Who is that behind those Cartiers?

By Tana­jah Fryer
April 27, 2023

HARTFORD – The first Black-owned opti­cal store in Con­necti­cut is influ­enc­ing the com­mu­ni­ty with its Carti­er glasses.

Some of the store’s Carti­er glass­es. / Pho­to by Tana­jah Fryer

Nor­ma C. Brown is the own­er of Pro­Vi­sion CT and opened her busi­ness dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. After becom­ing the first African-Amer­i­can female licensed opti­cian in Fair­field Coun­ty, she went on to start the busi­ness. Pri­or to open­ing her store­front, Brown said, she had a mobile busi­ness where she would see her impor­tant clients and give them the lux­u­ry of choos­ing glass­es while at home or in the office.

Brown start­ed in the indus­try when she worked as a file clerk at Specs, an opti­cal store while going to school to pur­sue phle­boto­my – draw­ing blood for lab tests or oth­er reasons.

In 1999, I decid­ed that I want­ed to be a phle­botomist,” she said. “But in the inter­im, what I did was I took a posi­tion as a file clerk in an opti­cal store while I was going to school at St. Vincent’s Med­ical Col­lege. I start­ed to learn about the clients, I start­ed to learn about the glass­es, then I start­ed to learn about the lens­es. My boss said to me, ‘You’re very good at this, you need to stick with it.’”

So Brown did, return­ing to school at Mid­dle­sex Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege to earn a degree in Oph­thalmic Design & Dis­pens­ing to work as an optician.

Being in the indus­try for over 20 years, Brown already had a clien­tele when she opened her store­front. She is the only Carti­er deal­er in Hart­ford and one of only two autho­rized deal­ers in Con­necti­cut – the oth­er is her for­mer boss, who owns a store in West­port, Connecticut.

I am an autho­rized Carti­er deal­er, which makes me very dif­fer­ent from oth­er peo­ple that hap­pened to be sell­ing them in the area,” she not­ed. As an autho­rized deal­er, Brown works to give her cus­tomers a lux­u­ry expe­ri­ence and sells all sorts of col­ors, style  and shapes of Carti­er glasses.

Not only do I have the eye­glass­es, but I also give war­ranties, cas­es, bags, screw adjust­ments – every­thing that’s need­ed. I han­dle every­thing in its entire­ty, com­ing straight from the man­u­fac­tur­er,” Brown said.

One of Brown’s clients is the own­er of Dou­ble R Men’s Fash­ion, Roger Grif­fin. Grif­fin has been in the fash­ion indus­try for six years and works next door to Pro­vi­sion CT.

Nor­ma Brown with cus­tomer Antho­ny Grif­fin. / Pho­to by Tana­jah Fryer

He has noticed the influ­ence of Carti­er glass­es in the Hart­ford com­mu­ni­ty. The Hart­ford native, who said he has spent more than $20,000 on all sev­en pairs of the Carti­er glass­es he owns, said it seems every­one wears Carti­er glasses.

To me, Carti­er glass­es are a sta­tus sym­bol in Hart­ford. That’s what I’ve come to under­stand. So what’s attrac­tive about them are the qual­i­ty and the styles of the glass­es,” he said.

Accord­ing to Brown, Carti­er glass­es start aqt $595 and up and can reach thou­sands of dollars.

Troy Antho­ny, a Hart­ford fash­ion design­er and own­er of Anthony’s Fash­ion, says he has also noticed the influ­ence Carti­er glass­es have on fash­ion, specif­i­cal­ly in Hart­ford. “They rep­re­sent style, class and lux­u­ry so clients wear them for sta­tus,” he said. “It helps refine their style and gives a pro­fes­sion­al look.”

Antho­ny said he believes peo­ple are drawn to the glass­es for the bev­el, dia­mond edges and sig­na­ture gold frames. “They’re sleek and help take your style up a notch.” He owns a pair of bev­el-edged Carti­er glasses.

Brown is proud to offer the expe­ri­ence of pur­chas­ing Carti­er glass­es to the community.

Hart­ford has been wear­ing Carti­er for many, many, many years. They did not have a place to pur­chase them for many years. So I’m grate­ful to be able to open up this estab­lish­ment,” she said.

Beyond the expe­ri­ence, she said, is the high val­ue she puts on cus­tomer service.]

I think ser­vice and rela­tion­ships build word of mouth and are very impor­tant. I believe in excel­lence in every­thing that I do,” she said.