Photo Credit: Dr. Juliette Nelson
Haitian American Woman Makes Space For Black-Owned Companies In The Eyewear Industry
After spending a year teaching abroad in South Korea, Dr. Juliette Nelson, Ph.D. developed a passion for fashionable eyewear that would spill over into her professional life. A prescription eyeglass wearer herself, Nelson was renamed Nuri during her stay in Korea and was commissioned to share her gifts with the world. The name and her love for eyewear culminated into the eyewear brand NURILENS.
“NURILENS when you break it down, it literally means ‘to share my lens’ and that’s why I share my passions, my purpose, my triumphs, happy times, and sad times in different ways and I encourage my customers to really strive to step out as their best, authentic selves and be impactful in the things they do as well,” Nelson said.
When she returned to the US, Nelson realized how inexpensive eyeglass frames were, however, she didn’t find many brands that were environmentally friendly, sustainable, and that came in many different shapes and colors to fit the style of the wearer. NURILENS is her vision brought to life. The sustainable wood frames are kind to the environment and are quality, polarized, high index lenses.
“People are not only drawn to the designs but also drawn to the story behind the designs and the story behind the brand,” she said.
The glasses are also blue light blocking and provide UV protection, giving customers all of the high-quality features other eyeglass manufacturers upcharge for. Believing that eye health is just important as eyewear fashion, Nelson made sure to make health-positive features the standard for all of her designs.
“Our standard of quality is making sure we have all of the premium features in our frames, especially for our eyeglasses,” she said.
All NURILENS frames are named after a location and aim to inspire and remind customers of the memories they’ve made in places they’ve visited. Styles like Elwood City come in different colors giving a wooden, John Lennon-esque vibe while the Port of Spain Wood Ice provides an off-white cat-eye energy to accompany the perfect evening outfit.
With very little representation in the eyewear industry, Nelson believes it is important people of color have a voice in all fashion spaces to ensure the needs of Black consumers are met and acknowledged. She says it matters that people of color are included in the planning process and curation of products, and that they are considered when rolling out new designs and innovations.
“Casting either a design or including a service from the company or benefit in the frame, it becomes really important when you can consider a customer just like you and ensure you have features that would meet their needs,” she said.
Simple considerations like designing frames that fit the physical aesthetics of Black and brown faces should be discussed when creating eyewear for people of color. While many companies are not taking this into account, these factors are at the forefront of product creation at NURILENS.
Nelson encourages consumers to grab a pair of NURILENS frames if they want to have a more unique eyewear experience that adds a little something extra to the powerful auras they already possess.
“Sometimes the eyewear steps into the room before you do,” she said. “I feel that way about eyewear and I feel that way about hair. Your glasses make a statement without you having to say much.”