Known for using the phrase, “Challenge yourself…once you’ve reached a new place, challenge yourself all over again,” Tracy Vontélle Green has amassed a robust professional career which has developed her leadership skills, business, and financial acumen.
Today, Ms. Green is the CEO & Co-Founder of Vontélle, LLC – Vontélle Eyewear – a luxury bespoke eyewear company showcasing print designs and textiles from the African Diaspora (African, Caribbean, and Latinx cultures). The company offer sizes that complement diverse faces, fulfill prescriptions, and custom lens (color/tints), including blue light blocker lenses.
Born in New York, Tracy earned a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University and Master of Public Administration degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Tracy has been involved in funding procurements as a Budget Analyst for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget; wrote grants for the New York City Department of Health; managed bank mergers as a Consultant for Accenture; and oversaw the NYC public assistance budget of $6.1 billion (Medicaid, Food Stamps, Housing) as the Deputy Commissioner at Human Resources Administration. Tracy worked at Harlem and Bellevue Hospitals in key financial positions before becoming the Chief Financial Officer to the Department of Education School of Support Services and at Health + Hospitals Corporation at Metropolitan Hospital Center and at One Brooklyn Health System at Interfaith Hospital Center.
Additionally, Ms. Green is a licensed real estate agent in New York and she and her husband own rental properties. This steady income afforded her the opportunity to retire early due to some health challenges and start her own business. Ms. Green has always been committed to improving the quality of life for others and wants her life and career to further advocate for the next generation and all cultures worldwide.
In an interview with Insights Success, Tracy Green shares her journey and talks about what comes next for Vontélle.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
- Enlighten us on how you have impacted the eyewear niche through your expertise in the market.
Vontélle Eyewear has conducted a small sample research to create its current collection. From our research (including our own experiences) many cultures have had a challenging time finding eyewear that fit – Size Matters. Vontélle understands that eyewear is essential and realizes the importance of quality, thus using the most luxurious materials while creating bold looks for diverse faces. This includes a wider bridge for the nose, a longer temple (arm) for a comfortable fit on your ears and wider lens to fit over high cheek bones. The goal is to change how you see and be seen.
- Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
We have invested in a Virtual Try-On Program. This allows our customers to try on our eyewear using their phones, desktop, and/or laptop from the privacy of their homes/home offices/cars, etc. The technology is excellent. It’s exactly like you are wearing them in person. Eyewear is subjective and now, the customer can see themselves in the glasses.
- What, according to you, could be the next notable change in eyewear industry? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
Think about this: In 2020, the global eyewear market was valued at approximately $140 billion and estimated to grow to $200 billion by 2027. Yet there are less than a handful of Black eyewear makers. According to the Vision Council, 164 million American adults wear glasses and 218 million Americans wear non-prescription sunglasses.
This is the first-time multi-ethnic cultures are being included in sizing and design. We are about inclusion. For centuries, African Americans, Hispanics, East Indian, Japanese, biracial and multi-racial individuals were wearing ill-fitting glasses. I always had a line across my nose. Many of my colleagues had an indentation on their cheeks and pain behind their ears. While, we know some companies are now making “extra-large” frames, it is only 1 or 2 in a collection. We are making full collections dedicated to better fit and cultural pattern designs.
The next significant change is custom glasses for each customer. Currently, this is very expensive and only the rich can afford custom eyewear. However, as technology and machines get better and faster, making perfect fitting eyewear for each customer is the North Star.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
The concept for Vontélle was born out of a need of both founders, Tracy Vontélle Green and Nancey Harris, who each lost their expensive eyewear within the same year and decided to focus their efforts on making their next purchases from a Black-owned brand. After searching high and low for glasses that were stylish, better fitting, and had an ethnic flair, they realized it simply did not exist. That is when Tracy suggested we start our line, and Nancey booked our fate-determining trip to Paris where we met our manufacturer. Due to their loss, the company offers unique protection for consumers by providing a one-year/one-time replacement warranty from the date of purchase if your eyewear is lost, stolen, damaged, or broken.
Eyewear is not only an extension of your wardrobe but a necessary medical device. Vontélle understands that eyewear is essential and realizes the importance of quality, thus wanting to help with eye health disparities. The National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute reports that African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to have cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy than any other ethnic group. Most importantly due to these medical factors and high astigmatism, many people cannot wear contacts. Befittingly, the Co-Founders have partnered with WIN (Women in Need), the largest provider of family shelter and supportive housing in New York City. The eyewear company has partnered with local optometrists to offer free eye exams, vision companies and non-for-profit foundations to provide free eyeglasses and to pay for the prescription lenses.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for VONTÉLLE?
We aspire to change the landscape of the eyewear industry and change the world. Vontélle will sell out of our initial stock, create new designs, and re-produce top sellers. Successively, designing has started for our children’s collection coming soon – Spring 2022. Vontélle is the first Black women-owned and operated eyewear business to obtain a licensing agreement with Nickelodeon ViacomCBS to create glasses in beloved characters: SpongeBob, Baby Shark, Rugrats and more.
With the right partners and marketing, Vontélle [the company] is limitless. This includes growing the brand in 10 years to include clothing/apparel, other accessories, or a home collection. Vontélle is committed to celebratory cultural designs that represent global textiles, boldness, and beauty from the African, Caribbean, and Latinx diasporas. There is no doubt that the co-founders will transform the eyewear and fashion industry.