Kimberly Phillips-Stewart, OD, had all of the details picked out for her future practice before she and husband Chris Stewart, OD, even found a space for it. Dr. Phillips-Stewart tucked away ideas during those first few years following their 2013 graduation from Southern College of Optometry. As they paid down their student loan debt, they scouted the Ovieda, Florida, community for the perfect place to open a practice of their own.
They found it in 2017 when her husband drove by a standalone building with a dentist’s office and noticed a vacant space next door. “When that opportunity arose to rent a wonderful place close to home, we said, ‘Let’s do it,’” Dr. Phillips-Stewart recalls.
The process moved along quickly once they secured a contractor to build out the 2,000-square-foot empty shell. Dr. Phillips-Stewart chose a modern style that is carried throughout the entire space with light gray and white and pops of navy and brass details. “The office is very serene, welcoming and light,” Dr. Phillips-Stewart says.
All patients and customers are greeted warmly when they arrive. “We know their families and about their kids and their graduations. I wanted patients to feel relaxed when they come in, like they’re visiting friends and they can pick out frames and get their eyes checked while they are here.” There’s music playing to make patients feel comfortable and at home, and the photos of the Stewarts’ dog, Winston, wearing a variety of eyewear styles are sure to bring out a smile in all of their visitors, young and old.
The clean look in the optical allows the eyewear to show itself without any point-of-purchase materials or banners. The frames pop against the white shelving, and Dr. Phillips-Stewart tours patients through the space, introducing them to the brands they carry, where they are from and the stories behind them. She personally picks out the frames along with their team member Mercy Lopez.
One of the most impressive pieces of technology for patients may be their smallest instrumentation purchase in terms of size and price tag: the Icare Tonometer. Patients love it, she says. Another great investment was their in-office edger, which was a recommended purchase by the team at Icare Advisors, who helped ease them through their cold start. “They were wonderful as we were starting the practice and fulfilling our dream,” she says. Her husband goes in early every morning to complete the lab work for the day. “We have a wonderful turnaround, and patients get their eyeglasses typically that day or the next.”
The practice opened its doors in August 2017. As the practice grows, Dr. Phillips-Stewart looks forward to continuing to expand and provide thorough medical services (they added an OCT around the one-year mark). They are considering adding vision therapy services as well as another doctor to the team. “My husband and I enjoy our jobs so much, and it’s fun to go to work in our private practice where we make the schedule on our terms,” she says. That allows them to spend as much time as possible with their three young children.
Thank You Mentor
Dr. Kimberly Phillips-Stewart grew up in Orlando, Florida, and after she shadowed local optometrist, Amy Ward, OD, she knew that her career would be in the profession of optometry. It offered her all that she wanted: an opportunity in a medical field and flexibility for family without on-call hours. “I fell in love with optometry.”