Meet Danielle Gordon from Sphere Optometry :
lives, works & plays in Calgary, mom to two young kids,
wife to Ryan, business owner, philanthropist (Fit To Read and
See The Good Project)...just to name a few.
Before I met Danielle, I knew that she was a good, kind person with a smile that warms your heart. She started Sphere Optometry just over a year ago, and she blew up social media and it felt like Danielle and Sphere had been around for years- everyone was talking about Sphere and the work that Danielle was doing!
There was no question that we wanted to feature Danielle in this Small Business Love photo shoot that highlights a group of inspiring women that are also business owners in Calgary. We officially met the day of the shoot, and I have to say that when we left Sphere, all of us were in love with Danielle.
When you meet Danielle you'll notice her smile and the kindness and warmth in her eyes. She isn't outgoing or loud, but she has a calm, quiet demeanor, and is genuinely interested in people and their stories. She is intelligent, both as an Optometrist, as a business women, a people-person, and a friend. Danielle is also generous with her time and things- never before have I been on a photoshoot where the whole team (myself, Chelsea from Coco & Ash Events that helped plan, the photographer Chelsie Graham, and the hair & makeup artist Priya from Beautymark Makeovers, and Whitney from Crabapple Clothing that helped with wardrobe) was given a gift. But Danielle changed that- she went out of her way to put together a gift bag for each of us, it was such a special gesture that made us feel seen and appreciated.
The more I learn about Danielle, the more I understand that this is just how she is- she makes people feel seen, heard and appreciated. Whether you are a client, a friend or loved-one, or someone that crosses her path momentarily, Danielle makes the time so that you feel special, even if it's just with her beautiful smile.
To learn a little more about Danielle and her business,
and in hopes to inspire you, I asked her to answer a few questions for me. The interview is below:
That’s a tough question – it’s always a challenge to describe yourself accurately! There are, however, a few traits that I consistently notice in all areas of my life. I tend to be a fun-loving introvert and I get my energy through sharing time with small groups of people or recharging solo. I think that’s why I love being an optometrist, because it gives me the opportunity to connect one-on-one with my patients in a really meaningful way. I’ve also been told that although I’m mild-mannered, I’m tenacious and gritty and I think I’d have to agree there. If there’s something I’ve decided to do, I can be pretty relentless in getting it done. I’m also a curious person and I love to learn new things!
I had always wanted to take part in owning a practice and in my field, practice ownership is more commonly achieved through partnering with or outright buying an existing practice. That didn’t seem to be the path that was laying itself out for me and I thought that meant I should put the idea to bed. To get the idea of ownership out of my system, I even went so far as to write a business plan for my dream hypothetical practice so I could file it away and move on with my life. However, when I saw the concept of Westman Village - a development that focused on locally owned businesses, and creating a community hub – I felt compelled to dust off that business plan and give it a shot!
Oftentimes, the delivery of health care can feel transactional and formal, and with Sphere I wanted to create a space that would still allow for high-touch intuitive medical care, and also the fostering of a deeper long-term connection with our patients. I dreamt of building a harmonious team with a foundation of radical honesty and trust, and a space that would be universally inclusive and compassionate. I also wanted Sphere to be a place that would house a hand-selected collection of small-batch independent eyewear and be our patient’s most direct connection to the work of these eyewear designers. So far, building Sphere over the past year and a half with our little team has been a dream come true!
Given that Sphere is just a little over a year old, I would say we are still in the early days! I think it’s pretty safe to say that navigating a new small business through this ongoing pandemic comes to mind as our toughest hurdle to date! I heard somewhere that business ownership essentially breaks down to problem-solving over and over again, and that definitely rings true as we continue to adapt to the curveballs that come our way this year. That being said, I feel so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing team who has had to pivot with me at work and also in their personal lives. Their support and willingness to pull up their sleeves and get into the trenches has been a blessing and so inspirational.
I don’t think there’s anything better than pleasantly delighting a patient, whether through the delivery of compassionate health care, taking a little extra time with our patients, or choosing just the right frame and lenses for their needs. We all truly love what we do and I like to think our patients really feel that when they spend time in our space!
What are three pillars/foundations that your business is built on? And how does this correlate to your personal life?
Sphere Optometry is a purpose-driven full-scope optometric practice and we’re all about kindness and connection, ocular and holistic wellness, and giving back on a local and global level. As I mentioned earlier, we also harbor a deep love for independent hand-crafted eyewear and the delivery of intuitive and compassionate health care.
I feel like the core values we hold close to our hearts at Sphere are just an extension of my personal life philosophy and also are in harmony with the personal values of our whole team. Concepts like kindness, inclusiveness, honoring people and their stories, and taking genuine care are weaved into everything we try to do in and out of Sphere. We are also constantly working to improve in these areas. I think that’s a key reason why being at work for us doesn’t feel laborious because our personal and business values are so well aligned.
How do you give back to your community?
Our philanthropic efforts, or our heart work as we like to call it, are mainly funneled into our Fit To Read Project, an initiative to connect books with kids. All year round we collect books to give back to Calgary Reads, an amazing organization that strives to improve literacy outcomes in children. Additionally, proceeds from every eyewear sale, and sale of our Fit To Read apparel, goes through the project to organizations like Calgary Reads every year.
The Fit To Read Project is so special to us because helping children to read has the potential to significantly and positively impact their future, and ultimately helps to spread the joy of reading in our homes and in our communities. Approximately 80% of what a child learns in school is information that is presented visually, and as an optometrist I see the incredible impact that improving a child’s vision can have not only on their daily activities, but also on their confidence in the classroom and their desire to read and learn about the world around them. Being in the healthcare system, I also see first-hand the role that optimal wellness, both physical and mental, can have on our quality of life, and that includes the many benefits that reading can bring: peace, tranquility, focus and joy.
What is something that you try to do daily/weekly/or monthly that is just for you? That brings you joy?
It’s pretty basic, but I get up really early (usually between 4-5 am), get in my workout, and peacefully get ready for the day while listening to a podcast or two and letting my ideas flow. I love quiet solitude, and with a husband and two little kids it’s rarely quiet in our home when we’re all awake! If I can frontload my day in this way, I find everything else falls into place a little more easily!
I want to thank Danielle for sharing her time, space and story with me. The hope for this Calgary Small Business Love feature was to learn more about women in Calgary that I admire and feel inspired by, not because they are beautiful (which they all are), but because they are authentic to who they are, they don't give up when faced with challenge, and they juggle so many things (including Giving Back, which is huge to me!!) but seem to do it in a powerful and fierce way.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want it to seem like juggling life is easy and perfect, and that some balls don't get dropped from time to time. I see these women juggling all the things (running a business, being real and genuinely kind, giving back, being a friend, wife and/or mom, doing things for themselves) in a way that is true to them and living a life that they love and doing things that they are passionate about.
I also need to thank and acknowledge those that helped make this shoot happen and help create & capture the beauty of this small business community here in Calgary. Yes, there are women in these photos, but there is also a group of women in the background that also encompass all that I talked about- these women are killing it and I am so honored to know them and to have worked with them.
Shoot Organizer & co-Planner : Chelsea from Coco & Ash Weddings and Events
Photographer : Chelsie from Chelsie Graham Photography
Hair & Make-Up : Priya from Beautymark Makeovers
Wardrobe : Whitney & Sheri from Crabapple Clothing