Back in June of 2009, when I first started TC CHARTON and founded Prologue Vision, I had a vision for the future.
I’d work really hard for three years, introduce the line to the industry and to my fellow Asian Americans and show them the amazing benefit of wearing eyewear that really fits. Eventually, people will start to demand better fitting products and other companies will start paying more attention to the needs of consumers with Asian features. Once the bigger companies start to have their own versions of Asian fit eyewear, it will be time for me to squeeze out of the game.
Back then, I truly believed TC CHARTON would not be able to withstand the fierce competition of the power houses that own all the big international licensed brands. Time and time again people insisted that Asian people ONLY want to wear Big Brands and Big Logos.
It was discouraging at times, but I remember telling them and myself:
“I am Asian, and I never care about the big logos. I cannot be the only one. There’s gotta be other like-minded Asians out there. I care about good fitting, great quality products above all things, whether they are shoes, or clothes or glasses.”
Just as I predicted, other eyewear companies, big or small, started to follow suit. Many of them have introduced styles with higher nose pads, and they all claimed to have Asian fit.
When I first heard about this, I panicked. But only briefly. I quickly learned that, NO other collection offers what we offer: a complete collection with over 150 styles—-for women, men, teens, kids, and babies. Time and time again I hear opticians and optometrists telling me that no other products fit their Asian patients as well as ours.
Show after show, meeting after meeting, we are greeted with encouragement and positive feedback.
And now, 10 shows and 6 years later, we are still around.
So, as we wrapped up the presentation of our new Fall/Winter 2015 collection at Vision Expo West, we were elated with the turnout. Our model, Tim, who flew in from Los Angeles, was a huge hit at both the booth and our cocktail party in our suite at the Venetian Hotel. We got to hang out with some of our existing accounts, and meet new ones that want our products in their stores. And most importantly, people LOVED the new styles.
People often ask me: “Why do your products fit so much better? What’s your secret?”
There’s no secret. I am Asian, and I study Asian faces. This is all I do, and I intend to do it the best of my ability. This is not an afterthought. This collection represents everything I believe in – to be the change I want to see. I am always listening to what consumers and opticians have to say. That’s why I love meeting consumers at the trunk shows, and I love talking to the opticians and asking for their feedback.
I attend the Vision Expos each year, not merely to use it as a platform to showcase our newest styles, but to get the opportunity to make a personal connection with eye care professionals. I take their opinions to heart and then I turn around and work harder to meet their needs.
Until next show.
We are always excited to be part of Vision Expo East (VEE) the largest optical show here in the Big Apple every March, drawing over 30,000 eye care professionals, the movers and shakers of the optical industry. This year VEE was not different but yet, it was, since Asian in New York hosted a media reception so I could meet the Chinese news media.
I still cannot believe we were able to pull this off—as Diana had just a few days to put together a press release, contact journalists from different news organizations, and prepare the media reception. Little did I know that the turnout would be many of the invited press—-including ALL of the biggest names in Chinese news media? I thought we might end up having 3 or 4 journalists, at most, so we had set aside one hour for me to give a brief product presentation and Q&A. But after the introduction, each media outlet wanted a separate interview and the reception lasted almost 4 hours!
I did not take this opportunity to tell them how great our products are. What I did, however, was to really emphasize my journey—how I came to the realization that wearing an ill-fitted pair of glasses could actually impact how one sees her self-image, from a beauty standpoint; it is not our facial features that are at fault, and no, we do not need plastic surgery to reshape ourselves. Also, there are functional reasons why glasses need to fit, such as the importance of fitting children with glasses that won’t slide down, in order to truly correct their vision, and also wearing a pair of sunglasses that won’t slide down from your bridge since there is less protection from the UV rays around the delicate eye area.
I spoke to them about my passion, and I hope they heard and felt what I was trying to convey. This is not about creating just another brand of eyewear. It is NOT about ME, as a designer. This is bigger than me. It is about how we see ourselves in a world where the beauty standard is still largely Eurocentric. This is about being able to see better, and feel better.
The very next day, each one of those interviews turned into a feature story: MSN.com, Yahoo news, Sing Tao Daily, ETTV, The Epoch Times, WZRC Station, The Central News Agency of China, World Journal and more. The TV footage also aired in Taiwan and China the day after the media reception. I was thrilled to have the chance to be able to speak directly to the Chinese speaking consumers in my mother tongue, their own language. I hope some of them heard me, and will remember to demand their opticians for a pair of glasses that truly fit.
Asians all across the land, I know you’ve probably got a happening thing going on tonight for the 4th…but while you’re resting your feet somewhere drinking a spritzer, tune into the debut of the A-Style, a reality show shot in NYC featuring Asian Americans who didn’t listen to their moms and dads to become lawyers and doctors. We’re talking about Asian Americans striving to make it in show biz.
I am going to give credit where credit is due. Team TC Charton worked their butts off at Style360. While there was little downtime to actually run around the city, we did manage to get to Laduree (mmmm!) It’s those kinds of little luxuries that can make you forget the pinched toes, leg cramps and dry mouth that comes with wo-manning a busy booth at NY Fashion Week.
Our last night, Alexandra took us to her favorite Brazilian Steak House, Plataforma in the Theater District. Initally, the thought of eating at an all-you-can-eat meat place called up images of the unfortunate sequence of events in the movie “Bridesmaids.”
However, once we arrived at the restaurant, I searched for the “A” grade in the window, found it and happily went in to tie one on. The West Coasters weren’t familiar with the NYC grading system so I had to explain it to them. It’s like this. “A” means, no problem! Eat here and be well. But a B, C or Grade Pending is a bit more ambiguous. It can mean a minor offense like the wrong ceiling tile in the kitchen or it can mean “eat at your own risk.” Aaaaanyways, the food was delicious and I highly recommend this crazy steakhouse where men bring you large skewered slabs of meat. I am convinced Alexandra should get checked for tapeworm. She ate so much steak, where did it go?
Wrapped up our last day at Style360. Our first NY Fashion Week experience was amazing. It’s so incredible to see all the planning, work and stress that goes into making a show happen. Here’s a recap of some of the highlights from Day 1.
Irina Pantaeva stopped by and tried on some TC Chartons. I was awestruck by her. To me she is unforgettable because she is one of the first Asian supermodels. Growing, there weren’t a lot of beautiful Asians on TV. I remember watching her on MTV House of Style. Irina tried on the Agnes and the Angel! She was so glad that they fit so perfectly on her features. We sent her off with the Agnes and the Angel to take with her on vacation to Puerto Rico.
We got a seat to Project Runway contestant Malan Breton’s show. Alexandra and Malan got a chance to meet.
Remember Toccara Jones from Season 3 of America’s Next Top Model? You so wanted her to win because she wanted it so much and she was living proof that you didn’t have to be a stick to be gorgeous. She was rocking a Foxy Brown look and the Crystal!
Speaking of ANTM. Eva Marcille walked the Bebe Black show. Love her and so does the camera. It is impossible to take a bad photo of her.
So many editors and bloggers stopped by TC Charton. They were so encouraging and many, not just Asians, were thrilled by the fit of the glasses. It’s so great being able to introduce our collection to so many different people.
TC Charton Asian Fit Eyewear will be presented by Prologue Vision at the International Vision Expo in New York. If you are heading to New York, please come visit us!
International Vision Expo and Conference, New York
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
Eyewear & Accessory Pavilion
Booth #: 2482
Mar 18 – 20, 2011
See you there!
For information, call (408) 752-0220
See “Where to Buy” at www.tc-charton.com