Eye Love Eyewear: A Determined Journey in the Eyewear Business
By Patricia Rogers
I met Nishaya McNair around the same time I met Marie David. I am proud to say it was during the promotional shoot for Marie’s female empowerment blog, LadiSav. The shoot featured dynamic women who are now LadiSav girls promoting empowerment, education, and camaraderie among women. Now, three years later, we are both further in our careers, and I had the chance to talk to Nishaya about her booming eye business, Eye Love Eyewear.
P.R.: I love to see how far all of the LadiSav girls have come. So, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Nishaya McNair: I grew up in East Orange, NJ with my parents and sister. My parents passed in 2001 and my grandma (mom's mom) came from Passaic to move in with my sister, and I to take care of us. As I grew up, I struggled with emotional issues. I started going to church heavy and got close to God, who freed me from anger, emotional problems, negativity etc. I was an all-around talented individual. I danced (hip-hop, tap, jazz) for eight years, I played basketball, softball and self-studied optics. I always had a great spirit and believed in myself to fullest. I have a huge interest in cooking, having fun, traveling and working for myself. My future plans are set to continue building my empire and eventually get married and have kids. I never thought I would be at this point in my life, living this entrepreneur's lifestyle. Most days are rough, but the other days are joyous. I motivate myself each day, reminding myself, "each day I put in work, elevates me higher to where I need to be." I really thank my family and friends for their continued support and empowerment words on a daily basis.
Why did you want to go into the eyewear business?
I always had big dreams as a city girl. I believe I was gifted with the spirit of entrepreneurship through my father and was fearless in pursuing an untapped market. I sprouted my interested in the optical field at the age of 18 and began taking a career in optics seriously in my early twenties. Passionate, I set my sites on completing my American Board of Optometry - Board certification to dispense eyeglasses. But after failing, I realized this might not be my field.
A year later, I decided to take a different route and began studying the field of optics, the anatomy of the eye and therapeutic vision. Although my initial major was Sociology, the passing of my parents prompted me to tap into my dreams of becoming my own boss. I took a leap of faith and quit my job of six years working in optical in New Jersey, to pursue a career at a larger corporation in Manhattan. My goal was to expand my business knowledge, travel and understand the financial aspect of running a business.
I became a highly noted top saleswoman in my field and although I was making heights in my career, knowing that I was grossing over 1 million dollars for someone else, didn’t quite sit well with me. I went harder on my research and with the help of a good friend, birthed what is now known as Eye Love Eyewear, LLC. Although my friend and I intended to be business partners, my friend made the decision to move forward in a different direction on her own.
How has your journey as a small business owner been?
The journey has been an extreme life lesson. I've learned how my obstacles have turned into reality, my risks have turned into opportunities and my strength became my lifestyle. Every day I prep myself to be consistent & persistent in scheduling my day out. I work literally 24/7 with a nap in between.
"I've learned how my obstacles have turned into reality, my risks have turned into opportunities and my strength became my lifestyle."
— Nishaya McNair, Founder of Eye Love Eyewear, LLC
In 2013 after returning from a company trip, I registered Eye Love Eyewear, LLC (ELE) as a home-based business selling prescription high-end and affordable frames, and sunglasses. The next year, I began networking and making contacts. I set up various e-commerce platforms and found ways to make sales, generating the majority through referral and/or word of mouth. With business expanding quickly, I took another leap of faith, and in March 2014 quit my job to work ELE full-time. This enabled me to join the BCDC program, finishing the studies in Business Management. I also began building my external brand, utilizing various social media platforms to advertise my products. My next stop was trade shows.
Even though I was building my empire for ELE, I was losing control of keeping up with my personal expenses. During the time I wasn't working, ELE wasn't completing my financial needs for business and personal, so I begin to really struggle something serious. I begged and pleaded with the creditors to work with me. I did research to seek programs to help with my personal living. Around that time (2014) of when I was trying to graduate with my business degree, I had a balance owed & never qualified for FAFSA. A good friend helped me complete it while I focused on fighting to get out of my financial crises. At that point, it was the last semester of school and I returned back to work near the end of 2014, but left again in July of 2015 to focus more on my business.
I established an affiliation with a lab in New Jersey in 2013. In the fall of 2015, I became a member of Rising Tide Capital’s Community Business Academy (CBA), to gain more knowledge to scale my business, and as of December 2015, ELE’s income has tripled in the thousands. Yes, ELE was climbing the latter, but the pressure became more and more strong. Thank God I had so much help from family and friends, supporting me to the max. Also, other colleagues who introduced me to different trade shows, entrepreneurs, opportunities and help with business personnel (business plan, business financial ideas, a mini investment). I love and respect everyone to the MAX. It's now 2016. At this point, I came to the conclusion I am all the way in no matter what it takes. I have a great mentor right now, who is currently keeping me level-headed and organized with all my business aspects.
Thanks be to God!
I have experienced the good and bad, the happy and the sad. My journey continues with many more bumps and bruises. Little more tears and decisions. But what is confirmed is God is with me every step of the way.
How has social media powered your business?
Social media has been a tremendous help in my business from various apps to a great marketing plan. ELE is particularly based off of social media. We market through varies customers pages and their word of mouth on their pages. We connect directly with our prospective customers on a daily basis on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We couldn't thank social media enough for such great engagement with our business page. Of course, we have to give thanks to all our supporters & followers from day one.
What/who is your target market?
Based on my experience and research, there is a growing interest in the eyewear fashion market. Under its niche business model, the ELE target base is a specific type or group of customers with unique eyewear needs. ELE’s target market are customers in any age bracket who desire to augment their appearance with glasses. It is also the intention of me to continue to follow this trend and to continue my long-term vision of establishing a storefront. My newest tools are the “word of mouth” incentive program, a holiday program where I provide glasses at no cost to children in need. Due to my extensive work at branding within the first year of launching, I curated the conversation for my business, enabling me to do little to no trade shows, designed a more focused marketing plan and am at the early stages of scaling the ELE business.
What makes Eye Love Eyewear different than other brands online?
Currently, I am developing a good design, easy to navigate, functional, and attractive website with content rich information that will allow interested visitors and current customers to get information on the company’s products offered, blog, and other affiliated links. The website is currently in development and will have a specific user-friendly interface of every company’s eyeglass selection. ELE will have a blog with tutorials to cover eyewear topics such face shapes, eyeglass materials, eyeglass colors, eye health, and wellness. Each potential consumer will have the opportunity to learn how ELE’s products may suit their specific interests. Also, I have the ability to compete and determination to out-sell against rivals by offering better prices and demonstrating a better value proposition.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
In ten years, I see myself owning multiple commercial real estates all over the world. I plan on expanding my sunglass business to franchisees all over the country. ELE will be a mainstream platform nationwide, selling prescription eyewear run by my future kids and family.
What are some of your biggest aspirations?
My biggest aspirations are having faith in God and continuing my purposeful journey in building my empire. Currently, I am working out of Orange/Montclair, NJ and can be found through the following social media platforms:
"Creativity comes from a passion of what you Love"
About the Writer
Patricia Rogers, #ValleyGirlNJ, lives in New Jersey's Valley Arts District. The native New Yorker works as a writer, blogger and community activist. Starting Masconsumption Media in 2012, she has been passionate about capturing the stories of the vibrant up and coming Valley Arts District neighborhood through her blog, zine, events and more. She blogs for Jersey Indie, Luna Stage, and Hat City Kitchen and offers many creative media services. Visit her blog www.masconsumption.com and keep up with your favorite Valley Girl on social media at @valleygirl_nj (Twitter / Instagram).