Meet Ryan Ford. At A. Kinney Court in Venice Beach, California, Dr. Ford has been a dispensing optician, but on his weekends and off-days he works as a local photographer, film maker and professional wipe out artist. His journey into optometry started off in 2009 and gradually transformed into his passion and lifelong career. With his 1-year anniversary with GLCO just around the corner, we thought we’d pick his brain about some of his favorite things. Delve into some of the highlights from our conversation about his everyday hobbies, the day-to-day happenings at AKC and his favorite Mexican food on the west coast.
How did you get your start as an optician?
I literally fell into opticianry out of desperation. However I had always had a fascination with sunglasses as far as I can remember. Though I didn't draw the parallel till probably a few years ago. At age 20 I got a job at a skate shop part time and a friend of mine was working at a big optical chain store and asked if I wanted a job. I started at minimum wage part-time, and in no time I completely fell in love. I left the skate shop and was a full time optician 4 months later as soon as I could take my exams.
Where is the overlap between your love of skating, eyewear and photography?
My love for photography was more born from opticianry than anything else. The understanding of how a camera functions was already implanted by understanding how we manipulate light in Rx lenses--it's just being captured by film and not by the eye. To me, being a photographer is simply an extension or another branch of this fascination that already existed within me. I just bought an old Canon AE-1 Program, so I’ve been playing with that a lot to try to get better at shooting on film.
Skateboarding has been fused to my DNA. It’s part of who I am. Growing up in a time before Internet, all we had were these videos that came out maybe once a year. So making skate videos had always been an interest of mine, I just lacked the resources to make them as a kid. The stuff that I make now with the guys that I skate with is low-tech and we like it that way. I want my videos to convey how much fun we are having, and the absolute love of what we're doing, more than dazzle viewers with our amazing feats of athleticism.
What is the most fulfilling part about your job?
It’s that first moment when a customer tries on their new frames and a complete look of joy spreads across their face. They feel more beautiful, stylish, sexy or whatever it was that they were looking for. To design a custom frame and have someone love it to the extent where it’s now their signature look and just feel awesome wearing it–that’s the biggest compliment I could ever be given.
What is it about working for Garrett Leight that you enjoy the most?
My team first and foremost. This has been the first time in my career that I have encountered young opticians who share the same passion for eyewear that I have. We have openness for ideas and creativity unlike anything I've ever been a part of. The thing I love the most about the brand itself is how young and progressive it is. I truly see it as a representation of a new generation in this industry. It really has a soul. It doesn't give in to fads or trends. Its authenticity isn't to be compromised.
And lastly, where can you find the best taco in Los Angeles?
The answer to this always is biased based on who's giving it. Being from San Diego, we have the best Mexican food. Hands down. And I know that statement made many a blood pressure spike, but before my house gets egged let me explain. San Diego doesn’t do tacos, really. I feel like that's an LA thing. So when LA tacos are concerned, my vote is undoubtedly is for Tacos Leo on Venice and La Brea. I know my Venice constituency will fight me to the death about it but I don't care.
TACOS LEO POR VIDA!!!