The spot on the southwest side of Chicago, Illinois, where Lunettes Family Eyecare and Optical Boutique now stands was once an ice cream shop. It’s also been a hair salon. But in October 2012, Karina Langle, OD, FAAO, and her husband, Edward, purchased the foreclosed and abandoned building. “We had the dream of opening my own practice there one day,” she says.
But the next steps had to wait. The couple had their second baby shortly after the purchase went through, which served to motivate Dr. Langle even more toward eventually opening her own practice. She had worked for others throughout her career, but she wanted a space where she could treat patients the way she wanted.
The work itself was an undertaking. The building was a shell of cement blocks and bricks. The large windows were boarded up, and it needed a new roof. The 1,625-square foot space was completely rehabbed, with a large front area and optical, pretesting room, visual field room, three exam lanes—one of which is equipped now—and space for her office, a break room and storage. “I designed it to evoke an old-time vintage feel, with tin ceilings, but a modern feel. “I wanted to keep everything fairly neutral,” she says. Even the name and the Lunettes logo are vintage-inspired designs.
During the time that they were waiting for the right timing, the right contractors and permits to clear, Dr. Langle’s husband started working on some of the furnishing. For example, he built the reception desk out of reclaimed wood.
In January of 2017, Lunettes formally opened. The location, across the street from a grammar school, is ideal for Dr. Langle to build her pediatric part of the practice. Since this part of town is also the family’s home, the couple knows teachers, police officers and firefighters. In fact, this part of town is home to a lot of firefighters, and she converted some old firefighting equipment into tables.
Word of mouth is helped along by social media. “Social media is bigger than I thought it would be, especially through Facebook and mom’s groups that connect. There’s also quite a lot of networking through the elementary schools, churches and health organizations that support 5K races, as well as the health fair at a local college.
Even though Dr. Langle had been dreaming about the details of this practice for years, she was still surprised by the number of unexpected questions and challenges that arose. “My advice would be to be prepared to have things take twice as long as you think they will—and cost twice as much.”
Now that the building and official opening are behind her, she’s looking forward to what’s to come. Her children, 7 and 4, will be able to come to the office after school. It’s the kind of schedule and balance that she had wanted. “I remember sitting in the back one day, early on, and thinking, ‘Ahh, I like this. It feels right. I should have done it sooner.’”