Stickle & Strawn Optometry effortlessly pairs rustic elegance with eyecare in British Columbia.
When Stephanie Strawn, OD, and Marc Stickle, OD, met in 2008, little did they know they would own a practice together a few years later. They were both active in the Kelowna, British Columbia, area-Strawn through two local clinics, while Stickle worked at Vivid Laser Centre after previously owning a clinic-and they soon realized they shared the same practice values: providing excellent patient care, building strong community relationships and using the most advanced technology.
When Strawn elected to leave the clinics to care for her newborn daughter, she started working part-time at Vivid Laser Centre, where Stickle worked. Soon, they discussed the opportunity for a practice in West Kelowna, and Stickle & Strawn Optometry was born. “The area was underserved, and no practice would be like the practice we planned to offer,” Strawn said. “We looked at a few properties, and before we knew it we were taking possession and working on construction.”
After deciding on a multi-windowed unit in the heart of the city, they enlisted Barbara Wright Design to develop the floor plan, custom design the front office (optical and reception areas), and devise a color scheme for the entire practice. “Drs. Stickle and Strawn had a specific vision for their practice,” said Wright. “My role as designer was to ferret out the right materials and create the custom design to bring their dream office to life.”
The doctors wanted a Restoration Hardware-inspired look, with smooth patient flow and an efficient use of space. “Our only hesitation was whether it would mesh well with the high technology that we also wanted to include. Barbara Wright did a fantastic job on our colors and the office layout,” said Strawn.
A brick veneer wall, that looks like it’s been there for decades, greets patients as they enter, while metal detailing on the face of the cabinets gave the space an industrial look. The millwork carpenter worked with a metal company to source metal strips that were then acid-etched and affixed with metal studs. The weight of a concrete countertop would have required reinforced cabinetry, so they opted for a concrete laminate with a slab thickness edge that looks very similar and, they say, is often mistaken for concrete.
One design splurge was the decorative lighting, which Strawn purchased herself from Restoration Hardware. “We felt that it would give our office the feel that we wanted. Not a day goes by that we don’t get a comment about our design,” she said.
Once the design was complete, Stickle & Strawn loaded up on high-end instruments, including a Topcon autorefractor/keratometer, pachymeter/NCT, and CV-5000 automated phoropter. They also have an Optos Daytona and a Medmont visual field analyzer, with an eye on installing an OCT soon.
Initially they only equipped one exam lane out of four, but after developing some cash flow, they set up a second lane and added millwork to the other two rooms. An in-office lab and edger were added about six months after opening, making the practice truly full-service. To accommodate the increased traffic, Ryan Ashley, OD, was just hired.
On the frame side, customers do not want for choices. Stickle & Strawn carries around 800 to 900 frames at any given
time. “Because of the design of our office, patients seek us out for more luxury brands,” said Strawn. Tom Ford, Kate Spade, Chloé and Hugo Boss are hot commodities. Maui Jim is also a top seller, owing to the
practice’s location in a lakefront community that offers outdoor activities such as fishing and golf.
Staying active within the community has been a hallmark of Stickle & Strawn. The practice believes in consumer education and has authored articles for local newspapers, hosted office tours, and advised parents of the need for routine eye exams. They also offer job shadowing for students interested in optometry.
“We have an open-door policy with local optometrists, family physicians and patients, and make ourselves as available and approachable as possible,” said Strawn.
Anthony Floreno is editor of Vision Care Venture