Interview Anna Park

Get to know our founder and CEO

About Anna

As the daughter of a minister, Anna moved frequently. When asked where she’s from, Anna shrugs and calls herself a “Midwest person,” unsure of where she’s exactly from. So it still feels strange to her that she’s been calling Washington D.C. “home” for most of her adult life now.

“To be able to participate in the miracle of helping someone see is humbling and immensely gratifying.”

Growing up, she spent much of her childhood at church. And when time came to pick a medical field to enter, she found herself back in the pews. She remembers the hymn lyrics “…make the blind man see.” Those words left a strong enough impression to make up her mind, because come June, it will be Anna's 22nd year in ophthalmology. When asked about her work, she says, “To be able to participate in the miracle of helping someone see is humbling and immensely gratifying.”

She met her husband at twenty-one. Their differences are stark. Anna is warm and reserved, with eyes that are always smiling. Her husband is more conservative and straight forward. “He’s a numbers guy,” she explains. But it’s not hard to see that Numbers Guy is proud of her when he jokes that he has to work harder because Anna’s only concern is about “helping people and not bringing home the bacon.” He thus recalls being surprised when she announced at dinner one day that she wants to start a business. A glasses business.

On the surface, ophthalmology and glasses don’t have much in common. Anna, a medical doctor, and business seem to have even less in common. But just a couple minutes of explanation bridges the gap. “More often than you would think, patients would come back to ask me to recheck their eyes. And time and time again, I’d reach the same conclusion. The problem was not their eyes but their glasses. Patients with astigmatism or those who wear bifocals, for example, need correctly fitting glasses. Ill-fitting glasses would cause the glasses to sit insecurely so they can’t see through the right part of the lens.” She recalls how one patient brought in a bag full of glasses that didn’t fit him properly. Empathy for her patients only grew when she went out one Saturday afternoon to find a pair of glasses for her son whose face is wider than some. In a sea of glasses, she had no choice but to settle on one that was outdated, heavy, and uncomfortable.

"It felt like the right thing to do. There's clearly a problem and we have the means to solve it."

There was never question about getting glasses in South Korea— a busy little peninsula known as the world’s most innovative country. A nation that excelled in petrochemicals, car and ship manufacturing, and electronics was unsurprisingly (or surprisingly perhaps) also an experienced maker of quality frames. People who confirmed this rumor would fly across oceans, prescriptions in hand, to get their perfect pair of glasses. Anna, too, made her trip to Seoul, where she would meet Noon Shop’s first two brands, Steel Brown and Dormann. These brands would be modified to be brought home to D.C.

It feels too easy to say that just two years later Noon Shop was born, because in the thick of three children and her career, it was a lot of work and sacrifice to say the least. Anna and Numbers Guy look at each other through the Zoom call. They’re sitting in the same meeting from different ends of their house "for better focus," but their determination and vision feel unified. “It felt like the right thing to do. There’s clearly a problem and we have the means to solve it.”