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Age should not limit your aspirations

As a 26-year-old optical dispenser launching a business, I had a lot of people comment on how young I am. But after the excellent reception Core Optique has received since its launch in July, I can confidently say age doesn’t limit success; what matters are experience, passion and enthusiasm.

I fell into dispensing by chance. I was working in a shopping centre and jumped on board with a new Specsavers that was opening. From there, I fell in love with the industry.

I completed the typical Specsavers training program, but six months in I went out on my own to complete a Certificate IV in dispensing.

From there I worked in a number of different practices, both private and corporate. I found the private clinic environment was a better fit for me, because it ultimately gives you a greater opportunity to personally care for the patients.

I wanted to open my own business because I have a lot of passion for the eye health aspect of the profession. There are so many practices that could do a little more to strike the right balance between eye health and fashion, which is what I wanted to do.

I know that the optical sector has become a lot more challenging financially, but giving customers a different experience can set a practice apart. Going above and beyond to meet a customer’s need, never saying no and creating a great experience is important, because at the end of the day eyewear can be a big expense for people.

With Core Optique we’re taking a holistic approach to the patient’s experience. We really try and find out where their vision needs to go, so we ask a lot of lifestyle questions. What sports do they do? Do they go to the gym? We put out all those feelers so we can prescribe the best product.

There are so many different types of lenses that are often not being used correctly because dispensers are not asking enough questions to find out exactly what is needed. Before someone goes in for their eye examination we sit down with them for a little, so the optometrist is aware of exactly what they’re looking for.

For fashion, we’re trying to create an experience that helps people leave their comfort zone. We see what they were wearing before, how it worked for them, and what they would like different for their next pair. If they’ve been wearing the same pair every single day, they are probably quite tired of the design.

We take a look at what statent they are trying to make, and pick something that is really personal. The store has a sitting area with both handheld and full-length mirrors, giving customers the time and the space to examine several frames and give us feedback. We don’t have the massive range that larger stores have, but our collection is very focused and always changing.

Starting your own business is intimidating, but throughout the process I didn’t really think about that at all. I didn’t want to put anything negative in my mind, because at the end of the day that would only get in the way of success. I’m pretty lucky that my partner works in interior design. Thanks to him knowing a lot of people who could help, the fit-out went very smoothly.

The best thing I could say to someone looking at starting their own practice is to take the risk, but also listen to people in the industry. Find someone that you’re already working with and really try to understand what their experience was.

Ask them what they might have done differently or what went into starting their business. Learning from these people is really beneficial, because it can help you know exactly what the sector was like 20 years ago. I had several people who really helped me a lot in this regard.

For any young dispensers thinking about starting their own practice, age doesn’t need to be a factor. If you’re passionate and really love what you do, you’ll be able to do it.


Name: Corey Hawley

Qualifications: Certificate IV

Workplace: Core Optique

Position: Owner, Dispenser

Location: Sydney, NSW

Years in the profession: 9

 

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