HerKentucky Business: Stratton Eyes

Here at HerKentucky, we love sharing wisdom from women business owners from around the Commonwealth. Today, we hear from Dr. Dawn Stratton of Stratton Eyes in Lexington

Why build your practice in Kentucky? 
I came to Lexington in 1994 following graduation from Optometry school in Chicago so that my husband could finish a master’s degree. We fell in love with the area and decided to stay. Lexington often weathers recessions and downturns much better than most cities because of an abundance of colleges and universities in the area as well as a thriving healthcare industry and a diverse economy. These factors help small businesses thrive in the Bluegrass. In 2006, Forbes ranked Lexington, KY 21st among the Best Places for Business and Careers

You've been in business for a while now any words of wisdom or lessons learned along the way that you could pass along?
As quoted by John Wooden “Nothing will work unless you do”. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you push yourself. Sometimes success depends on your willingness to devote more personal energy and work longer hours. However, when challenges slow your progress, it’s sometimes hard to remember that something good might come from all your hard work. Self-doubt can leave you wondering if your goals are worth the mental fatigue that you’re enduring along the way. I have found over the last 20 years of small business ownership that almost always, a worthwhile goal requires tremendous effort and commitment. If your goal means that much to you, and if you’re willing to do the tough stuff and not give up, you have an excellent chance of achieving it.

What should people look for when picking out an eye doctor? Should there be different considerations for children versus adults?
A major factor you should consider when choosing an eye doctor is the recommendation of that doctor by friends, family members and coworkers. Word-of-mouth referrals often are the best way to find a friendly, competent and caring eye doctor and avoid unpleasant surprises when you go to have your eyes examined. The little details can make an eye exam a very positive experience for your child. An office with a great play area and scheduled appointments with no wait time, along with a doctor who leaves the clinic coat in the closet provide a friendly relaxed environment for your child to sit back and enjoy their eye examination!

What are the general guidelines for how often people should visit the eye doctor? Does the age of the patient determine how often they should go?
Children should receive their first comprehensive eye examination before the age of 3, unless a specific condition or history of family childhood vision problems warrants an earlier examination. Children ages 3 to 19 should see the eye doctor every year or two, unless more visits are recommended due to specific medical conditions. Adults from the ages of 20 to late 30’s should have an eye exam every two years. Yearly exams become important in the late thirties when changes in vision and focus along with eye diseases are more likely to develop.

I know a lot of people who avoid going to the eye doctor because they don't want to get their eyes dilated, but the past several times I've been, I haven't had to do that. What other options are there?
While eye exams generally include a look at the front of the eye to evaluate health and prescription changes, a thorough screening of the retina is critical to verify that your eye is healthy. This can lead to early detection of common diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetes, macular degeneration, and even cancer. In the past, dilating the eye was the only way to get a full view of the retina. Thanks to new technology, the Optos Retinal Imaging System is able to provide a digital picture of the back of the eye without the use of dilation drops. The exam is quick, painless, and provides an image that can be saved for comparison at future exams.

Are there any trends in eyewear that you're seeing coming down the line? Will we all still want to wear hipster glasses?
Eyewear has become a must-have accessory for both men and women that provide an exciting way to change your style without having to buy an entire new wardrobe. The newest trends include streamlined cat-eye styles; dramatic patterns and colorful temples with a rounded frame; as well as shapes and retro-keyhole cut bridges. Hipster frames are on the way out, to be replaced by Statement frames in shapes that bridge the gap between rectangular and square; these frames can perfectly frame the face.

Here at HerKentucky, we love to support Kentucky's women owned businesses. What advice do you have for women who wants to start their own business?
Find your passion. Set a goal and go for it. Just prepare to do a lot of hard hammering, chiseling and polishing but the end result can be so worth it.

