Vontélle // Brand introduction

Vontélle was founded by Tracy Vontélle Green and Nancey Harris, both women of color and very highly accomplished, to satisfy the demand for better-fitting vibrant, fashion-forward eyewear. Each of their products and accessories is designed and handcrafted to pay homage to their African ancestry with traditional colors and patterns that channel their African, Caribbean, and Latin heritage. Their patterns use many textiles and designs from highly identifiable, recognizable, and respected materials like mud cloth and kente cloth. These designs are tailored to empower humanity to see the world through a cultural and global lens.

Vontélle eyewear
Vontélle eyewear
Vontélle eyewear
Vontélle eyewear
Vontélle eyewear
Vontélle eyewear
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Vontélle eyewear

The brand offers optical frames and sunglasses in sizes that complement diverse faces. Their research concluded that many of us are wearing ill-fitting glasses. Vontélle wider bridges for your nose, longer temples for behind the ears, and larger lenses for high cheekbones will fit comfortably on your face.

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Vontélle translated from French means “there she goes,” or “to go.” Our head-turning eyewear designs work to ensure this level of command in every room. “You GO” style. Our products are meant to empower you to walk confidently in this world: at work, at play, for every occasion. Our commitment to celebratory ethnic eyewear fashion was born out of a need to create designs that are better fitting, durable, bold and beautiful as eyewear is a medical necessity and worn daily.

Additionally, Vontélle works to address vision health disparities in deserving communities. Each year, we commit a portion of proceeds to further vision support services for children and families in need.

  • After graduating from college, I began working for an optometrist as a public relations coordinator. A few months in, I mentioned to the doctor that the glare from the car headlights bothered me, and it was difficult to see at night. I had an eye exam, discovered I was nearsighted and was prescribed my first pair of glasses. Since I worked for an optometrist, I was able to select any pair of designer frames with a nice discount. Now, I was rocking my Malcolm X–styled frames and felt like I could change the world with my new glasses and recently acquired education from a historically black college and university under my belt.

    I started buying glasses to match my outfits and hairstyles. I searched high and low for different styles, shapes, and colors so much so that I had a collection that didn’t even have prescriptions. If I saw a pair of glasses that tickled my fancy, I had to buy them. Then I’d wait for my insurance plan to kick in at my job and my husband’s job so I could fill two prescriptions annually. Still, my assortment was growing faster than I could fill the prescriptions. Glasses were sitting on my shelf, waiting to be worn in the hopeful future.

    Even after having high-paying jobs, the plight of purchasing glasses to match my outfits was daunting. I found myself paying over $600 for frames that didn’t include my prescription. One day while shopping in Park Slope, Brooklyn, I came across this trendy eyeglass shop. The glasses I liked were a pretty penny. I really liked these classy-looking glasses, but was hesitant due to the lofty price. Just as I was about to walk out, the shop owner suggested layaway. Immediately, I was like, “Bet!” I felt better paying a little at a time. Three months later, after making monthly installments, I went to go pick up my new glasses without the prescription.

    I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit—I don’t wait on opportunities—so when Tracy said, “I have a great idea,” my big eyes lit up. Her timing was perfect, and I agreed there was a cultural void in the eyewear industry. Upon agreeing to start our eyewear business, I suggested we do things a little differently. Since we’ve both experienced the heartbreak of losing and breaking our favorite glasses, I thought it would be great if we included an insurance replacement policy if your Vontélles are lost, stolen, broken or damaged.

    We are absolutely in love with all the eyewear Vontélle has to offer, and we’ve only just begun! Vontélle will surely make you feel bold, brave and beautiful and give you the wow effect all day as you rock these stylish optics.

