Spectacular spectacles, a love story
For Owl Optical owners Chris and Julie Hansen, lovely eyeglasses aren’t just pretty face-bobs or vision aids — they’re powerful mojo talismans. Julie and Chris met among the spectacles in Minneapolis, 1998, at a local eyeglasses shop. Julie was working there while studying at the University of Minnesota. Chris sauntered in and (smart guy!) waited around for the lovely woman behind the counter to help him.
Julie’s big first line? “I like your boots!” (they were super cool boots).
Julie still recalls Chris’ frames of choice: Classic, black plastic-framed Lafonts that remain a popular pick. The duo went out to discuss their love of eyewear over cocktails and have been together ever since. Married in 1999, the couple have two boys, who make occasional star appearances at the shop, and a rowdy duo of Siberian huskies. Their goal: Search the most exciting eyewear designs from around the world and bring the most special spectacles to Minneapolis.
Julie’s fashion industry background at Dayton’s/Marshall Fields’ buying office plus Chris’ graphic design background (and inherent love of all things stylin’) have collided to create a unique buying experience for spec aficionados. “Eyewear is art to us,” Julie said, “If it’s going on your face, it’s literally a part of your expression. We wanted to give people something amazing to say!” The stores are both unique, with lounges and play areas for kids.
“We want to welcome each customer, our store has become like a home to us.” Chris said, “Everyone who walks in is a guest. We want this to be a family shop that serves generations and keeps track of what people need, the way old-fashioned spectacle shops in Minneapolis used to be.” “For our Linden Hills location we a chose community-oriented and quirky neighborhood. Our store grows organically, from a lot of word of mouth, and we’re here to be a part of the community not just rent space.”
Full services and eye exams are available, and Chris and Julie promise speedy ordering and all the bells and whistles modern technology offers – glare-free, transitions, specialty lenses, and everything in between.
“We also have backgammon!” Julie added. Sounds like love.
Meet the Owl Crew
I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in the 3rd grade but my love of the optical industry started when I worked for the a local brand on their merchandising and design team. I’ve always loved fashion and design and one of my biggest hobbies is sewing – particularly vintage-inspired design, which I wear in my day-to-day life. My past experience as a hair stylist has helped with fitting frames to different face shapes and sizes, and understanding flattering colors. I’m a Pinterest junkie and I have boards dedicated to eyewear trends from all eras and countries. I have a small black cat named Harley, and she is my best bean. My hero growing up was Amelia Earhart. I am a self-proclaimed geek and I consume more Harry Potter, Disney, and Star Trek than what may be considered healthy. I also live for coffee.
Mary Francis Freedman
I moved to Minneapolis with my husband in 2001. We soon decided we’d found our favorite city and have been here ever since! I’ve been wearing glasses since middle school, and two of my three children also wear glasses. I love fashion paired with function, and my understanding comes from a full and busy family life – glasses have to work in a variety of situations and with a variety of clothing. I especially love helping parents find something for their kids. Working at Owl Optical has given me the opportunity to help people upgrade and understand the feeling that a special pair of glasses can bring. Nothing makes me happier than uniting the right frames with the right person – and providing the best quality lenses in the industry! If you don’t see me at Owl Optical, you’ll find me knitting, reading, or walking our beloved dog.