BUSINESS: The Independent Eye: Optical on Main Street Indie OD’s Clever Face Mask Solution Sparks New Designer Fashion By Gwendolyn Plummer Tuesday, June 23, 2020 10:00 AM L’Amy America rep Gwen King shows Laura Miller, OD, the masks designer Nicole Miller made especially for her. Image courtesy of L’Amy America. NORWALK, Conn.—As independents across the country head back to work under new rules and regulations, masks are becoming a familiar, and somewhat comforting, sight. Although it felt a little unusual and perhaps post-apocalyptic to see everyone wearing masks at first, it has now become clear that wearing a face covering is a necessary act of kindness toward others—a way to let the people you interact with know that you care about keeping them safe and healthy. Still, masks can be a hindrance for some, especially those with hearing issues. Many people who are deaf or hard of hearing rely on lip reading to supplement or fully replace their hearing, so a total face covering can make communication almost impossible for some people. In May, the team at Northwest Hills Eye Care, a practice located in Austin, Texas, came up with a solution to this issue: they adapted their masks with a clear panel over the mouth, which would allow patients who are deaf and hard of hearing to continue to read lips while everyone keeps safe and follows health guidelines. Nicole Miller also made masks for the whole team at Northwest Hills Eye Care in Austin. Image courtesy of L’Amy America. The clever idea made waves on Instagram—including with the team at L’Amy America, who, in turn, reached out to designer Nicole Miller with the idea of making a custom mask for Laura Miller, OD, who was featured in the Instagram post.Cheryl Canning, vice president of marketing and brand development lifestyle said, “We were awed when we came across Northwest Hills Eyecare’s Instagram site and Dr. Miller wearing her special mask. We thought it would be something really amazing to have Nicole Miller, who is always such a terrific partner, create something special using Nicole’s special prints.”According to L’Amy, Nicole Miller, who was already making masks out of her own fabric, loved the idea, and was more than happy to get to work. Nicole Miller said, “I’ve been creating masks using my prints and was happy when the L’Amy team approached me with this project. I used my signature banana print to create a unique mask for Dr. Miller to use when working with her deaf and hard of hearing patients. We applaud Dr. Miller’s creativity and hope the masks help her with her patients.”Northwest Hills Eye Care’s original Instagram post sparked the idea. Image via Northwest Hills Eye Care on Instagram. Once the masks were made, L’Amy America sales rep Gwen King headed over to Northwest Hills Eye Care to surprise Dr. Miller and her team with a mask for Dr. Miller, and 20 more for the rest of the practice staff. Dr. Miller said, “I can’t believe that Nicole Miller made this special mask for me! I was so shocked and surprised and I just love it! My passion is working with patients who have impairments and having this special mask made by Nicole Miller herself is unbelievable. I made a special thank you video message to Nicole that I posted on my Facebook page. My team is equally thrilled with the Nicole Miller masks L’Amy provided to everyone!”In addition to allowing Dr. Miller, her team and her patients to keep safe while communicating effectively, the story of her creative masks truly showcases the power of social media and sharing ideas, especially for indie practices. As things around us change every day, we can look to each other for support, guidance, and, quite often, clever, helpful ideas.