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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jon Gruen, OPTYX by gruen Founder and Owner

With over thirty years in the optical industry, Jon Gruen has made a name for himself by re-inventing the retail optical experience. With eight locations in some of the Northeast’s most desirable locations, including New York’s prestigious Lexington and Madison Avenues and two outposts in the uber chic Hamptons, the Bolivian born German has come a long way since he arrived in New York in 1964 with $98.00 in his pocket.

Before the arrival of his 21st birthday, Jon passed the Board and graduated at the top of his class after attending optical school at night and working at an optical store in Brooklyn during the day. Jon then borrowed money to open his first optical boutique and forge his brand, GRUEN OPTIKA. The boutique was the first boutique optical store in New York and catered to fashion savvy clients, as it specialized in imported proprietary frames from Germany, Italy, France, England, and Asia.

As Gruen became known throughout New York as the place to shop for unique products and extraordinary service, Jon continued to dominate the eyewear industry by creating Eyewear International, an optical manufacturing and distributing company that grew to over 1000 customers worldwide. The company expanded rapidly and in 2000 Jon sold his enterprise (7 locations) to HDS Partners, who changed the company name to GRUENEYES.

After a seven year stint in the real estate industry, Jon and his partner, Harvey Ross, bought GRUENEYES back from HSD Partners in 2007. Since purchasing the company, Jon has taken GRUENEYES to the next level. With a new concept store on Madison Avenue and 79th Street and the new official name- OPTYX by gruen, Jon has promising plans for the ever-expanding company.

The traditional optical retail approach is that most establishments emphasize the “medical” aspect of the practice, concentrating on “patients” as opposed to “clients”. OPTYX by gruen, however, is intent on changing the way people think about eyewear. Jon encourages customers to own several pairs and create a wardrobe of eyeglasses instead of wearing the same pair day after day. He works with clients to provide chic yet functional eyewear solutions and can customize any frame. Even with their fashion focus approach, OPTYX by gruen offers eye examinations, routine diagnostic eye care and contact lens fittings by personable and professional doctors of Optometry. OPTYX by gruen offers their clients second to none service, trendsetting designs and only the best Optometric professionals in the city.

In addition to offering their own leading design collections of exceptional frames at fair, Jon Gruen also travels to Milan, Paris and Tokyo to find the hottest looks and the most sought after designer labels.

With clients ranging from, the infamous eyeglass addict, Elton John to the likes of supermodel Kate Moss and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, OPTYX by gruen prides themselves on their high profile and elite clientele.

Jon continues to reinvent the eyewear business, with his innovative theory that eyeglasses can and should be one of the clients’ most important fashion accessories. We are pleased to present him as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan: When did you begin to wear glasses?
Jon Gruen: At 40

How do you think New York has changed the most since you arrived in 1964?
More crowded, cleaner, better and more cosmopolitan

If you could only own two pairs of glasses what kind/brand would they be and why?
No answer, style prevails

Do you think people look smarter when they wear glasses?

What is the most common mistake(s) people make when they choose frames?
Don’t listen to my advice

What new innovations are coming out in regards to glasses?
Thinner lenses, better optics

Do you sell more contacts or glasses?

How can we increase the profile of glasses during Fashion Week?
Use them as accessories on all models

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
I am a Virgo, it’s in my personality.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
Home and Central Park

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
OPTYX by gruen of course.

What is your favorite drink?
A great glass of wine

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
Hard to say, today I am hooked on Flex Mussels

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Manhattan Bridges, fascinating

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Blading in the park

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
Go to the Met

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
The whole scene

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
The Hamptons

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
That I was born to be a Daddy

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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