Vontélle Frames: Rethinking Eyewear for the BIPOC Community

Two college friends were unhappy with the fit and style of the glasses that are available. Together, they decided to change that.

Smiling Black woman wearing Official by Vontelle Douglass frames for America's Best

Tracy Green, co-founder and CEO of luxury eyewear brand Vontélle, started wearing glasses at age 13. She immediately didn’t like how they looked or felt. “I would get teased,” she says. “I always had chubby cheeks and my glasses would be so tight, they’d leave indentations on my cheeks and a line across my nose.” 

Like many Black Americans who may have diverse facial features, she grew to accept that glasses just didn’t fit her well. She made adjustments such as buying men’s glasses for their naturally larger frames. Then one day, Green lost her glasses. 

“I went to look for a new pair, and every one I tried on was tighter than ever on my face,” she says. After that frustrating experience, Green complained to her friend Nancey Harris, who shared that she had also lost a pair of glasses recently. She too was disappointed when she went to buy a new pair, mainly by the styles that were out there. “I really wanted more color and pattern,” Harris says. 

Green and Harris both had business backgrounds, so they decided they might be able to do it better. They flew to Paris in 2019 to attend the largest eyewear expo in the world. “We had an aha moment as we were there,” says Harris. The reason the glasses were so tight and ill-fitting was because there was no representation in the eyewear industry creating glasses to fit diverse features like ours,” Green says.  

And that’s how Vontélle began. (Vontélle is Green’s middle name.) The company, in its fourth year, makes glasses for men, women, and kids, and now features the exclusive Official by Vontélle collection at America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses. (Shown above are the Official by Vontélle Douglass frames.)

The eye care specialists at America’s Best can help you find lenses that are just right for you! Learn more here.  

What Makes Vontélle Frames Different 

If you wear glasses, you know they’re one of the first things someone sees when they look at you. “Glasses are the centerpiece of your face,” says Harris. As such, they allow you to express your personal style. For Green and Harris, culture was missing from frames, which is why Vontélle frames come in bright colors and patterns that represent a diaspora of African, Latin, Caribbean, Asian, and Native American cultures. 

They also set out to create frames that fit diverse faces and features, such as glasses that have wider bridges or longer temples (the arm of the frame that goes from the main body of the frame to behind your ear). Harris thinks about her mom, now 80 years old, who has permanent indentations and markings from frames that sat on her nose painfully for four decades. “It’s unfair to ask anyone to wear glasses that are ill-fitting for the rest of their life,” she says. 

Customers have told Green and Harris that they didn’t even know ill-fitting frames were a problem until they tried on glasses that fit well and felt good. “You come to accept that it’s how glasses are supposed to fit, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Green. 

There’s a tendency for people with larger facial features to try to compensate by putting nose pads on top of nose pads, or rubber bands on the tips of the glasses’ temples for less pain behind the ears. They may also think that their headaches are caused by something else, or that a good massage to the backs of the ears or temples will fix the problem. Unfortunately, none of these strategies work particularly well. What you really need are frames that fit, Green and Harris say. 

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Why a Good Fit Matters 

Ill-fitting frames can take a toll on your eyesight and overall health. “Poor-fitting frames can cause eyestrain, headaches, and sometimes vertigo,” says Sonal Soni, O.D. an optometrist at America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses in Orlando, Florida. This can be a problem with all types of lenses, but especially if you have progressives

What often happens, says Dr. Soni, is that people choose larger frames. But if you have a stronger prescription, that will make your frames heavier. And that can cause indentations in the cheeks, ear pain, or glasses that continually slide down your nose. The discomfort may cause people to not wear their glasses at all, which leaves them with impaired vision as they struggle to see without them. 

Recommended reading: Ask an Optician: I’m told the frames I love won’t work for me. Huh? 

Official by Vontelle Douglass frames at America’s Best
Official by Vontélle Medgar frames  

Tracy and Nancey’s Better-Fit Checklist 

Green and Harris know that prescription eyewear is a medical necessity, and everyone deserves to have glasses that are suited for their face.  

When it’s time to purchase a new pair of frames, the duo recommends focusing on the 3 F’s: fashion, fit, and function. To do that, seek out: 

  • A better bridge fit, including a wider bridge for your nose (a tight bridge can leave marks) 
  • A longer temple length 
  • Larger lenses for high cheekbones — they note that your glasses shouldn’t rest on your cheeks 
  • Fashion and style to fit your personality 

“We want to make sure that we’re a company that promotes and provides size and culture inclusivity in everything we make,” says Green. “We aim to celebrate diversity and the beauty of all cultures. We also want to bring vibrant designs to the masses. Making people look and feel good is our passion, and we want people to wear something all day that is comfortable.” 

Shop the complete Official by Vontélle collection for America’s Best here