Home Design Inspirations See Easy Eyecare: A Speakeasy Space

See Easy Eyecare: A Speakeasy Space

Just off the northeast coast of Florida sits Amelia Island, a chunk of land 13 miles long (about the length of Manhattan) and 4 miles wide, with a largely retired population of less than 40,000. When Tonia Bradley, OD, moved there seven years ago from Kentucky, she had sold her practice to private equity to chase “the coast and the sun.”

(r-l) Gillian Potchen, optician; Summer Perry, patient coordinator; Kelly Mazar, technician; Dr. Tonia Bradley; Kevin Schrick, manager

STARTING FRESH

Dr. Bradley moved to the sunshine state “without knowing a soul.” She joined another private practice full-time and eventually became partner. In her free time, she explored another passion of hers by starting the “Bourbon Society,” a meetup group for lovers of the dark liquor. She quickly met many lifelong friends and her now-husband, Kevin.

When Dr. Bradley was ready, she found that buying a space would be cheaper in the long run than paying inflated rental rates. When a standalone building on the main road and just a mile from the ocean went up for sale, she applied for a business loan. She was denied.

“The timing was perfect,” Dr. Bradley says. “I told myself, you’ll have to do this either without a bank loan or not do it at all.” She closed on the 2,500-square-foot space on her birthday—August 11, 2023—and cut the ribbon on See Easy Eyecare February 13.

WORKING WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT

No help from the bank meant a large remodel was out of the budget, Dr. Bradley says. But that seemed to be the go-to piece of advice she received. “I met with lots of optometry remodel companies and everyone said to gut it and start fresh,” she says. “The bones were too good to do that.” Instead, Dr. Bradley worked with friends in the industry to come up with a floor plan. She credits one of her VSP representatives, Fred, for talking her into moving the lab, and she found a local architect and contractor to tear down four walls and build two new.

Still seeing patients at her old practice up until Halloween 2023, Dr. Bradley spent most of November “strategizing, picking out frame lines, creating an employee manual, interviewing potential staff members, attending Vision Expo and begging the county for a permit.” Her crew—including her handy husband—finished the redesign in less than three weeks.

THE SEE EASY SPEAKEASY

A lover of warm spaces and good liquor, Dr. Bradley says she wanted the office to have “good, quiet vibes. What would quickly ruin that is a phone blowing off the hook.” She decided to hire a 100% remote receptionist. “This isn’t something that’s done all the time, but it worked for our situation,” she says. She found Patrick, a receptionist with eight years of optical experience, and he now gets all calls fielded to his phone at home.

Freelancers were used to help design the logo and website—including LogoMyWay and Fiverr—and a consultant from One Interiors brought Dr. Bradley’s vision to life. “When I saw the first mockup, it was the first time I actually got excited,” she says. Lush fabrics, warm colors and soft lighting were used to create a feeling of “affordable luxury,” including pieces from Wayfair, Walmart, Overstock, Target and Ikea.

The space now holds two fully equipped exam lanes, with room for a third, and an on-site lab. A “huge” green couch sits by the front door with crown molding framing the ceiling and wainscoting lining the optical. Her husband built the front desk and shelf displays using the “Ikea arch hack,” and a painting of Abraham Lincoln receiving an eye exam hangs near the entrance. Reclaimed wood from a friend’s grandpa’s barn was used to create shelving, and fun décor dots the entire space, including a bronze rabbit head wearing a monocle mounted to the wall and two recreations of famous paintings by a local artist—Mona Lisa and the Girl With the Pearl Earring.

BUBBLES, BOURBON AND BEER

The house Bourbon of See Easy Eyecare.

Dr. Bradley says she’s formed friendships with many of her patients that share her love of a good drink. In fact, patients are able to choose from a selection of champagne, beer or the “bourbon of the month” while they browse for frames. “Drinks are only allowed after an exam,” Dr. Bradley insists. She recently had a patient bring in a bottle of whiskey for her to sample—at 9 a.m. “I appreciated the thought, but I had to wait until the end of the day to try it!”

While most of her patients are of age and enjoy the complimentary drinks, she also treats kids. “I’m happy to see anyone,” she says. “That’s why I went with ‘See Easy Eyecare’; I want to help who I can and make the process as easy as possible.”

 

Check out See Easy Eyecare on Facebook and Instagram, or online at seeeasy.ai.

 

See other design stories here.


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