Exeleon Magazine

Renee Bachner: Reading Life with Renee’s Readers

Renee Bachner_Renee's Readers

Leadership is a continually evolving medium. There is no set definition or thumb-rule to leadership. Much like life itself, leadership is ever evolving.

Thus, it is imperative for a leader to stand out and attain success, they need to evolve; evolve with time, technology, culture, and so on.

Renee Bachner is an example of a leader who has continually evolved her leadership approach to garner success in her entrepreneurial venture.

In this Interview, Renee Bachner shares how she built her eyewear business – Renee’s Readers, her relationship with her parents, and the challenges she has faced in her journey.

What according to you makes one a powerful woman? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?

Quite honestly, I never thought of myself as a powerful woman but now that I think of it – maybe I am. Many people have told me I am a strong woman. I think you need to be a strong before being powerful. There are many strong women who get through tough times simply because they have no choice. Their strength transforms into power when they use those experiences to motivate, set goals, and give to others with insightfulness and compassion.

Looking forward but not forgetting how I got to this point cultivates a motivating, respectful environment, a key ingredient to how I approach leadership.

BTW, when the day gets crazy and I find myself feeling frustrated just wanting to get things done, I remind myself to step back and think of the phrase that I must have repeated a hundred times while raising my children – “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” Respect is powerful.

Talk to us about your growing up years and your relationship with your parents.

My parents were immigrants. They came here with no money, and they were determined to make a life for themselves, so they worked very hard and were very resourceful. We weren’t wasteful with food and or anything else and we repurposed whatever we could.

Through hard work, opportunity, sacrifice and determination, my father grew a very successful small business. My mother was fashion savvy, an extremely talented dressmaker and homemaker. That laid the foundation for my entrepreneurial spirit and their outside-the-box approach to many things in their lives now lives in me. The desire to create started when I was very young.

I sewed my own doll clothes, made jewelry from household and food items, and spent hours poring over the Sears catalogue, at the time the only “fashion magazine” I knew. As a little girl, I remember on my frequent NYC subway rides with my mother I would observe the other passengers and reimage them in fashions of my own pretend creation. Even back then, I had a vision for coordinating style with comfort – and here I am almost Medicare eligible doing the same thing but with reading glasses!

What prompted you to start your own business? What was the inspiration behind RENEE’S READERS?

I had a store front optical business where I sold other companies reading glasses and my customers would complain about them. They were supposed to be better quality than what you would buy in a drug store, but the lens clarity and fit still wasn’t good. So, I started to think what I would do if I were to make reading glasses.

During that time, my father had died, and my mother’s Alzheimer’s progressed considerably until she passed 4 years thereafter. Losing my parents, made me think about my life and all the things I wanted to do – RENEE’S READERS was one of them. With an undergraduate degree in Marketing and English and lots of determination I got to work.

My inspiration was the easy part, it was all around me. In my optical store customers, friends, family, and many times complete strangers. Throughout my working life I’ve seen time and time again how the things that we experience throughout our lives surface in our product picks and just by adapting our own method of wear forms a style that is unique to every one of us.

What has been the biggest challenges for you since starting this venture?

There have been many challenges since starting the brand, but one of the biggest is figuring out how to continuously evolve the business to communicate with both your existing loyal consumer base and a newer, younger consumer.

How you as a business communicate with the newer and younger generations can be a challenge, as trends come and go and so do social media channels. Instagram and Facebook may not be the primary socials your target audience uses but staying relevant among the younger demographics is also crucial.

I work to overcome these challenges by reading, researching, monitoring, being hands-on, but also outsourcing where needed. Then, I step back and evaluate and analyze to identify trends and what works and what doesn’t work for my business.

How do you ensure work-life balance?

When you have your own business, often there are no borders especially when first starting out.

Looking back at your journey, what would you have done different when starting out?

I am not sure I could have done things differently because I had other responsibilities that I could not just walk away from. I was a mother of three, a caregiver and a small business owner. That kept me back from devoting the exorbitant amount of time it takes to conceptualize, design, develop, manufacture, market and sell a new product.

Talk to us about your thoughts on giving back and your works with the Alzheimer’s Association.

As a one-time caregiver, I unknowingly found myself sinking into a mentally and physically exhausting, depressing world. I was too consumed with caring for my mother and my family and working that I didn’t realize that I was slowly being swallowed up by fatigue and sorrow. Those were the worst years of my life.

As a support group facilitator, with training from the Alzheimer’s Association, I draw from my own experiences to help the other caregivers. A shortage of qualified caregiving help has left many caregivers with the burden of care 24/7. They are going through the same thing that I went through.

Sometimes just a hug or an empathetic ear can be comforting. To say I know what you are going through, and I am here for you… you are not alone. There is a community at the Alzheimer’s Association that will help you. If I could help, I wanted to be a part of that. Support services such as my caregiver group are a lifeline. It is hard to go through their grief with them, but I feel their appreciation for the comfort I bring to our group meetings. It makes me feel good.

Finally, what would be your advice for women entrepreneurs when it comes to starting a new business?

By nature, I have always been a very practical, fashion conscious and detail-oriented person – which translates into the quality and thought that goes into every pair of my reading glasses. At the heart of RENEE’s READERS, my focus has always been on providing high-quality reading glasses that’s enduring in style and wear with a purposeful aesthetic inspired by the personality and needs of my customers.

If anything, creating RENEE’S READERS has taught me that sometimes we don’t realize our own strengths. As a mother, I raised my children to believe in themselves, work hard to accomplish their goals, and when they fall trying, not to give up and treat others the way they would want to be treated. My own words empowered me, and I hope they will empower women entrepreneurs as well.

Starting a business, today more than ever before requires a huge commitment in every way imaginable. The one bit of advice I can offer is if you want to make it a success be prepared to give it everything you got!

Read Digital Version of the Magazine.

Visit Renee’s Readers Website

Contact Renee Bachner on LinkedIn.

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