Why do most optometrist offices look the same? Dr. KerriAnn Combs Hodge most certainly didn’t feel boxed in by the traditional office design when she opened her own practice. She dreamed of a private practice that embodied a spirit of holistic health and community, and when she opened De’Cordova Eyewear in 2017 she did so with a completely unique vision. Her practice features her own independent frame line whose proceeds go towards funding local charity projects, as well as a spa, café, and a library.
Dr. Combs Hodge credits her unique vision for a modern optometry practice to her childhood. She grew up in Jamaica and was mesmerized by the hotels her family stayed in when they traveled – she always wanted to live and work in a place like those hotels, and her office draws on many of the amenities and luxuries of a hotel experience. As a child, she idolized her father, a police officer and her own personal “knight in shining armor.” Throughout her childhood, he was fighting a major battle: blindness. Her parents frequently flew back and forth to London for her dad to have surgery to try to save his vision. She felt helpless at the time and wanted more than anything to be able to do something to save her father’s sight.
As an 18-year-old she moved from Jamaica to the US and pursued a degree in nursing. It was during this time that she learned about optometry as a career, and in 2009 she graduated from UHCO with her optometric doctorate.
Her father continued to be a driving influence in her professional career. De’Cordova Eyewear is named for her father, who celebrated his 70th birthday the year she opened the practice. About her approach to optometry, she says she “wants to connect the puzzle pieces [for patients].” The eyes are part of the larger complete body. Her office is purpose driven with a goal to enlighten her patients about not just eyewear, but their ocular health and its’ relation to their overall systemic health and wellbeing.
In designing her office, Dr. Combs Hodge was focused on creating an entirely unique experience from the time the patient enters the door. Instead of a traditional waiting area, patients are immersed in a café lined with both eyewear and a library of books. She hosts educational events featuring local artisans, authors, and entrepreneurs at the café for pop-up talks. Community outreach is a driving force behind her practice’s success. She works with schools, churches, and the Chamber of Commerce to raise awareness about ocular health and what her practice offers. Social media has also been a huge component behind her early success in spreading the word about what makes her practice different.
In this podcast, she shares her social media strategy to building a strong community brand, and her vision behind creating the entirely unique space that is De’Cordova Eyewear.