Thirty at Thirty – Stories to Celebrate Thirty Years of Vision Express – With Aminah Ali
As a fashion student and founder of a creative online platform, Aminah talks about what she enjoys about being an Optical Assistant and how she’s learnt so much from her weekend role.
Why did you choose Vision Express as your part time job?
Even though there’s a clinical side, I feel there’s a strong fashion aspect to Vision Express. I’ve always liked the look of it, the store layout and the range of brands on offer. That’s what stood out, especially being on Oxford Street too, that seemed exciting to me. I get to learn about different brands whilst studying a fashion degree so there’s a good link. I’ve also been wearing glasses since I was six years old, so I can relate to our products!
How does it feel to be part of a really big team?
It’s great. There’s so much diversity here, in peoples experience and their career backgrounds which is nice. Being part of a big store means you get to experience working in so many different areas which gives you the knowledge and confidence in dealing with any challenges. Even though it’s a big team, I feel like more than just a number. I have regular catch ups with my manager who checks my progress and how things are going. They also recognise and appreciate your work even if you only work at the weekends.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
I like to interact and meet new people and finding out more about our customers, like what style they’re into and what kind of frames they were hoping to find (especially from young customers). When you take the time to listen to someone, it makes a big difference to their overall experience. Although fashion is a big thing for me, it also feels like my work is meaningful, we’re helping people with eye health – I like the balance of clinical and retail.
Last year you were featured in the Adidas London campaign, tell us more!
Aside from studying fashion at university, I like to share my style and creative interests on social media. Adidas saw my content and reached out to me about their London campaign – they wanted to feature young people from the city and they allowed me to dress the way I wanted to which was cool. It was an amazing experience but weird to see my face on billboards and at the tube stations, people even started to recognise me!
How do you balance your studying, part time role and other creative activities?
Practically, I like to prioritise things, and make sure my work isn’t affected. I try to do things in advance when I can and make sure I dedicate enough time to each role.
My sister also works in the Oxford Street store, she started as an OA and is now an Optometrist. She has a strong work ethic that I try to follow!
What does fashion mean to you?
I think there’s more to fashion than just the way you dress, it can create a style and become part of your identity. It allows you to explore who you are as a person. You can get an understanding of a person from the way they dress. Glasses in particular have become very trendy over the years and they give people confidence. I personally feel really comfortable wearing my glasses, I don’t feel right when I’m not wearing them!
What motto do you live by?
Be true to yourself and be who you are. Never change yourself for other people or just because of the environment around you.