Anwuli Eyewear By Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy: Empowering Dreamers To Develop A Clear Vision

Becoming an eyewear designer can be a rewarding and creative journey. Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy, optometrist and eyewear designer, shares the Anwuli Eyewear journey. Throughout the podcast, Dr. Nwamaka shares that it requires a combination of artistic talent, technical skills, and business acumen. Remember that becoming a successful eyewear designer may take time and dedication. Stay persistent, believe in your creative vision, and keep pushing yourself to create exceptional eyewear designs. With passion, hard work, and talent, you can turn your journey into a fulfilling and rewarding career in eyewear design.

Early Beginnings: The Road to Optometry


Dr. Darryl Glover:

Before we delve into your remarkable journey as an optometrist and eyewear designer, could you provide us with a little backstory, Dr. Nwamaka?

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

Absolutely. I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, as a first-generation Nigerian American. In our African household, like many others, it was almost assumed I’d pursue a career in medicine. My brother chose engineering, but I was excited to embark on the path to becoming a doctor.

One of my relatives suggested to my father that the Xavier University of Louisiana was a renowned institution attended by many black doctors. Intrigued, we visited, and I was captivated by the school and its vibrant culture. Consequently, I chose Xavier for my undergraduate studies, with a firm intention to proceed to medical school.

However, things took an unexpected turn when I faced the MCAT examination. It was a challenging period, and I began to consider other options. Optometry, which I initially thought of as a plan B, suddenly seemed like an attractive path.

Interestingly, my friend, Dr. Tiffany Humes, planted the idea of optometry in my mind. I remember this vividly; we were driving down St. Charles in New Orleans, and I was confiding in her about my uncertainty about the future. Tiffany suggested I consider optometry, quite literally. 

In the summer after my senior year, I juggled MCAT preparations and researched optometry schools. That’s when my unexpected but fulfilling journey into the world of optometry began.

Charting New Territory: The Genesis and Journey of Anwuli Eyewear


Dr. Darryl Glover:

So, after you became an optometrist, could you share with us the journey that led you to your current position? The different modes of practice you’ve explored and your work experiences?

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

Sure, I’d be glad to. Post optometry school, I pursued a residency at Omni Eye Services in Atlanta. Initially, I thought I might venture into academia, but I quickly realized that path was incompatible with my social preferences.

During my residency, I connected with a Walmart recruiter through the National Optometric Association (NOA), which proved to be a valuable link. I decided against pursuing an academic career and realized I didn’t want to be an employee. So, I started exploring opportunities with the recruiter to acquire a lease.

In 2013, I landed a lease with Sam’s Club, moving straight from my residency to running my practice. I operated that lease for some time before taking on a second one at Walmart, and at one point, I had three leases. However, I eventually scaled back to provide the level of patient care I envisioned and maintain a balanced lifestyle.

The Walmart setting offered me the space I loved, but the experience also illuminated a crucial problem in the eyewear market. I noticed a recurring theme where patients struggled to find glasses that fit their face. The problem extended beyond Walmart, as I discovered through my experiences filling in for doctors at various types of practices. Irrespective of the price range, I experienced firsthand the discomfort of ill-fitting glasses, feeling as though they were squashing my face.

This problem stirred something in me and planted the seed for Anwuli Eyewear. Recognizing that my patients and I experienced this issue, I saw an opportunity to change the narrative. Too many women were being forced to wear men’s glasses or uncomfortable sunglasses simply because nothing else fit.

This realization fueled the inception of Anwuli Eyewear, a solution to a widespread problem I had experienced myself. It was a profound moment when I saw a problem, felt the pain, and decided to take action. And just like that, Anwuli Eyewear was born.

Dr. Darryl Glover:

Your eyewear line is quite transformative, especially for individuals like me with a larger head who require longer temples. It’s an incredible fit. Could you share how you embarked on creating this product?

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

Of course. It all began with the inception of the idea. Once I decided to make it a reality, I started searching for ways to turn the concept into a tangible product. Around 2017-2018, I Googled ‘how to make glasses.’ My practice in a retail setting had limited my exposure to frame reps or similar contacts.

Google didn’t provide many answers on eyewear manufacturing, only directing me to somewhat dubious websites. Some sites suggested private label production, but that wasn’t what I was aiming for. I knew I wanted different sizes, which I wouldn’t find in existing catalogs.

So, I conducted my research. I started polling opticians about their challenges when fitting glasses for their black patients. The most common issues mentioned were the short temple length, glasses hitting the cheekbones, and small eye sizes. So, I conducted a more formal poll, and the results were strikingly uniform. The top three pain points were ill-fitting bridges, short temples, and small eye sizes.

With these insights, I continued my search for a manufacturing solution. As strange as it may sound, the pandemic catalyzed this business’s forward momentum.

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy, optometrist and founder of Anwuli Eyewear

Dr. Darryl Glover:

I’m intrigued to know what you consider to be your biggest hurdle.

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

The central realization was that I was not competing with more prominent brands. I can’t match their budgets or their MOQs. The challenge was wanting this brand to thrive despite these obstacles while spreading the word about my mission.

Dr. Darryl Glover:

Now I’d love to hear the story behind your eyewear brand, especially the significance of its name.

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

Anwuli is my middle name, which means joy. This name was given to me by my grandfather. To me, joy is internal; it’s a profound feeling that goes beyond fleeting happiness. It has to be incorporated into your lifestyle; it comes from the inside out. Joy is part of my ‘why’; I don’t want to do it if it doesn’t bring joy. I aim to make a statement without speaking, using items that fit well.

The first collection is the Royal Collection. My father is the traditional ruler, the Igwe, of our town in Nigeria. The frames in this collection are named after my family members. We have six models: Mom, Dad, my sister Uche, my other sister Chikanele, my brother Azuka, my niece Amara, the Ada frame named after my mother who is the first daughter in her family, the Igwe frame, and our bestseller, the Inupiaq frame.

Empowering Dreamers: The Mission of Anwuli Eyewear


Dr. Darryl Glover:

One thing I noticed about your brand is your mission to empower dreamers to develop a clear vision. Could you expound on that?

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

Absolutely. I have always valued mentorship and benefited greatly from it. Some of my biggest career breakthroughs occurred after coaching sessions that helped me understand my mindset. I love both being a mentor and having a mentor. When I started this eyewear line, I wanted to do more than just give away free glasses. I wanted to help people visualize not only what they can see but also what they can imagine. 

A big part of Anwuli Eyewear is helping to conduct mindset retreats for young adults. One of my cohort members, Femi, advised me not to wait until the company becomes profitable before I start incorporating it. As the revenue increases, we plan to do more for people. To date, we have held two mindset retreats: one with the Nigerian Youth Alliance Incorporated and the other at the Girls Link Up summer camp in Atlanta.

Dr. Darryl Glover:

Finally, what’s the best advice you’d give to your younger self?

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

To my younger self, I’d say: you are entirely worthy of the life you desire. It’s important to remember and believe in this.

Dr. Darryl Glover:

For my colleagues watching, who may want to feature your brand in their offices, how can they get in touch with you?

Dr. Nwamaka Ngoddy:

They can reach out to me through the contact information available on the Anwuli Eyewear website. Even if it’s a virtual or in-person showroom appointment, depending on the location, we would be thrilled to meet with them.

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