I am so excited to bring you this interview today, Dr. Canto-Sims is not only an Optometrist but also a total Jefa (boss). She is one of the most kind & hard working women I know and feel so lucky to call her a friend. She is the fabulous woman behind La Vida Eyewear an eyewear line curated for Latin/Indigenous community, with styles like "The Jefa & La Chingona" this is an eyewear line to be seen and worn.
It is with great joy that I present to you my interview with Dr. Canto-Sims
- Introduce yourself & tell us about your background:
My name is Diana Canto-Sims. I'm an Optometrist and co-own Buena Vista Optical in Chicago with my husband of 21 years.
My background is Chicago, born, and Mexi-rrican raised. My mom came from Tampico, Tamaulipas Mexico to the US in the 1960''s and my dad came to the US from Manati, Puerto Rico in the 1950s.
Together, they opened a bakery in the heart of the city in the early 1970s.
They retired in 1985 and went to live in Puerto Rico, where I finished high school and optometry school.
I met my husband, Todd Sims, when he was doing his residency in optometry school in Puerto Rico. Together we decided we wanted to help the Spanish-speaking community in the US by moving back to Chicago and opening our practice cold.
- When did you first decide that you wanted to launch your own eyewear line?
After opening our practice, we noticed that the eyewear currently available did not fit our patients well. After a couple of years, we decided we had to do something. We couldn't be the only practice that had this issue.
- Why did you decide to create an eyewear line specifically for the Latin community?
Our practice's patient demographic is mostly Latino, indigenous, black American, and people of color.
Frame styles were not wide enough and came in unflattering colors and styles. It was exhausting looking for frame styles that they loved and fit well. We had enough case studies and feedback from our patients to start La Vida eyewear.
When the trend of buying glasses online started, we knew we had to offer unique frames not sold over the internet. La Vida eyewear is not sold online because your patients should be styled and fitted by a professional optician. La Vida sends all their online inquiries to their private practices.
- What has been the most challenging part of designing eyewear?
The most challenging part of designing eyewear has been finding the right manufacturer. Language barriers were one challenge. Culture another, and now COVID-19
- How would you describe La Vida?
La Vida Eyewear is a fusion between the love of fashionable eyewear and all things Latino heritage and culture.
- Your eyewear has some really fun names like La Dama, my personal faves La Selena & La Thalia. How do you decide on the final names?
Our heritage runs deep, and La Vida Eyewear frame styles are about more than the way they look. They're tied to meaningful parts of Latin culture.
For example, some of our frame styles are bilingual. They have the words "Hola" and "hello" on the temple tips.
We name some of our frames after empowering Latinas like La Frida and La Selena, like you mentioned.
- Favorite frame in the collection?
I would be lying if I said I only had one favorite style. I can say that our most recent collection has me excited about "La Chingona" in the color Sand. This frame name translated to "The bad ass," and the color is a rich sandy marble with a touch of sparkle in a modified sassy cat-eye shape. I'm obsessed!
- Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the daily feedback of all of our patients. We listen to what they love and what they dislike in eyewear. Then, we come up with eyewear styles in sizes, colors, and shapes that they have been asking for.
- You are an Optometrist, & have your own consulting company, what 3 tips would you recommend to anyone who is balancing their full-time career along with their secondary business?
- Time management is imperative. We all have the same 24 hours in one day. What we do with that time determines our success. I work with a digital calendar and a disk-bound paper planner.
- Pick your battles wisely. You cannot do all things. Focus on what you really want and reverse engineer your lifestyle to achieve those goals.
- Find your dream team. There is no way I could do everything by myself. I would be lying if I told you I am a one-woman show. I have an amazing team of leaders at Buena Vista optical, and my family has supported me in every way possible. My husband helps out with his zone of genius in the business -Finances, processes, and procedures, and my kiddos help a lot by doing my laundry and making me breakfast. I achieve nothing without my team
- What does the future hold for La Vida Eyewear
I will continue creating designs that our patients love and as the spokesperson for La Vida Eyewear. La Vida is currently in the USA, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. We would love to expand to more Latin American countries.
- Where can people find you?
I'm Diana Canto-Sims on Instagram and Facebook, and my email is email@example.com
La vida eyewear instagram is @lavidaeyewear
Thanks to Dr. Canto Sims for sharing so much wonderful insight and if you are looking for a diverse and inclusive frame collection to cater to your Latino, indigenous, or patients of color, consider taking a close look at La Vida eyewear. They're an independent frame line, not sold online directly to your patients, and have a zip code exclusivity program. So you don't have to worry about offering the same frame styles as your competitor down the street.