Quick Fire Round: 
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee 
  • Bourbon or martinis? Wine red and dry 
  • One dream you still want to reach? Creating a one stop shop all under one roof for busy moms that includes an optometrist, dentist, chiropractor, gym, gynecologist and, best of all, child care to entertain your kids while you take care of all your appointments. 
  • Favorite Lexington restaurant? Azur 
  • Favorite way to spend a Friday night. Dinner, movie and the company of good friends!
Thanks Dr. Stratton for sharing a mix of business insight and practical advice! Make sure to check out our other HerKentucky Business posts here

How a Wedding Photographer Plans Her Own Wedding

I am so happy to share today's guest post with y'all. I've known Amy Wallen for as long as I can remember -- our families have been friends and neighbors for generations. It's kind of amazing that the cute toddler who played in the yard with my little brother is now a beautiful bride-to-be with a unique and creative eye for photography and a business of her own! Amy agreed to share with us a few of the pro tips she's learned along the way and that she is working into her own upcoming ceremony. You can see more of Amy's awesome work on her website and her Facebook page. -- HCW

I just love the fact that my life is engulfed in weddings! What can I say? I love love, and I love photographing it! I still can't believe that I've created this business doing something that I'm so passionate about.

My fiance and I are coming up on our own wedding day, June 22.  Being on the other side of weddings, mixed up in all of the hype of planning, has truly given me a better sense of what a couple goes through when planning a wedding.

As a photographer, I never got to see behind the scenes during the planning process.  I would come to a wedding and instantly get excited. The venue is beautifully decorated, the bridesmaids are tending to the bride, the vendors are getting place.  It all seemed so fun to me! But now that I am so close to my own big day, I've realized just how much hard work, effort and MONEY goes into planning this monumental day. 

One thing that I like so much about shooting weddings, is the fact that each and every wedding is different from the last.  A ceremony on an airport runway, in a castle, at the church where her parents were married. Horseshoe favors, signature drinks, sparkler exits.  Everything about all of these little touches just gives me the warm fuzzies. I'm all about letting your personality shine through everything that you do. And when my clients show off a family heirloom, have a special father daughter dance, or incorporate a high school letterman jacket, I feel as if I'm right in the middle of their love story.

When I began planning my wedding day, I knew that I wanted it to be unique, and very true to Sam and me.  We are laid back, goofy, country and a little bit old school.  We love Sunday drives in his '83 Chevy truck, fishing at Jenny Wiley Lake, dancing in the kitchen, and laughing constantly. Our breezy outdoor field ceremony fits perfectly with our personality.  We both love being outside, and spending time with our friends and family. The woods were the perfect venue.
Amy and Sam
I love the idea of not being matchy. You can throw in SO many personal touches nowadays, there's no reason to try to blend in!  Mismatched bridesmaids dresses also pulled our big day together. Light peaches and pinks with breezy fabrics surely fit the bill.

Being a photographer really almost makes me overanalyze my decisions. “What if it rains like it did at x’s wedding? What if we run out of food? What if???” So many things run through my mind, just because I’ve seen so much of it before. At the end of the day, every single wedding I have shot has been beautiful, due in part to the bride and groom being head over heels in love. Isn’t that the most important part?

Sometimes I feel like we forget the reason for a wedding. It’s meant to share the love between two people amongst family and friends. I can’t wait to have my own wedding. Regardless of everything else, I’m marrying my soul mate.  That’s good enough for me.

{all images courtesy Amy Wallen.}

Journey Into Wellbeing

I am really excited today to share some insights from Debra K., who is preparing to debut the first episode of her show, "Journey Into Wellbeing" February 19th at 9pm EST on KET. She took her idea to reality and everyone in Kentucky is about to see it!

Debra K.
So who is Debra K? For 15 years, Debra K. kept companies she worked with healthy, using her expertise to create spectacular customer experiences. But the 60-hour weeks this former Fortune 250 executive invested in her career had an adverse effect on her own wellbeing: she became an overworked, pudgy insomniac on the brink of a health crisis. 

After leaving the corporate world, she launched a successful wellness education company and began consulting in the spa industry. Now Debra’s tackling her personal health challenges head-on, with a multimedia adventure that takes her across the United States in search of health secrets that can turn her, an average girl next door, into something a touch more spectacular. As host of The Journey into Wellbeing, Debra will stretch, juice, and Zumba her way to better health - and inspire the rest of us to cultivate more vibrant, energetic lives along the way.

