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Community Highlights: Meet Kyla Skinner of Specs by Kyla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyla Skinner.

Hi Kyla, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I started out in the optical field at age 18, I volunteered to work for free to learn the trade – thankfully I got paid – and the optometrist I worked for invested so much time in teaching me. I became certified by the American Board of Opticians about 18 months later.

I immediately fell in love with the career, being an optician was such a fun mix of medical, technical lens info, customer service, and the fashion side of eyewear and frames.

I’m now 42 years old and I’ve never left opticianry. I’ve worked for many doctors and even helped an optometrist open a brand new practice in Asheville, North Carolina. That experience taught me a lot about what it takes to start a business. I learned about marketing, budgets, and establishing a company culture.

That was about 10 years ago, and the dream of opening my own optical shop started to grow. It took a long time for me to conquer my fear of risk, and debt and to feel solid in my capabilities.

In 2019, my biological mother died and I was given an unexpected gift of inheritance. It felt like a sign. Even though the grief of losing her was huge, the opportunity I was given to finally see my dream become a reality was something I couldn’t pass up.

I opened my own optical boutique in Atascadero, a small central coast town, on July 5, 2021 – which was also my birthday. It felt so meaningful and significant to honor my birth mom in this way, on that date.

The business has taken off far faster than I ever dreamed it would. Our town was on the brink of development and youthful new energy was alive and well, people seemed to be emerging from the COVID shutdown with ideas and motivation to change.

This small-town community was ready for funky eyewear styles, different than what they could find at their doctor’s offices.

I’ve loved building my own brand, my own business, my own schedule, and my work environment. Finding the perfect frames for someone’s face, the glasses become part of their identity and I have so much fun with them! I love connecting with my clients with one-on-one attention and building relationships in the community.

I just hired my first employee and look forward to the future with hope and excitement!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The biggest thing I had to overcome was myself. I sabotaged myself for many years, thinking I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, and the town wasn’t ready for it. I had so many reasons to fail.

I invested a lot in business coaching in the very beginning of reaching my goals, and that helped me dig deep and get to the root of my fears, then to push past them and grow into my strengths. Learning about the ego and how it can be our best strength and worst enemy, harnessing that, and controlling it.

Facing the grief of being adopted and losing my birth mom helped me grow too. Grief has a way of stripping you down to the core and forcing you to face what you truly want from life. The loss still hurts, but ultimately I’m grateful for the push to be authentic in my life.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Specs by Kyla?
I’ve created an open modern shop space full of light, a showcase for hand-selected eyewear and sunglasses handmade in Europe and the United States.

I’ve chosen to support only small independent eyewear brands and truly feel a personal connection to every line I carry. Eyewear becomes part of our identity and I love getting to know my clients, spending one-on-one time with them, and giving them my undivided attention to find perfect frames for both their personality and their face shape.

I take time in evaluating eyeglass prescriptions and select lens options to give you the clearest vision, using cutting-edge lens technology. When the glasses are complete, I schedule a fitting appointment to dispense the eyewear and take time to make sure the frames are fitting properly and comfortably,

Customer service is huge to me. I want each person that walks in my door to feel valued and cared for, like a guest in my home. I truly enjoy getting to know every person and I’ve loved finding a new community of friendships cultivated through my workspace.

I am proud of my business being successful after such a short time. I am proud of pushing passed very hard times and finding joy and hope in life again. I’m proud of the space we’ve created here at Specs and I love every moment I spend here.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
There are a few things that come to mind that make me happy.

Connecting with individuals in a real open way, sharing struggles and joys, and communicating to support each other through this difficult journey called life. So, I guess – soul connections, dropping judgments, and hearing someone’s heart.

Plants and nature make me happy. When I was struggling so much with my mental health through grief, I had to focus on each moment and find beauty in the day. Flowers, my garden, plants, and hiking – and the ocean – brought me calm and peace.

Also, my business makes me happy. Not monetarily, though that success is exciting, to see a goal and dream realized makes me want to dance around in joy! And I have, multiple times!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Carlee Tatum – Milk and Thistle Photography and Samantha Josette – SLO Branding Photography

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