Stories of opticians: Carole Riehl, ethics in the crosshairs!
Reading time : 5 minutes
Carole Riehl is an experienced and passionate optician. Above all, she kept the strong conviction that one could conceive of optics differently. Today, it is difficult to miss Optic for Good , the label she created and which we have mentioned many times on the blog . This approach, which offers to support manufacturers and opticians in a quest for change, offers a new perspective. Above all, it highlights independent brands and opticians, often suffering from lesser notoriety. This year, she exhibited for the first time at Silmo Paris. A feedback that she tells us, accompanied by her global ethical vision of the sector.
1) Can you tell us about your background?
I am Carole RIEHL, graduated from the BTS in optics at Fresnel in 2001. I have worked in branded stores, independents, mutualists and I have even been a traveling optician. Between 2 experiences of the profession of optician, I had the opportunity to create a company in the middle of ethical fashion by creating a collection of layettes in organic cotton and from fair trade: it did not work but this entrepreneurial experience helped me a lot for the creation of my 2nd company, Optic for Good.
2) Optic for Good is the first eco-responsible label for opticians and eyewear manufacturers, how did this approach come about?
Optic for Good is the logical continuation of the work started on the Ecological Glasses Magazine blog in 2014. At the time, I wanted to highlight these brands of so-called ecological glasses: the support of the blog seemed to me ideal for talk about it to as many people as possible.
Gradually, I was criticized for my choices, so I laid down my convictions to transform them into a charter that takes up the notions of eco-responsibility, ethics, CSR, know-how but also that little extra that makes one brand stand out over another.
And to verify all these points, an audit was needed… and then all this work to appear in a blog seemed to me superficial and not militant enough, so the label was born. When the label came out with its first labeled brands, several opticians also wanted to be labeled Optic for Good: I had never thought of it… Given the insistence, I looked into the optician version and 2 years later, Optic for Good for optician was born.
3) Optic for Good is not only linked to the ecology of manufacturing processes but also concerns other points linked to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) such as ethics and benevolence, or even recycling. Can you tell us more?
My primary intention was to highlight the originality of brands to stand out and have the least impact on their environment.
It is true that before launching into the label, I inquired about what already existed because there was no point in creating a duplicate. And searching, comparing, these existing standards and certifications didn't go as far as I wanted.
So, I drew inspiration from their evaluations for my audit base and I pushed the questions further to verify as much as possible the work with the service providers, the reasons for their choice, waste management, traceability, origin of the materials and especially the composition of the materials.
4) Today, 10 brands and 23 opticians are certified. How to further expand the community around the label?
There is a climate emergency that gives urgency to expanding this eco-responsible community to offer an informed and responsible choice to consumers.
But developing the community is a balance between the desire to be part of a unique unifying movement with its risks (and its successes), the time to devote to this investment and the development of ecological solutions. And like any disruptive decision, it takes time…
5) This year, you exhibited for the first time at Silmo Paris. What did you learn from this experience? What feedback from opticians?
It was an amazing experience. Already, being on the other side of the mirror made me aware of all the difficulties that an independent brand encounters to exhibit in a trade show: you really have to facilitate this process!
Then, meeting opticians allows you to put people on the label: even if I humanize the label as much as possible with the various existing technological supports, there is a need for real contact. Unfortunately, I couldn't meet everyone because many told me that they passed by without being able to speak to me because of my always full stand: it's a good sign that makes me want to start the next year…
In any case, the opticians were delighted with this stand shared with 3 other labeled brands, to discuss ecology, to find answers to their questions, to see if they were up to the challenge. A great conviviality and a good moment of exchange.
6) Ecology and new modes of consumption are at the heart of concerns, both personally and politically. In your opinion, can the emergence of eco-responsible brands encourage certain "historic" brands to turn away from so-called polluting production methods?
Historical brands are already beginning to raise awareness of more virtuous production, in particular thanks to the development of CSR. An awareness that I have seen evolve since 2014 and especially over the past 2 years.
But this only concerns capsule collections and not complete collections: it's a shame, because they have the necessary budget to revolutionize the sector. In the meantime, independent brands are making things happen by integrating these ecological commitments into their initial DNA and they must be supported, as the Optic for Good label does.
For me, the emergence of eco-responsibility will be encouraged by opticians: they have this power to make things happen by daring to choose truly eco-responsible brands to the detriment of historical brands which are still hesitant to take the plunge 100% in ecology.
Many thanks to Carole Riehl for answering our questions!