HK: What was the motivation for this show? Why take the leap?

DK: There were a couple inspirations that have driven me and my team to keep moving forward with this show:
The first seed was planted when I was a single mom, working long hours in a corporate job. I ended up pretty sick and went to the doctor’s office. Instead of addressing lifestyle changes which might have benefited me, he simply whipped out his prescription pad and wanted to give me all kinds of medications. Things like sleeping pills, antacids, cholesterol medication and anti-depressants. I was a little shocked and actually a little angry. I thought to myself… ’How many people are there in similar situations as me that are leaving the doctor’s office with an arsenal of medications to mask the symptoms of lifestyle imbalance, without exploring what else they might do to get healthier?’ I politely said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ and left without any of the prescriptions. What I did leave with, however, was a burning desire to educate myself and also to provide education to others so they can make more informed decisions about their wellbeing. It would be several years before I was actually able to start heading in the right direction.

Another inspiration for me has been Oprah Winfrey. When she announced she was leaving her show in late 2010, she put out a query for the next reality TV star to be on her new OWN network. Just for fun, I started dreaming about what type of show I would do if given the chance and, of course, I wanted to work with Oprah. I thought... ‘How cool would it be if I traveled around and visited fun and healthy places, interviewed experts and shared this information with the world?’ Once that seed was planted I really started to get excited about the idea. For me, it was about taking the next step and to just keep moving forward. After playing with the idea for a while, I started to ask others what they thought. I had been working closely with some Destination Spas and I ran the idea past their teams. They thought it was a great idea. I also met with friends, journalists and business peers. Not one single person tried to discourage me from following this idea.
Almost exactly 18 months after I started dreaming about this show, the OWN network invited me and Margaret to come to Los Angeles and pitch the idea to them. I spent 45 minutes with their programming director, and while I haven’t heard from them, it felt amazing just to be there sharing the idea with them.”

HK: Anytime we have Kentucky on TV, we always get excited. But to see a focus on health set in the Commonwealth is pretty uncommon, if not unheard of! Why start this journey here? 

DK: As The Journey into Wellbeing’s Host and Executive Producer, I plan to travel to all 50 states, but felt I had to start in Kentucky. After spending 20 years in and raising both my children in Kentucky, I hold a special place in my heart for all things in the Bluegrass. As I’ve explored what the state has to offer over the past few months, I am so proud of all the creative, wellness initiatives across the Commonwealth. I believe every state has hidden gems of well-being and Kentucky felt like a great place to start.

Often when Kentucky is represented in the media, the focus is on things not so flattering, such as the article that ran a few years ago announcing Lexington as one of the most sedentary cities in the nation. I knew that there were hidden gems of wellness within the state that were worthy of national attention. In fact the title for this episode is The Bluegrass State is much more than horses, hillbilly hoedowns and hot browns… it’s HEALTHY!

HK: What can we look forward to on the first episode? Sights, scenes, people?

DK: Part of the premise of the show is for viewers to feel as if they can access healthy options in their own state. As I travel and uncover the hidden gems of health and wellness, I want it to feel very accessible for residents. There were so many health-focused initiatives in the state we couldn’t fit in everything we discovered. Some of the exciting places and people we explored:
  • Bobby Benjamin, Executive Chef, La Coop Bistro, Louisville. Chef Benjamin will teach viewers how to redo traditional recipes in a healthier fashion. He tackled the Hot Brown, Corn Pudding and Blackberry Cobbler.
  • Lena D. Edwards, MD, FAARM, Balance Health & Wellness Center, Lexington. Dr. Edwards will provide me with an initial health assessment and offer tips to viewers on beginning their own health journey. Turns out that I have six food allergies - definitely worth watching for my reaction.
  • Frontier Nursing University in Hyden. We trekked off to Eastern Kentucky to explore the oldest and largest midwifery school in the nation. The students we met are so articulate about their love for midwifery. 
  • Molly Galbraith, Fitness Expert, J&M Strength & Conditioning, Lexington. Molly puts methrough her paces and assigns a fitness grade, while offering simple tips for beginning a fitness journey. Much of this footage was shot at the Holly Rood historic home in Winchester and at Natural Bridge State Park. 
  • Janey Newton, Founder, Foxhollow Farm, Crestwood. We spent a beautiful autumn day on the farm. Viewers will learn about bio-dynamic farming and the journey Foxhollow’s leaders have taken to create a completely self-sustaining, organic farm.” 

