City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
JF Rey

Featured Article

Frame Yourself In Style

Eyeglasses That Make a Real Statement

When Chris Hansen walked into an eyeglass shop in 1998, he had no idea he was taking the first step into his future. Julie, the part-time sales woman and college student who worked there and who was happy to assist him, would become his wife the following year. And then, in 2012, the two would open their own place, Owl Optical, in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the eyeglass shop is known for its modern, vintage and trendy eyewear. Wearing glasses takes on a whole different connotation when you walk inside and see the endless choices of stylish frames.  

“Eyewear in general has become so much more about fashion,” says Julie, who majored in fashion at the University of Minnesota. “I'll be looking through People magazine or on Instagram and quite often see frames that we sell. Our lines are worn by a lot of celebrities, but they don’t have logos on them - it's more about the construction, the design and the details, which people are starting to appreciate more and more these days.

“We carry a line called AHLEM from a French designer based out of Los Angeles. Sandra Oh and Tom Holland have been seen sporting these on the red carpet.”

Adds Chris, “We also carry Oprah's favorite, Götti, that she wears all the time.” Götti is a brand out of Switzerland, designed by Sven Götti.

Owl carries legacy brands, as well, like the “Audrey,” for Audrey Hepburn, which was designed by Oliver Goldsmith. “He even did a pair of aviators for Princess Di back in 1980,” says Julie. “His great-granddaughter now runs the company and reissues all of his original sunglasses, which even have the dates stamped on them. There’s also MOSCOT, which is out of New York and has been around since 1915. It’s still family owned.”

One big change over the last 10 years is that everything is now computerized.  Customers can fill out all necessary forms online before they come in, so they can go right into the eye exam room without having to spend time doing it in the waiting room.

“We ourselves, though, do it the old school way,” says Chris. “We write everything on paper because people think it's more charming.”

Charm is something that this shop has in spades. There’s no counter blocking the area between the staff and customers and there’s nice comfortable furniture to make it feel homey. There’s even a children’s play area to keep kiddos occupied.

In addition to offering amazing optical choices, the couple believes in good old-fashion customer service. “We take the time to talk with our customers, to get to know their wants and their needs and learn who they are as people,” she says. “Our store motto is to treat people the way you want to be treated.”

In addition to Chris and Julie, who are opticians, there’s their good friend and part-time optician, Mary Francis Freedman. “She's great at what she does,” says Julie. “She loves fashion and vintage fashion too.”

And from the very beginning, they’ve always had an optometrist available. Dr. Chad Legois is there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “We always wanted to be a full service shop and offer eye exams, contacts, glasses - everything that our customers need,” she says.

For many people, glasses are a critical need in their everyday lives. Especially with so much time being spent in front of computer screens, blue light filtration and digital technology in lenses is more important than ever. They provide better clarity and less drain on the eyes.

Chris, with his graphic designer background (he handles everything on their website and designs their business cards) and Julie, with her fashion knowledge, make a great team, in and out of the store.

When not working, they love spending time with their two kids. Since they rotate days that they work in the shop (except for Saturdays), one parent is always able to be home, which was especially convenient when the children were young. They also love going hiking. “Last summer we went to Sequoia National Park, and on our 20th wedding anniversary, we hiked Acadia in Maine,” says Julie.

The couple live just 10 minutes away from their business, so many of their customers are also their neighbors. “There’s definitely a neighborhood feel here in Linden Hills,” says Julie. “We are lucky to have the customers that we have.”

Owl Optical is also pet friendly. “We love it when people bring in their dogs,” she says. “I've had people leave their dogs outside, and I'm like, ‘Bring your dog in!’”

To find out more about Chris and Julie and what Owl Optical has to offer, go to 4318 Upton Ave S., Minneapolis. (612) 367-4106.

  • Ahlem
  • Julie and Chris Hansen
  • Julie and Chris Hansen
  • JF Rey
  • Moscot
  • Tom Holland's glasses in Rose