Madeleine Kruhsberg has been an Optical Retail Business Alliance (ORBA) supporter since its beginning. In fact, she has the honor of being the very first ORBA member. As a member of its Advisory Committee, Kruhsberg has been a valuable part of the ORBA team. In this role, she’s contributed a host of ideas, attended the group’s Webinars, suggested content for the Web site, and participated in the forum topics on the blog section of the site.
GETTING HER START
Born in Sweden, Kruhsberg came to the U.S. in 1971 as an exchange student and graduated high school in Michigan in 1972. She returned home after her school visa expired but returned as a nanny for a family in Bethesda, MD. Kruhsberg was subsequently married, got her green card, and managed a pet hotel but wanted something more challenging. Responding to an ad for a receptionist at Voorthuis Opticians in Washington, DC, in 1978, she soon discovered that she loved the people part of the business and started working as an optician trainee. Kruhsberg stayed with Voorthuis Opticians for 10 years and when she left, she was assistant general manager for 12 stores. Moving to Virginia, she worked for Traylor Optical Company in the Norfolk area, where she got her license. She then opened her own store named Seldon Optique in the Virginia Beach area in 1989, which she had for 14 years.
Seldon Optique was an upscale optical shop where Kruhsberg utilized her fashion skills along with her optical know-how in order to help people see well and look good. “Eyewear dispensing is my passion,” she explained. “It’s so much fun to create vision for people and I love both the technical aspects of the lenses and the beauty of the frames. I love high-end eyewear and I appreciate the quality of this eyewear category.” At a time when most optical companies were owned by men, Kruhsberg found herself as the only woman in the Guild of Prescription Opticians. “I’ve never been concerned about taking a risk and I’ve always done what I wanted to do,” she mentioned.
After closing Seldon Optique, she moved to NJ, then to NY, and finally found herself relocating to Denver, CO, to be close to the mountains. She opened Optique of Denver in downtown Denver—a high-end optical shop that caters to upper-middle and luxury clients with high-quality, unique eyewear products.
ON BEING AN ORBA MEMBER
In speaking about ORBA, Kruhsberg explained that, “When I had my store in Virginia, I was part of an eight-member management group where we shared information and learned from each other. ORBA provides a similar opportunity for opticians. It’s so much fun to communicate with other optical business owners and discuss ideas through ORBA. For example, one female business owner in Virginia wanted to know how to incorporate an optometrist into her business. She asked the question in the blog section of the ORBA Web site and received some very good tips from other ORBA members. That’s the kind of thing that makes ORBA so helpful. There are also some helpful resources on the site in the Resources area. Optical offices really need a national group like ORBA to help them with the business issues they face daily.”
Ed De Gennaro is Director, Professional Content of First Vision Media Group and Executive Director of ORBA.