OQ Creator Spotlight 5 - Bethany Fothergill: OQ Optometrists don’t wear lab coats.

OQ Creator Spotlight 5 - Bethany Fothergill: OQ Optometrists don’t wear lab coats.

National Eye Health Week’ takes place across the UK from 18th-24th September. A cause Ollie Quinn is eager to support and educate customers about. Why? Because we just bloomin’ love eyes!

We took the opportunity to speak with certified Ollie Quinn Optometrist Bethany Fothergill -  our ray of sunshine from Liverpool and self-confessed ‘eye geek’, to learn more about eye health care, her artistic passions, and how she began working at OQ.

Beth, you are the Optometrist at Ollie Quinn’s Spitalfields London boutique. Talk us through the path you took?

At school I was always pretty good at maths and biology, so a teacher suggested I consider optometry. From there it began!  Following a 4-year study period at The University of Manchester plus a pre-reg placement practice, I became a qualified optician working in multiple companies of varying sizes.

After a while, I started to become tired of the traditional optics industry and craved change. A friend said they had discovered “the coolest” optics boutique and urged me to check it out. That cool optic boutique happened to be our location in Neal St, Covent Garden.

Fast forward and I became an Ollie Quinn Optometrist! I felt inspired and passionate about my career again - I was given a voice, alongside the opportunity to be creative and have involvement in a small company with big dreams.

I love working at the OQ Spitalfields boutique. Our store manager Ale and the entire team are so friendly that it’s easy to have a good time with colleagues and customers. It makes my job a joy.

Educate us on National Eye Health Week. What’s the low-down and how can we all look after our eyes in this digital world where we stare at screens 24/7?

People who work on computers report a high level of job-related eye health complaints & symptoms, including ocular discomfort, headaches, blurred vision plus muscular strain and stress. So much so that 40% of British adults suffer from screen related eye issues, according to the Royal college of Optometrists. A  tailored assessment of computer-related symptoms should be incorporated into every routine eye examination, in addition to mandatory health screening provisions.

At no additional cost to the regular eye examination charge of £20, OQ boutiques across the UK will be offering an additional augmented eye examination to clients, including a tailored assessment of computer-related symptoms throughout National Eye Health week (18th-24th Sept).

Some additional preventative measures are:
  • - Choosing prescription lenses with an advanced filter
  • - Wearing high-quality, anti-reflective, scratch-resistant lenses
  • - Taking screen breaks every 30 minutes
  • - Using artificial tear supplements for dry eye relief.
  • - Oral omega 3 supplements for dry eye symptoms

How would you say working as an Optometrist at OQ differs from other places you have worked in the past?

At OQ I’m not trapped in a dark room all day, like other offices I have experienced. I have the opportunity to provide a start-to-finish service and build great relationships with customers. Following the optical tests, I’m able to help the customer select the correct frames to suit their needs and style, which is a privilege as it’s such a personal experience for each individual walking through the door and it allows me to use my creative eye.

It’s also brilliant to have involvement in the wider company - from product development discussions with the senior team, photoshoots, OQ events and even selecting music we play in-store (Beth is a fan of anything with a soulful groove).

"At OQ, the entire company really believes in what we sell; genuine, high-quality products designed for us, by us."

Excuse the bluntness of this question, but Optometrists have unfairly received a reputation of being ‘uncool’. Clearly, this isn’t the case with you or any other Ollie Quinn optometrist. Why is that, and how can we squash that opinion? (Beth laughs at this question and shrugs her shoulders with a cheeky grin).

You think I’m cool? Well, I actually LOVE all the ‘geeky’ aspects of my job and all of the detail of eye care. At OQ, the focus is on providing amazing eye tests, championing creativity, and providing professional, honest advice in relation to frames and style. 

"Optometry is changing, and we don’t need a lab coat to do our job well. At OQ we swap the formal suit for a jazzy jumpsuit and a big grin."

#createyourownvision is the OQ ethos - in which ways do you channel your creativity?

I guess you could call me ‘arty’ as I really enjoy painting and drawing. At the moment I’m working on some large format acrylic prints. My style is quite whimsical as I lean towards using lilacs and pastels, but feature bold black graphics too. It’s my way of relaxing-  I “switch off’ by painting in my room.

Can you pinpoint your favourite things about work?

“Eyes are beautiful and I get to gaze into them all day.” (Beth giggles as she realises how cheesy that sounds out loud. Sorry, Beth, that quote is a keeper).

I get to meet a whole host of interesting people every day. From actors & artists to academics & creatives. It’s always a treat to follow the customer’s journey, especially when they have never worn glasses before, and get really excited about the styles we select together. Once their glasses arrive, they return to collect them and it’s lovely to see how thrilled they are to realise they can now see clearly.

A lot of the time, new clients didn’t know they needed glasses. Many people mention the leaves on trees, which they hadn’t been able to see before!

As a glasses wearer myself, I have a huge interest in frame design and the composition, fit, eye shape, and styling that is unique to each customer.

What advice do you have for anyone considering this career? 

It’s crucial to be a confident person in this profession. You need to have the ability to take charge and be self-assured in your capabilities. We have a great time but at the end of the day, I’m providing an important professional service for eye health and sight.

Cheers Beth, thumbs up to being the spiciest optical champ we know!

Click HERE to shop this season’s must-have frames ‘The Bethany’. Designed in a flattering feminine shape to accentuate cheekbones and provide what our Beth refers to as ‘a little facelift’.

And, if you would like to learn more about National Eye Health Week and issues relating to digital eye health, please click HERE to discover how Ollie Quinn is providing support throughout this period.