  • I’ve been wearing glasses, frames, specs, eyewear since age 13. I remember how upset I was to have to wear them, but then Sally Jessy Raphael had a hot talk show and wore red frames, and I said okay if I’ve got to wear them, I want them to make a statement. I begged my mom to buy me a pair. So started my journey of wearing glasses, not only to see the chalkboard but to be fashionable. Over the decades and many styles, the cost of eyewear has significantly increased with designer brands, and I continued to purchase and began to add multiple pairs to my collection to match my clothes, mood and occasions.  With multiple colors, different sizes, and sunglasses with my prescription included in the lenses—oh, and I can’t forget different lens colors—I was Jiggy Wit It as Will Smith would say.

    The issue with glasses is they are not attached to you. You sit on them, you forget them in class or at a restaurant, your child breaks them, you fall asleep with them on and the arm breaks, you lose them at a party—blame it on the alcohol. When I lost my last pair of glasses, after I recalled my steps (over and over because I just loved that pair), I realized they must have fallen out of my bag when I was digging in my pocketbook and I didn’t hear them fall in the street.  I was very disappointed.  I started to search for a new pair and realized all my glasses looked the same—nothing with zing, pizazz or ethnic designs. I had evolved and was looking for more.

    Soon after, I had one of those complain about everything but I’m still grateful for my blessings calls with my best friend Nancey, and she too had just lost a pair of designer glasses. We bemoaned together, and I gave my assessment of what was missing in eyewear.  There was a lack of African-American and female representation, as well as ethnic flair. The entrepreneur that Nancey is jumped on my idea and said, “We can do this,” and Vontélle was born. My middle name is Vontélle, and I have always loved fashion. So much of who we are starts with self-expression. Most importantly, I wanted to offer a diverse brand of eyewear and accessories for everyone to enjoy and look beautiful in at the same time.  I’m in love with all the eyewear Vontélle is offering—a new brand of eyewear—as the first African American–owned and –operated eyewear company to offer ethnic and cultural patterns, I want to give you confidence and swag and proudly represent our culture in a new way.

About Vontélle

Vontélle, LLC was incorporated last year with a clear vision and ironic symbolism of “2020”. The company produces luxury bespoke eyewear that has unique African, Caribbean, and Latin print designs and textiles. The company launched its website in October 2020 targeting consumers ages 25-65. Tracy is a former Chief Financial Officer of a hospital and Nancey was a former sales executive at a well-known media giant.

Think about this: In 2019, the global eyewear market was valued at approximately $135 billion and estimated to grow to $259 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 (to block sun rays). Vontélle is poised to make their mark as there is a lot of consumers looking for eyewear.

Vontélle eyewear 2
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The concept for Vontélle was born out of a need of both founders, 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 own line and Nancey booked our fate-determining trip to Paris. 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.

Most importantly, Vontélle Eyewear handcrafted designs are for diverse faces. As their research concluded that many of us are wearing ill-fitting glasses. Vontélle wider bridges for your nose, longer temples for no pain behind the ears and larger lenses for high cheekbones will fit comfortably on your face. Although the pandemic continues to ravage our nation, many people especially minorities are forced to forge new paths and career journeys. It is no different for these two new fashion couture eyewear designers. Thus, they added mid-production matching masks in the same eye-catching and awe-inspiring patterns as the eyewear. They have coined the phrase/slogan #fullfacefashion.

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, and wants to help with eye health disparities. The National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute reports that African Americans are more likely to have cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy than any other ethnic group. 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 will provide proceeds and/or eyewear as well as partner with optometrists to make annual visits to the housing facilities to offer free eye exams

Read more about this brand on TEF Magazine or visit their website.


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Author: maarten weidemaAfter being a freelance eyewear designer since 1999, TEF founder Maarten Weidema now solely writes about his fellow designers in the optical industry. His passionate mission is to promote independent eyewear to the international optical arena, backed up by a large group of bloggers and journalists from all over the world. He has recently been awarded "International Optical Personality of the Year", "Leading Innovator in Optical Social Media Marketing", "Social Media Marketing Company of the Year" and received several awards for "best eyewear blog" for his efforts to promote independent eyewear to a community of 517.000 eyecare professionals.

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