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Love At First Sight

Owl Optical is More Than Meets the Eye

It was love at first sight for Julie and Chris Hansen.

The husband-wife duo behind the Linden Hills eyewear boutique Owl Optical actually met in a local eyeglass shop. Julie, who was a fashion student at the University of Minnesota, was working. Chris was a customer. “I like your boots,” she said to Chris, who bought black plastic-framed Lafonts. More than 20 years later, together they have two sons, a Siberian Husky and their dream business.

The couple’s business creation is a work of art — fitting for both Julie, a fashion expert, and Chris, who has a background in art and graphic design. When you walk into the full-service eyewear boutique, the Hansens’ artistic backgrounds show, with bright blue walls, decor with modern and vintage touches, and the best, most unique glasses you can find in the region. The couple scours the world to find designers that carry quality products, going as far as places like New York and Milan to soak up industry news and trends, and to find eyewear that will resonate with their customers.

Beyond the quality frames, what also sets Owl Optical apart is their customized service. Julie says she will intently study customers’ faces to learn their face shape, skin color, eye color, cheekbone structure and more — all to find the right eyewear for the individual.

“We call it an optical makeover,” Chris said, sitting next to Julie on a couch in the store’s back room for this interview.

“It’s also about fit,” Julie added. “I always say glasses are like jeans. If they fit, you are going to wear them to death, and you’re going to feel so comfortable and good in them. If they don’t fit, they’re going to stay in your closet.”

Think of it like a “Queer Eye” makeover, only with a small but mighty team of the Hansens and their two employees rather than the “fab five” of the popular Netflix show. But it’s the same level of high-quality, personalized styling that people have come to love and expect from Owl Optical — styling that meets not only the person’s individual style but also meets their budget needs. The store offers frames at all price points.

“We like to make sure that everyone gets our undivided, full attention,” Julie said. “We want to work with people to have them look incredible, but also to feel comfortable when they leave.”

The boutique opened its doors in 2012. The couple’s approach is working, as the business has thrived since it began. They still see customers who came in right when the store opened and have the same frames they bought seven years ago.

“It was a jump, and we said, this is it, this is going to work,” Chris said. “And within six months, I quit my job.”

The Hansens offer a little bit of everything at the shop. Whether it’s trendy frames ranging from chunky to thin in size or something in between, there is something for everyone’s sense of style.

“It’s become like jewelry for your face,” Julie said. “It really makes an outfit, it makes a person.”