REYER & LIEZEL LAFEBER

At the beginning of 2018, Liezel and Reyer Lafeber sold their 10 successful opticians to focus on one new store here in the Leidsche Rijn City Center in Utrecht. And that's not just any store... they like to see it as a society. Text: Bart-Jan Brouwer
Image: John van Helvert
Online editing: Mical Joseph

Society

“We started our own business 27 years ago, with the idea of ​​making a difference in optics. We have built a company with fifteen stores in the higher segment. We are also co-founder of Eyescan, a chain of top-level eye care clinics. At a certain point we were not satisfied with how things were going in the stores. The people who worked there did not do what we wanted, so we did not reach the level we had in mind. In 2018 we sold everything and decided to build a store in the Leidsche Rijn City Center that did not yet exist. What we lacked in terms of optics is passion for the profession and the ability to convey that to consumers. In the regular optician's shop it's only about cheap and free glasses, we believe in quality.”

High-quality brands

“The Optical Society covers almost 500 square meters of optical experience and offers a unique collection. Sometimes you see a brand like Dita or Cartier somewhere, but you never come across an optical company that only has such high-quality brands. Here you will find Chanel, Thom Browne, Mykita, Eyevan, Lindberg, Cazal, Lunor, etc. The lower limit is formed by Ray-Ban and Prada. We don't have cheap glasses, we're not good at that either. You won't find anything like The Optical Society anywhere else. For us it is not about numbers and margins. The production time for one Dita pair of glasses is five to six days – that's how much manual work goes into it. Each Rolf pair of glasses is unique and has a completely wooden frame. If you look at the details of an Eyevan: how it is made, the attention given to it. A Vue d'Or is made of gold and is made entirely by hand. Those are no longer glasses, those are heirlooms! Manufacturing such glasses is so different from the factory process of liquid plastic in a mold and, go!, another hundred thousand pairs of glasses roll off the conveyor belt. We want to build something that we can really help the consumer with. And if a frame is not a success, it is removed from the range and we replace it with another one. This is how we keep the collection fresh in the store. Our goal is to become the best-known, largest and most prominent optics store in the Netherlands.”

cosiness

“In addition to glasses and contact lenses, we also offer other solutions, such as laser eye treatment or implant lenses. I have the latter myself. Because we are involved with Eyescan, I know that the results are incredibly beautiful: no complications, high customer satisfaction... That's what I wanted too. I no longer wear glasses, at most for fashion reasons. I see so clearly with my implant lenses! Up close and far. In addition to viewing solutions, we offer fashion. We can advise on this. For example, glasses can make a face fuller and accentuate it. Many people have two different halves of the face, which makes it difficult to find suitable glasses. We have a solution for that: the first tailor-made 3D print shop in Europe, from Yuniku. We use ultra-modern 3D technology to scan facial features, after which the most comfortable glasses are tailor-made.”