A Bounty of Wisdom From a Boutique Eye Care Entrepreneur; Exclusive Interview with Joanne Sze of Market Lane Optical for Winner Magazine | BNS News

With an unrelenting will to succeed and establish a business culture up to her standard, Joanne Sze has triumphed and inspired us with her growing chain of award-winning boutique eye care clinics.   Leaving no excuses to hinder her ambitions, Joanne - as a single-mother running two locations - has leveraged a keen eye for the right people to support her pursuits.  In the Q&A interview with BNS' Jasmine Kara, Joanne tells us what it has taken to build her business, Market Lane Optical, into a premium brand, further earning recognition and awards from Top Choice Award, Consumer Choice Award, Best Three Rated and the Canadian Business Review Board. Read the full interview, below, to get a glimpse of Joanne's motivating mindset, as well as to learn the steps she took to win the hearts of her Woodbridge, Ontario clients - one pair of chic glasses at a time!

...when it gets tough, there’s an answer for everything - you just need to set your mind for success.

 Joanne Sze, Founder at Market Lane Optical

Q & A With Joanne Sze, Founder at Market Lane Optical

What services does Market Lane Optical offer?

Market Lane Optical is a boutique eye care clinic that focuses on providing advanced eye care and unique handmade independent eyewear. We currently have two locations in the city of Vaughan, Ontario, with plans on franchising the brand in the future.  

Woodbridge Services: ·Comprehensive Eye Exams, Laser Eye Surgery Consultation/Assessment, Vocational Tests, Contact Lens Fittings, Scleral Lenses, Orthokeratology Lenses, Myopia Control, Eye Injury Management, Dry Eye Assessment/Management, Diagnose Eye Diseases  

Woodbridge Products: Sunglasses, Eyeglasses, Prescription Sunglasses, Prescription Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses, Eyewear accessories


Vaughan Services: Comprehensive Eye Exams, Laser Eye Surgery Consultation/Assessment, Vocational Tests, Contact Lens Fittings, Scleral Lenses, Orthokeratology Lenses, Myopia Control, Binocular Vision Assessment/Therapy, Eye Injury Management, Dry Eye Assessment/Management, Diagnose Eye Diseases, Visual Fields Testing, Retinal Photography   


Vaughan Products: Sunglasses, Eyeglasses, Prescription Sunglasses, Prescription Eyeglasses, Contact Lenses, Eyewear accessories  

How did you come up with the idea to start Market Lane Optical, and what purpose did you intend to serve with the concept?

Growing up, I always prioritized acquiring as much working experience as possible, and made it my life’s goal to climb the corporate ladder. Throughout my years in high school and university, I made it a priority to make the sacrifices necessary to get my feet wet with real world work. Even with school, I always maintained a full time job, working 40-50 hours a week.

I came to realize that the corporate world would probably not be for me. I recognized many flaws within the North American work system, and I wanted to see a change in corporate culture. This is when I realized that I could use my skills and experience to create a business where balance, purpose and fulfillment was at its core - for me and my employees. So in 2017, I decided to take the plunge to start Market Lane Optical. 

By being my most genuine self and treating my peers with love and respect, through my business I can create a chain reaction that gets amplified through everyone I come in contact with. Being in health care, clients and patients need this positive energy, and MLO makes it its mission to provide genuine trust and care for every patient that walks through its doors.  I truly believe success starts with a solid foundation. This foundation, in turn, generates respect, patience and positivity that translates into excellent customer service and the highest quality of patient care. 

Which milestones have marked meeting benchmarks towards the fulfillment of your personal goals/ the company's vision and goals?

Each team member is a milestone, and having the pleasure to work alongside like-minded individuals who represent Market Lane Optical's principles.  This has lead to my company’s success in winning multiple awards, including: Top Choice Award, Consumer Choice Award, Best Three Rated and recognition from the Canadian Business Review Board.   

Which steps have you taken for the company to achieve the level of consumer trust that has been nationally recognized? 

The most important step to achieve the level of trust that has been nationally recognized is to go above and beyond the client and patient’s expectations, whether it is through service or by providing them with exceptional products. With this simple objective, we can achieve great lengths.  

What part of your education or other experiences do you feel was the most helpful in preparing you for success? 

The truth is that we are never going to feel fully prepared, whether it be in our personal or work lives. There are challenges along the road to success, however, the important thing is to keep pushing forward.

