Walking into Andover Eye Care is a lot like strolling into a neighborhood pub. Everyone knows your name and there’s always someone laughing. Most if the time, it’s Todd Berberian, the salt-and-peppered, well-dressed, and often unshaven owner of this modern eye glasses shop tucked into the corner an old building off Andover’s Main Street. If he’s not adjusting the frames to fit a customer’s particular features, he’s jostling between display cases answering questions about prescription lenses, frames for children, or Oakley goggles for snowboarding. On one occasion, he even performed an adjustment on a 101-year-old customer in her car outside the shop. Then there’s the time he was named “Hottest Bachelor” by a local publication. Bring that up with Berberian and you’ll likely get a shrug of the shoulders and a quick change of topics.
Always with a smile, and always with a story, Berberian is the consummate business owner. But more than that, he’s a designer. After years of selling other manufacturers’ eyewear, Berberian finally decided to break out on his own and design frames that not only perform well, but give the wearer a fashionable leg up, so to speak, from the nose up. Berberian’s new line of eyewear is called Todd Rogers and his marketing, a lot like his personality, has been anything but traditional. Advertising has been minimal. In fact, the first ad he ran didn’t even showcase the frames: it was merely a photo taken from behind a tattooed man (Berberian) and his dog. These days, the Todd Rogers line is the second most popular line in his store and he’s currently working on a line of sunglasses. I had the chance to sit down with Berberian to discuss his line of eyewear, what inspires him, and what motivates him.
How did this all come about?
I’ve been an optician for 19 years. I used to fiddle with glasses in the basement. I always thought that if companies modeled them differently it would make for better glasses, especially when it came to fashion. One day I approached a friend of mine and said “Let’s launch our own line.” He said no. Two weeks later I was in New York at an optical show and I gave him samples to design but I wasn’t happy with his production. So I started visiting manufacturers in Europe (Italy, France, New York) over a four year period – nothing was good enough. I must have sat down with 40 manufacturers. I was looking for something that meshed with me. Someone who had personality, dedication, ability, and someone who understood the business. After all that traveling, I had shapes galore. I whittled it down, sat on my back porch, and went though colors and shapes.
So how did you pick THE ONE?
It all came down to how quickly the manufacturers got back to me, how easily accessible they were, and how the samples came out. But basically, I was looking for a good product that’s made well, that fits well, that sells well, that has the classic design that everyone wants.
Who is the typical Todd Rogers customer?
I have teenage girls buy them, as well as 20-70-year-olds. Everyone can relate to it. I do a lot of charcoal drawings. I just turned 40 in August and feel like I’m finally growing into myself. I finally realized that I’m good at this. At first, I put no advertising into it, and no one in the store could tell anyone the frames were mine. The first week in the store – it just blew up. People wanted the Todd Rogers right away.
What’s the best part about being a designer?
Seeing an end product – opening the box and seeing the piece that I’ve taken from birth. Also walking down the street and seeing people wearing my line. One time, my friend called me from his cell phone on the street in New York City the second he saw someone with a pair of my frames on. It was great.
What keeps you motivated?
Years ago, frames started out being round and brown, plain frames. There weren’t a lot of eyewear designers out there who created designs on their own. I’m a brand within a brand – creating a look, a lifestyle brand that’s coming from the optician’s side. What is it that’s going to make this fit better, for prescription lenses? And look better? That’s what I ask myself. I’m trying to build a brand – something that gives you feeling and emotion. It’s amazing how the shape of a frame can completely change the way your face looks. -Jack Morris
Todd Rogers Eyewear
Number of styles: 15
Price: around $269
Number of sunglass designs: 5
Where can you buy them: Andover Eye Care or ask your local optician (also in New York City, Rhode Island, and Maine)
Most popular style: Makdadi