OAA + IEM = LOVE #tourtheIEMfactory

I believe it was the day we started building an eyewear factory in Chicago that we started inviting everyone to come see it. Before hiring a single craftsman or producing a single frame, the first thing the Independent Eyewear Manufacturing (IEM) leadership, Marc Franchi, Jason Stanley, and Scott Shapiro, decided was that the entire process would be transparent. The IEM factory would be open to anyone with the 1) desire to see how a luxury acetate frame is made in the USA and 2) the ability to get to Chicago. As a diamond-level sponsor of the Opticians Association of America (OAA), Europa wanted to help opticians out with that second part.

Europa awarded 15 travel grants through the OAA to visit the IEM factory. This past Friday, the first OAA grant group arrived in Chicago for the very first official IEM tour. Take a peek:

The lucky group with self-proclaimed Best Tour Guide in America and IEM President, Marc Franchi.

Say hi to your craftsmen! Marc and Jason spent several years traveling the world learning to manufacture frames themselves from the greatest craftsmen around the globe. When IEM started hiring this March, there was no workforce of trained eyewear craftsmen in the US. Between then and now IEM has hired and trained 12 employees in the intricate art of hand-crafting acetate frames.

From A to B. Marc begins the story of how a frame goes from a piece of acetate to a finished pair of frames. For State Optical Co. frames being produced by IEM, this takes an average of 70 steps and 21 days.

Handwork. Even with all of the advances in manufacturing machinery, more than 50% of acetate frame production must be done by hand.

Quality control. Manufacturing close to home, in fact within Europa’s headquarters, allows for the tightest quality control standards and practices in the industry.

Precision. All components of State Optical Co. frames are held to a standard of no greater than a .25mm variance. That’s about as thick as a sheet of paper. Explains the focus you see our craftsmen maintain.

Finished product. After making the rounds of the factory, it’s finally time to see the finished product. Designed by Blake Kuwahara and produced by IEM, State Optical Co. eyewear is truly New American Luxury. IEM would like to thank all of these passionate opticians for taking the time to see how frames are made and supporting Amercian Manufacturing!