– Words by Angela Cowan Photography by Don Denton
Licensed optician Laura Draycott had been managing and growing her unique eyewear boutique Wink i Wear in Kelowna for six years when a chance encounter pushed her business in a new direction.
She met Dr. Tim Degelman at a 2018 fundraiser for Kelowna General Hospital, and quickly discovered they shared a lot of common ground.
“He had recently moved from Saskatchewan, and his wife is a chiropractor,” says Laura, who was a practicing chiropractor herself years earlier. “We hit it off right away, and we had lots to talk about.”
Tim was immediately interested in the boutique, and inquired whether Laura was looking for an optometrist to join the team. His suggestion instantly clicked for Laura, who seized the opportunity to provide absolute comprehensive care to her clients.
“We put a plan together, found a bigger space and joined forces to create a full-service optical shop with a glam-warehouse feel,” she says.
Designs cover the gamut, with a huge variety of shapes, textures and colours to complement any face and satisfy any style. And combined with a truly impressive selection of eyewear, Wink i Wear Optometry now offers comprehensive eye exams with retinal imaging.
“We’re a complete eye-care centre with a boutique flair,” says Laura. “Exams, contact lenses, eye emergencies, medical referrals…we offer it all, and we’re actively growing this aspect of the business.”
Describing the inception of her business, Laura says, “I’d been in optical for a while, and I thought I’d take a chance. I knew that there was some very fun, unique and creative eyewear out there, so I just took a giant gamble that the stylish folks in the Okanagan would be supportive.”
The shop was so successful that Laura needed to bring on extra help by her second month, and many of those first customers have kept coming back over the years.
“Our clientele is amazing,” she enthuses. “We’ve had customers I’ve dealt with for eight years. It’s been such a joy, and I’ve met so many cool people!”
“I never thought I’d be living here, and I never thought I’d be doing this,” adds Laura, who moved to Kelowna from Alberta almost exactly a decade ago. “At the time, I just kept walking through doors.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my hubby, Stephen,” she adds warmly. “I just kind of threw everything into the store and he said, ‘You’ll do great!’ He’s been a big fan and a big support, and that’s really mattered in making the business successful.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
I think it would be interesting to walk my exact life, but as a man. I’m very curious as to how life would have turned out had I not had to deal with the challenges of being female. I’d like to imagine life without sexual harassment, misogyny, low wages, disrespect and ageism as I re-entered the workforce in my mid-40s… Would I have been more confident in my choices? Would I have had more courage to put myself first? Would I have made more money? Would I have been encouraged to become a business leader instead of a cheerleader? It’s an interesting thought experiment.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
Hawkins Cheezies, like a true Canadian!
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
Charter a private jet to England. Buy a convertible Aston Martin and drive around Southern Europe staying at 5-star hotels, eating at Michelin-star restaurants, drinking fabulous wine and seeing everything that France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Malta and Greece have to offer.
Poor-fitting eyeglasses and gross, dirty or green nose pads.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
It is really hard for me to sit still for long periods of time. My idea of doing nothing is spending time with a good book, a cold drink and a lounge chair on a warm quiet beach.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
I can still do a one-handed cartwheel.
What makes your heart beat faster?
At my age, too much caffeine…but nothing gets it going like a challenging game of Dr. Mario with my hubby!