W. Douglas Reinbold vividly recalls a conversation with his mother about 14 years ago, when they were at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, during her treatment. They began to discuss how strong women are when they are sick and how they won’t let an illness get them down. His mother, one of the first female opticians in Canada, asked Reinbold what he planned to do with that knowledge, and he immediately thought of how he could make an impact in the optical industry. With experience in representing various frame lines and managing sales teams, Reinbold envisioned a place just for women to get their eyewear. “One of my favorite quotes is ‘Awareness isn’t enough to initiate change,’ so why not an optical exclusively for women, which we could use as a springboard to help and support different aspects of women’s needs.”
Thirteen years ago, Reinbold, along with his partner Jackie Fox, brought this optical to life when Women With Vision (WWV) opened its doors alongside a large women’s fashion retail store. Just 1,300 square feet, “our boutique was built from scratch with a unique design that evoked style, serenity and uniqueness. We felt that each woman possessed an unknown character element that we wanted to bring out.”
Fox started solo in the optical boutique, and the team quickly grew to four full-time teams. His daughter Brittany joined them in the marketing department, which Reinbold says catapulted to another level. “Our women didn’t want their husbands, boyfriends and co-workers going anywhere else for eyeglasses,” Reinbold explains. So instead of shuttling frames back and forth from their MDO Opticians location in St. Albert, they added more than 500 designs for men in 2009. “Not many men think Women With Vision is a guys’ kind of optical, but, boy, has that changed.”
The office recently expanded to add another 1,700 square feet to the original location. The group also added two lanes for providing eye exams during the renovations. “Sometimes I am amazed at our level of success without doing eye exams, so I’m sure that bigger and better things are ahead,” Reinbold says.
While you won’t see his name listed on the office website—which projects the unique and snappy personality of the WWV team—Reinbold says that he remains very much involved behind the scenes. “They tell me I’m like Charlie from Charlie’s Angels—nobody hears or sees you, but you still give guidance,” he says, laughing. “I have to give all the credit to the amazing team that day in day out delivers a standard of high independent products with the best one-on-one service in the industry.”