HK: Is there anything in particular that you've learned so far on your journey that you found surprising or eye-opening? 

Probably the greatest discovery I made during this first episode is I experienced first-hand how passionate people are about what they are doing.

As I talked with people, their faces would light up because they held so much belief in what they were doing. I just love that! If I can somehow create a platform for others to be able to share their intentions and passions, then I will be an extremely happy person. The Journey into Wellbeing will not only help people get started on their own health journey, but will inspire people all over the world to follow their dreams and do what makes them happy.”

HK: Is there anything else you would like to add?

DK: I believe that when you are on the right path and doing what you are supposed to be doing, helping hands will appear. This has been the case with the Journey. Considering when I started, I had zero connections in the television world, it is almost a miracle that the show is getting ready to launch and be shown initially in seven states. At every turn: a connection, a voice of encouragement, a helping hand has been there to ensure I stay focused and moving forward. It has been these outside influences of support that have helped me to believe that I can make a difference, even when that internal voice of doubt crept in. We are setting our intention to reach all 50 states and would love to do so with PBS. The educational component of the Journey will be a great fit for their mission. I am looking for like-minded companies who might be interested in partnering with us to bring the Journey to a national level. With PBS, you have to receive underwriting to fund the costs. I am seeking this type partnership with companies who are as interested in making a difference as they are in making a profit. The PBS affiliate that will air the pilot is Kentucky Educational Television. KET reaches viewers throughout Kentucky and in parts of seven surrounding states. As many as 4-million people view KET programming. We are thrilled to work with this respected station.

HK: Thanks so much for your insight Debra!

Watch the first episode of Journey Into Wellbeing on 2/19/13 at 9:00pm on KET. You can find more information on Facebook and Twitter

HerKentucky Business: Olive You Boutique

A friend told me about a new boutique in Richmond (for you non-Kentucky folk, about a 20 minute zip straight down I-75 from Lexington) and I asked if it was really worth the drive to go there, especially as I'm a plus size gal and can't usually find anything at boutiques. She assured me that it was, and seeing as I'd love to own a boutique one day (I mean, who wouldn't!?), I went to Olive You and chatted with owner Katie Brandenburg. She is just as lovely as her store is, which is saying a lot because the store is AMAZING. I left with a few pieces of jewelry and greeting cards - there's definitely something for everyone.

Katie Brandenburg
What made Richmond the perfect place to open Olive You?
I love Richmond and it makes it even more special that I am from Richmond. I love all the people here and Richmond has always needed a fun clothing boutique. I have always wanted to open a store in Richmond, since I was a child.

For so many women, owning a boutique sounds like a dream. How did you get to this point, and what made you take the leap?
It really has always been a dream and didn't think that this dream would ever come true. :) My parents have been a huge inspiration and have really made me go for my dreams. I am one lucky girl and truly blessed to have such a great family helping me all along the way.

How do you select what items go in your store?
I select the items by going to market picking unique, one of a kind items that I can picture a wide variety of people wearing. When opening the store I wanted women from all generations to be able to find something they love. When at market I select brands that a wide variety of age groups would love :)

What's the hardest part about being a business owner?
The hardest part is trying to manage your time and get everything done that is needed. There is so much to do for a business owner and juggling your time can be stressful!!

