The Specs by Kyla owner traveled to the land of croissants and cafes for the SILMO eyewear trade show
ATASCADERO — Atascadero’s very own eyewear specialist, Kyla Skinner (Specs by Kyla), headed out on an international trip to Paris to attend the SILMO Paris eyewear trade show. Her excursion included visiting brands she carries in her own shop, people-watching on the streets of Paris, and even having some run-ins with Fashion Week, as she was there from Sept. 28 through Oct. 6.
“I’ve always wanted to go to this trade show in Paris, specifically,” Skinner said. “I’ve never traveled in my life either, so it was just fun to have this be a reason to go for my business and then also experience traveling and seeing different parts of the world.”
The SILMO Paris trade show is an international trade fair that features everything optics and eyewear, so it only makes sense that Skinner, who owns Specs by Kyla, would travel halfway across the world to dive into all the fabulous frames and ingenuity packed into two huge convention centers.
“There were two buildings full of tons of frames and lenses and everything that is related to my field. It was super fun,” added Skinner. “Most of my brands were there, so I was able to look at their new releases and just did a lot of walking around.”
While there, Skinner acquired a new frame line, Masunaga, from Japan while also creating a wish list of lines to add in the future. She also ordered new frames from the existing lines that she already carries.
“It’s really fun to be able to see things in person vs. just looking at websites and to be able to touch and feel and try things on and see the quality of the materials and meet the people behind it too. They are taking pride in their brand, and so it’s fun to see the personal connections behind the companies,” added Skinner.
While Skinner was trying on the newest eyewear in Paris, it was also Fashion Week, which created the perfect option for optimal people-watching.
“I didn’t feel out of place, oddly. I don’t know, I felt good,” Skinner said about being in Paris during some of its biggest fashion moments of the year.
On top of the days taken up by the trade show, Skinner, who was joined by Atascadero native Zoe Zappas, also explored the streets of Paris, mostly on foot.
“We ended up walking like 50 miles, and we saw the Eiffel Tower,” she said. “I was like, I should probably see that, but we saw it from a distance. We just walked and walked and walked, and it was so fun to see the style there. I could have probably just people-watched the whole time.”
The girls also made a little side trip over to Antwerp, Belgium, while Skinner was in Europe. It ended up being a last-minute addition that brought even more eyewear fun into the trip.
“One of my frame companies, Theo, is based there, and they invited us to come and did a whole two-day experience in their headquarters. They did a class for one full day of that, and we went to tour their shops there. they also have an archive in their basement, and it was like thousands of vintage frames from the ’80s and ’90s, from when they started,” continued Skinner. “I was able to look through all of those. That was a very inspiring experience to meet with them and to learn their story. They were very much about building a relationship and a connection with us and also building [relationships] with clients that purchase their frames. It was very much personal. They tell stories around their frames and have it become more of an experience.”
Skinner said she learned a lot and felt like Theo’s company culture resonated with her and the way she runs Specs. She added that seeing the fashion and traveling over to Paris and Antwerp definitely had a lasting effect on her eyewear selections and how she wants to run her shop in the future.
“I think travel opens our eyes to culture, to setting goals, and enthusiasm about what we do at home,” she said. “I came home feeling very enthusiastic and inspired in little ways that I want to implement.”
While Skinner was away, she said that she got a ton of support for her local clients.
“I just felt so grateful that my business has survived and thrived and to be able to go to this amazing place and to come home to Atascadero. It just felt good,” she concluded.
Feature Image: Kyla Skinner (left) and Zoe Zappas take a selfie in Paris, France at the SILMO eyewear trade show. Photo provided by Kyla Skinner.