“Every face deserves beautiful glasses”
Alicia Hartman, optometrist and owner of the Eye Q Barbados practice, and founder of eyewear brand, Peoples from Barbados, tells OT about her long-established interest in eyewear
18 December 2021
How many pairs of spectacles and sunglasses do you own?
Not enough. I have as many pairs as I have shoes; my two favourite accessories. I am a minimalist with jewellery, so my eyewear, lip colour, and shoes make the statement.
What frame shapes, colours or styles do you usually go for personally?
It depends on what ‘version’ of Alicia I want to portray on the day. I like oversized frames that are lightweight and comfortable. The shape varies with my mood. I do like cat's eyes with a feminine look, and square or angular frames for a more sporty-chic vibe.
From fisher folk to aristocrats. The store is an eyewear emporium curated to complement and enhance their features
Can you describe your favourite pair?
My favourite is our Peoples from Barbados model ‘PFB-03’ in olive and tortoiseshell. It's an oversized round frame with a cat's eye 'peek-a-boo' effect. It's totally unique.
Who would you pick as your style icon of glasses wearers and why?
My practice clients: the Eye Q people. The diversity of my clientele is exquisite and so special. From fisher folk to aristocrats. The store is an eyewear emporium curated to complement and enhance their features.
I love the eyewear stories they have for me when they go beyond the shores of the island. It usually goes like this: "OMG! Immigration asked me where I got my glasses before they asked me for my passport. Then they asked: ‘Where is Barbados?’"
How long have you worn spectacles for, and what prompted you to go for your first sight test?
I grew up around eyewear from the age of 13, as my family has one of the oldest optical practices in Barbados – with an incredible history of eye care and ability to communicate the importance of eye health at the root of their values. Even as an apprentice, there was nothing better than being witness to the client receiving the gift of sight for the first time, then watching the journey of their eyewear style over the years.
My family has one of the oldest optical practices in Barbados – with an incredible history of eye care and ability to communicate the importance of eye health at the root of their values
Do you wear contact lenses?
No, I have mild astigmatism and presbyopia so I am a part-time prescription eyewear user. I love glasses, they are part of my style. However, I do recommend contact lenses to many of my clients as well – even to those who wear glasses full-time, particularly now we are wearing masks so much. It is a very convenient choice. The new contact lenses are comfortable, so I say ‘yes’ to contact lenses.
What sparked your interest in designing your own frames?
I wanted to create glasses to fit Afro Caribbean faces and also to include our rich diversity of visitors to the island.
The Peoples from Barbados collection was created as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Barbados, with charity portraits and local Bajan celebrities as part of the campaign. The vision of the collection grew from a bigger purpose to showcase culture and Bajan lifestyle through eyewear.
There is so much inspiration of colour, form and texture in Barbados, which comes out in the collection. We have much more of this to come, soon, and in the future.
There is so much inspiration of colour, form and texture in Barbados
How does your work as an optometrist inform your design, and where do you draw your inspiration?
The details of fit, form, and function are all in the DNA of the brand. Our designs are inspired by the beautiful diversity of Caribbean faces, and variety of colour tones and shapes. We have created a line that it is also an exciting discovery for the visitors to the island. Every face deserves beautiful glasses.
What made London the ideal location for your latest eyewear campaign?
The connection between Barbados and London is strong in history and in the culture of our island. The nostalgia and romance between the two countries is the inspiration here. The secret, whimsical North London gardens created the perfect backdrop, with a hint and reminder of the beautiful Hunte's Gardens in the centre of our island.
What effect did COVID-19 have on your businesses? How have you adapted to the challenges of the pandemic?
Of course it has been hard. I stayed engaged and connected with my teams and clients. The beauty of island life is the sense of community and family, and that is something to hold on to, in every situation. I used the time when we were closed in lockdown to develop our website and online focus, and we invested in our own in-store lens lab. We will come out of this with an even better EYE Q experience.
What are your top tips for selecting the right pair of frames?
Fit. Form. Fashion. Function.