In one of Pittsburgh’s most-recognizable local ad campaigns, fashion eyewear retailer Eyetique made its glasses the must-have accessory, enlisting a slew of news, sports and other local celebrities to wear its specs in striking posters. Rapper Wiz Khalifa and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are among Eyetique’s high-profile customers.
Now Eyetique is giving itself a new look, moving its headquarters from its original location in Squirrel Hill to a state-of-the-art facility on Banksville Road in Beechview.
“It will take us 48 seconds to cut a lens,” Eyetique founder Norman Childs says of the new facility and its robotic edging machine. “Being able to have this technology is a big part of why we are in this new location, to give us the space we need.”
There will be 24 employees at the new Beechview headquarters, which will house its corporate offices, its marketing and web design team, a full laboratory for making lenses, and a space for employee training.
Childs started the company in 1979, when he was just 21, after working at what he called big-box eyewear stores for several years. The first Eyetique shop, on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill, was financed with a $5,000 loan and Childs’ own credit cards. He was the company’s only employee for the first year.
Childs wanted not only to sell eyeglasses, but to establish and build relationships within the community, placing a strong focus on customer service. He brought in designer frames from high-profile companies like Chanel and Prada, that weren’t widely available in the Pittsburgh area at the time.
Since that first opening, Eyetique has expanded to 21 stores, which include its Norman Childs Eyewear, 3 Guys Optical Center and Chromos Eyewear divisions.
“Being located in Pittsburgh has allowed us to grow like this,” Childs says. “The city has been very supportive of us.”
And in 2013, Childs’ son Daniel started the company’s Chromos Eyewear division, which began with online sales of glasses priced under $100. Chromos’ has its flagship shop in Lawrenceville, and its products are available at Eyetique locations as well.
Chromos also is focused on the same idea of giving back to the community that helped Eyetique to flourish. Chromos Cares is the nonprofit arm of Chromos Eyewear, which donates eye exams and glasses to children who aren’t able to afford them as part of a partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools.
That giving-back mindset isn’t just limited to the Chromos division, but is a big part of Eyetique’s corporate culture as well, Childs says.
“We are very focused on customer service, but also on giving back to the community,” Childs says. “We encourage all our employees to volunteer, to give back whenever they can, because this community has been so good to us.”