I endured multiple events in my personal and work life that influenced me to push forward. I learned a tremendous amount and persevered with grit and determination.

My journey started in 2016 and I felt like I was on an episode of Netflix’s “The Tinder Swindler.” I learned there are several types of individuals in the world, including con artists, and advocates. I genuinely believe learning-as-you-go is part of every entrepreneur’s journey. You learn how to filter out those who will support you through thick and thin ,and those who will exploit you, by experiencing both negative and positive events. With these experiences, I have now forged my path ahead, being a single mother and operating two locations for my brand.  

Which strategies have you found the most effective in growing your audience/ bringing awareness of your service to a larger consumer group? 

Your strongest and most effective strategy to grow a business is referrals. Your fulfilled and satisfied client/patient will network for you; they will recommend the company to their friends and family, creating a larger network of new and existing clients/patients. Beyond the services, Market Lane Optical remains active on as many social media platforms as possible. It is important to stay connected with an online presence to build a personal touch and brand awareness. 

Follow Us:

·         Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok - @marketlaneoptical

·         www.myvisioncareprovider.com 

Which partnerships, if any, have been the most constructive in bringing your goals closer to becoming a reality?

Currently, Market Lane Optical does not have any partnerships, however, throughout my journey, I quickly realized that I wanted to align myself with like-minded individuals with the same values and goals. I find myself turning to this quote, often: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success” – Henry Ford.

In 2017, Dr. Alan Ng had filled in for my optometrist at the time, who was on matt leave.  I immediately recognized that Dr. Ng would be a great asset for my company; his genuineness, spirit and integrity truly resonate with my company’s core values and philosophy. In 2018, Dr. Alan Ng was no longer a temporary substitute and had decided to remain Market Lane Optical's lead optometrist; this marked my fulfillment of providing exceptional eye care for my patients and clients.

With Dr. Alan Ng as the lead optometrist of Market Lane Optical, it strengthens my company, bringing MLO Eye Care to a reality. Although there are many competitors in the industry, my vision for Market Lane Optical and MLO Eye Care has always focused on providing both, Optical and Optometry services in unison.  

Are there any challenges that made it difficult to continue operation and that you managed to overcome? What was your approach to get past these?

The most difficult challenges within the last few years have definitely been enduring the financial hardships of COVID-19, and also the situation with the Ontario Optometrist Job action. With the significant impacts in revenue, consumer flow, and hindrances to day-to-day operations, it was imperative for us that we approached each challenge with the right positive mindset. Even with these situations, we felt - and knew - that there was a solution; we just had to find it. 

Besides these two events, in general, the biggest challenge for us to overcome was to find the right talent to fit the MLO’s vision. It is important to find individuals who can grow with the company, and most importantly, represent the company's values and philosophy. As a premium level boutique brand, we have to ensure we find the right fit to pass on the level of care and excellence that our patients deserve.   

How do you balance work, passions/hobbies, and relationships?

It is important to surround yourself with friends, family and life partners who understand the circumstances of an entrepreneur. I truly believe balancing work, passions/hobbies and relationships is an ongoing struggle for most entrepreneurs, including myself. In order for one aspect in your life to succeed, generally other aspects of your life are either put on hold or not as prioritized. Work has become my passion and priority.  To achieve and to be recognized by multiple awards would not be possible if I did not have the love and support of my mother and father. They created a support system for my personal life to have the luxury of focusing on the growth of the business and to push my brand to its highest potential.  


What are your future plans to build on your personal/ company achievements and fulfill your vision for success/ what developments can your audience or clientele look forward to expecting next?

I am currently working on franchising opportunities and starting my own eyewear brand. My mission is to further expand my vision for advanced eye care and unique eyewear within or outside the Canadian Market. 


What advice would you like to give readers that hope to achieve success in your field?

If you want to manifest your dream or your goals, you can achieve it with the right mindset. Push yourself and believe - truly believe - that there are no limits, because that’s the truth, there are zero limits, and the only ones that exist are in your mind. Also, remember: when it gets tough, there’s an answer for everything - you just need to set your mind for success.      

Is there anything else you would like to share with Winner Magazine readers?

Believe in yourself, even if others try to drag you down and exploit you. Hustle in silence and let your success make the noise.  


We thank Joanne for sharing these insights and experiences with Winner Magazine's readers.  If you are looking for Eye Care and Products in the Vaughan Area, we would recommend reaching out to Joanne at Market Lane Optical!

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