Maggie Campbell.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—At Eyes on Trade (EOT), it’s all about teamwork. Marium Warsi-Zehri, OD, a 2016 graduate of the Arizona College of Optometry, heads up the team at the independent, Winston-Salem boutique, but her work is by no means voluntary. The close-knit team at Eyes on Trade is what makes this indie so special—both for those that work there and the community they serve. Practice manager Maggie Campbell, ABOC, found herself working in optical by happenstance nearly a decade ago.

She had worked as a school teacher previously, but making the jump to optical has been a perfect fit for her. For Campbell, connection is the core of everything: from working with patients to creating a work environment that serves everyone. “I love being able to connect with our patients, and curating an environment for our staff that makes it easy to come to work is one of my top priorities,” she told VM. “We all love our jobs, and I think it's easy for our patients to see that when they walk into EOT.”

The EOT team may not be large, but they are mighty, Campbell explained. She offered VM a rundown of the people who make up the special practice: “Stacia: Who has been with EOT since before we opened our doors. She loves making art in her free time, has a keen eye for funky, over the top eyewear, and is the mastermind behind our social media accounts; Alexis, CPO, who is our certified paraoptometric technician, works closely with Dr. Warsi, and keeps the back of the house running smoothly. In their spare time Alexis likes to participate in local theater and has an amazing singing voice. 

“Megan, our Queen of Lensometry who continuously kills it on the sales floor. She is a not-so closeted Harry Potter mega fan; Abi, who is our newest addition, but is seriously a lightning fast learner. She's got five chickens at home!; Destiny: who can sell the heck out of a fashion tint, and as our youngest team member keeps us all up to date on current trends; Zach, our lab tech, who has been in the industry for several years and always keeps us laughing with his quick wit and, of course, Dr. Marium Warsi-Zehri, who is our on-site optometrist and makes all of our patients feel at home. She likes spending time with her family, and picking up as many hobbies as possible.”

For Campbell, keeping EOT an independent practice has allowed these amazing in-store personalities to flourish and do their best work—it also allows the team to bond with patients. “We believe that being an independent optical definitely offers more freedom,” she explained. “We are able to cultivate individual relationships with our frame lines, and hand-curate exactly what we want in the store. We love being able to work with frame lines that we really believe in, and having full confidence in the product that's going home with every patient.”

Independence also means the Eyes on Trade team can make their own marketing decisions—something Campbell says helps the practice tailor their decisions to their specific, local community. Being a small practice can mean that large-scale, multi-channel advertising campaigns are out of the question (and unnecessary), but the Eyes on Trade team focuses instead on word of mouth, reviews and social media to make their mark. Campbell explained that the team strives to “make sure that we provide the atmosphere, optical knowledge, killer product, and stellar customer service to earn that from our patients. Everything in our office is intentional. We're aiming for a ‘wow’ from the moment you first see our window displays, to the time you take your eyeglasses home.”

Community is vital for the Eyes on Trade team, too, both inside the office and out. Campbell said that community involvement is a major part of the practice’s mission statement, and with the practice located in Winston-Salem’s downtown Art District they can take part in many community events. The practice stays open late during First Friday Gallery Hops, sets up a table on the street for Pride and always dresses up for downtown trick-or-treaters—they’ve even hosted several non-optical community events in-store, and coordinated sales events to benefit local charities. 

Eyes on Trade doesn’t just connect with their community in person, though—a robust social media presence sometimes helps bridge the gap between the practice and patients. Campbell explained, “Our Instagram presence definitely plays a part. So much of how people connect with their communities in the modern era happens digitally. We strive to make our social media presence feel less like a marketing ploy, and more like a friendship. 

“I think our customers appreciate it—they know that our social media is always up to date, and that it reflects not only what is going on in-store, but often what's happening downtown as well. We have customers in-store comment on things that they saw on our Instagram daily—whether it be fun new frames, educational content, us being silly, or just being excited over recognizing their friends among our patients. It is a truly fantastic tool for community building when utilized correctly.”

Eyes on Trade has been a staple in downtown Winston-Salem since it first opened four years ago, and has been locally voted “Best Place to Buy Eyeglasses” in town every year since. It is a practice that values community and connection first and foremost—both among the staff and between staff and patients. Campbell concluded, “We are passionate about glasses, and creating a customer experience that goes above and beyond. Our customers truly feel like family. We just celebrated our 4th birthday and I feel so lucky to have a staff who believes in Eyes on Trade as much as I do.”