What's the best part about being a business owner?
Making my customers feel good about themselves and feel good in their skin. No matter your age or size everyone should have fun shopping and be able to find things that they love and make them happy. I love making this happen everyday!! :)

What advice would you give to Kentucky women wanting to start their own business?
Go for it!!! It is a lot of hard-work, but if you have a dream and a great plan you should make it happen.

Quickfire Round:
  • Bourbon, martinis, or beer? Beer 
  • One bucket list item. Go to Capri :) 
  • Favorite way to spend a Friday night. Hanging out with close friends and family having a great meal or just sitting on the couch. 
  • Celebrity/personality you'd most love to shop at your store? After Golden Globes this weekend I would say ... Jessica Alba... I also love Reese Witherspoon!! She is so cute and fun.
Check out Olive You at 118 Meridian Way, Suite 1 (in Heritage Place across from Meijer), follow them on Facebook, or check them out online!

Elizabeth Elfen Designs

Elizabeth Elfen Designs brings a little Kentucky charm to the Big Apple. Transylvania alumna Elizabeth Elfen Johnston's eponymous handbag line is as glamorous and charming as its namesake. Elizabeth currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her well-dressed foot and ankle surgeon husband, whom she's nicknamed Dr. Hotpants!

Elizabeth was kind enough to answer a few questions about her designs, her personal style, and her Old Kentucky Home. She's also offering a custom bag for one lucky HerKentucky reader!-- HCW

Tell us a little about yourself.
At Woodford Reserve
I was born in New Orleans, LA and moved around to Virginia Beach, VA and St. Louis, MO before landing in Paducah, KY for my first year of high school. There, I fell in love with Kentucky’s elegance and southern charm and continued on to Transylvania University where I started, with the best intentions, as a premed/biology major. Whilst at Transy, my love of creating art grew and I graduated with a B. A. in Studio Art. After graduation, I moved to Florence, Italy to study 
Footwear and Accessory Design at Polimoda and reveled
 in the glamorous Italian lifestyle. Upon graduation, I moved to NYC and
 worked with my favorite fashion houses HOLLYWOULD, Lorelei NYC 
and Amanda Pearl.

To build upon my love of handbags, I went to work at an exclusive
 contemporary handbag manufacturer and immersed myself in all things
 pertaining to handbags! After a yearlong stint in the factory, I set out 
to make my own feminine contemporary clutches that add a touch of
 approachable glamour to one’s everyday life and night!

How did your company come about?
During my time at the factory, I noticed a void within the contempory handbag world. Everything just seemed so masculine, functional and lacked glamour. Because of this, I formed my company, Elizabeth Elfen, in 2011 to add a more feminine and glamorous 
touch to today’s contemporary handbags. I am inspired by old Hollywood glamour 
and a love of practicality and I strive to make clutches that go from 
brunch with the girls to après dinner drinks later that evening,
 all with the quick adjustment of your strap.

Bourbon or Beer?
With an actual pair of Dorothy's Ruby Slippers!
Maker’s Mark Manhattan straight up and extra frosty!

Coffee or Tea?
Is champagne an acceptable answer? [ed. note: Always! -- HCW]

Favorite spots in Lexington?
Cheapside Bar and Grill, Keeneland, Gratz Park Inn and Ramsey’s

Favorite things to do in NY?
Turning non-Kentuckians on to the culinary masterpiece that is the Kentucky Hot Brown. Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain has a great one.

Favorite Fashion Advice?
Fit is everything for everyone. When my husband and I started dating, he was wearing things that weren’t right for him, i.e., unfitted jeans, cargo shorts, ill-fitting hooded sweatshirts…. I could go on and on. I knew that he was a keeper, so I put in the time to outfit him in things that fit him properly. We put him in some better fitting jeans and got him some shorts that showcased his rocking calves and now he receives compliment after compliment!

Elizabeth has graciously offered one HerKentucky reader a custom handbag! Working from her classic 10" by 5" and 1.25" shape, she'll collaborate with you to design the perfect bag for you. It'll even be named for you! Just enter the Rafflecopter drawing before midnight on Christmas Eve!

a Rafflecopter giveaway