By Tanajah Fryer
April 27, 2023
HARTFORD – The first Black-owned optical store in Connecticut is influencing the community with its Cartier glasses.
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.
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.