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OVVO Optics

The Framework of an American Dream

OVVO Optics’ Founder and Mahwah resident, Artur Pilat, first visited America from Poland at the age of 18. It was 1992, and he was part of a crew sailing a 140-foot Staysail Schooner along the original route of Christopher Columbus’ voyage – in commemoration of its 500th anniversary.

Poland was in the early stages of Democracy and participated in events like the worldwide regatta to promote unity and improve public relations. Along with their seafaring skills, crew members each possessed a performance talent as well. “Part of the agreement was that the crew put on traditional maritime folk shows at each port of call to help generate funds for the next part of the trip,” says Artur.

Upon their arrival in New York City, he and his crew were invited to perform at a welcome event hosted by investment banking giant Goldman Sachs. Their hosts were interested in learning about life in Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. “They understood that we could provide an objective view of what life and business were like in Eastern Europe at that time,” says Artur. That event gave Artur the desire to return to America one day and work on Wall Street.

After the voyage, Artur returned to Poland and won a green card lottery, but he decided to stay and get his degree before coming to America. While still in Europe, he happened to meet a Goldman Sachs employee who suggested Artur apply to Howard University School of Business, a historically black school, because Goldman Sachs frequently recruited there. Artur was accepted into the program and offered a scholarship. Upon graduation, he accomplished his dream to work on Wall Street, receiving a job offer from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, where he worked for four years. His career then led him to Barclays Capital Investment Bank, where he continued to gain expertise in the financial industry.

During his tenure at Barclays, he began wearing glasses.

“My wife’s uncle owned a high-end frames manufacturing facility in Poland, and we would pick up new glasses on visits. My friends liked them and wanted to order them because they couldn’t get any frames domestically with that kind of flexibility and strength. That was the initial spark to make this a full-time business,” states Artur.

A friend suggested taking the first OVVO frames to the Vision Expo East Trade Show at the Javits Center to see if there was interest in the eyewear. “So, that’s exactly what we did,” says Artur. “We booked the last booth available—next to the restrooms. The location turned out to be perfect.”

Artur built an eye-catching display for the Expo, showing a 10-kilogram weight suspended by a pair of frames to demonstrate their extraordinary flexibility and strength. The booth gained impressive attention, and he and his wife Margareta sold 400 frames in 3 days. Artur resigned from his position at Barclays in 2011. “I knew this was going to be a new and interesting venture,” he says.

“We don’t consider ourselves a frame company; we are a technology company that specializes in glasses,” says Artur. Technology and innovation have always been at the core of the OVVO brand. Their military-grade surgical steel and titanium frames incorporate technology developed by Russian military scientists during the Regan-era “Star Wars” arms race. This proprietary metal alloy is strong, moldable, light, hyper-allergenic, and rust-proof. The Cold War ended before the material could be used, and Margareta’s uncle later purchased all the machines, which are still in use today.

Their Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) collection uses nanotechnology to bring the characteristics of diamonds to eyewear. Each DLC frame is coated in a carbon film that is thinner than paper, harder than diamond, and stronger than steel.

OVVO’s Wood & Carbon Fiber collection fuses exotic, sustainably sourced woods onto carbon fiber, resulting in some of the lightest, thinnest wood frames ever created. Their DUO styles combine surgical steel and titanium with fine Italian acetate.

The company’s patented screwless hinges have become a signature feature of the brand. “Because of the strength and flexibility of the material, we were able to create a unique hinge mechanism rather than a screw,” says Artur.

The brand also works to champion local businesses. “We only sell to brick-and-mortar optical boutique stores,” says Artur. “Eyeglasses are a medical device we often wear for 16 hours a day. They should be properly fitted and adjusted by a specialist. It is important to support local businesses—American, family-owned operations, like ours—so we only work with private practices, not big-box stores.”

OVVO’s operation is also environmentally friendly. “We use sustainably harvested wood in our frames and recently invested in a closed-circle paint chamber so that no fumes will be released into the atmosphere. Even the frames are fully recyclable,” he says.

Artur’s affinity for the place where OVVO first found its success runs deep, and he appreciates the opportunities he discovered in America. “This is still the country of opportunities where business owners are open to trying new things and dreams can be realized,” he says. “Our opticians are the perfect example. Ten years ago, we were new to the business and the country was in the midst of a recession. Yet, they still gave us a chance by placing a small opening order. In Europe, it is a lot more difficult. This is the place in the world to be. If you make it in the States, you can make it anywhere!”

OVVOOptics.com

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