‘COOL, CLASSIC AND COMFORTABLE’

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Velo Optics frames not only feel good on the face but also update classic ‘60s eyewear designs with a cool aesthetic.

Asimple conversation about how they felt there was a lack of stylish eyewear for presbyopic men led Greg Hofeldt, MD, and Chris Covello, OD, to launch Velo Optics. Working in the same Massachusetts eyecare practice, the ophthalmologist and the optometrist merged their artistic interests to remedy this situation and launched a new eyewear line that now encompasses both men’s and women’s frames.

Launched in 2016, Velo Optics is not only available from their practice, Center for Sight in Fall River, MA, but the line is also available at four other locations, another one in Massachusetts and three in Rhode Island. “This soft launch will be followed by four to five more optical shops next month, see what it takes to maintain those, then add four to five more opticals at a time,” Hofeldt told VCPN.

“We’ve done well so far with reorders from each location,” Covello added. “We plan to branch out soon, but first we’ll keep it to some of the more local places, support them to see what styles work and build the brand.”

The name for the frame line came about as serendipitously as the conversation that launched it. “The name Velo is a shortened version of Covello, and Velo is also the word in French for competitive cycling,” Hofeldt said.
“Which is something I do,” Covello added, saying that he cycles 50 to 100 miles every week. A subtle yet distinctive bicycle chain link icon on the front of every frame references the name.

The journey from idea to reality led Hofeldt and Covello to learn about computer-aided design (CAD) and the 3D printing of prototypes to investigating manufacturing opportunities the world over, from the U.S. to Italy to Japan and ultimately to China. “We first spoke with many places in the U.S., which were either inundated with work or cost prohibitive,” Hofeldt said. “Then we went to Italy, which told us, ‘If you want well made frames we send ours to China,’ and then we went to Japanese manufacturers, and they said their best factories are also in China. So we talked to I don’t know how many manufacturers and trialed five manufacturers until we found the right company in China, which is doing nice work for us.”

Currently, the styles are all made from acetate but will eventually incorporate metal and possibly wood as well. To develop them, Covello tapped into his design background (he had illustrated textbooks in college), taught himself CAD and took advantage of 3D-printing technology to create some prototypes. Working all day in an eyecare practice gave them a captive audience of test models.

“We look at frames on faces all day and noticed subtle ways that they don’t fit with bridges that are too small, eye sizes too large and temples that are way too short,” Covello said.

They designed hundreds of 3D-printed models and started trying them on friends and family. “We liked the idea of 3D printing because you can really get a sense of what you’re creating, but it excessively irritated our families when we kept asking them to try on frames,” Covello said.

Marketed under the tagline “cool, comfortable and classic,” Velo Optics styles are a play on classic ‘60s eyewear designs, making them more modern and up-to-date. Velo Optics’ newest line will be out in the next couple of months.

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