Kaleena Ma is the second generation business owner of Mott Optical Group. I was so impressed with her family; owning 6 opticals in the NYC area! I also fell in love with a pair of sunglasses at her shop! I loved talking to her and learning about how she ran her business. Even though we only met a short while ago; I know we are destined to be good friends!
1. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your family business?
My father started the optical business back in 1979 with Chinatown Optical. At that time, he felt that there were too few opticals that catered to the Asian fit and prescription and wanted to make sure the service for these clientele was met. He was an optician who graduated from City Tech and he was very ambitious with his vision in wanting to help everyone. His friendliness and his aim to build the customer relationship is what makes our opticals truly different. Currently, my mother and brother and I are also continuing in his path to making sure the professionalism and care are the center points of our opticals.
2. There are so many opticals in Chinatown. What sets your business apart?
Professionalism, reliability and frame selection are three things that set our opticals apart. We really value that our staff is well trained, friendly, and professional. Our frame selection is the broadest in the NYC area and we try to find the best frames that will fit your lifestyle and prescription.
3. Do you think you will open any other location in the Chinatown area?
Probably not at the moment; maybe another one in Brooklyn in a couple years.
4. You are one of the oldest businesses in Chinatown. Would you want your future children to continue the business?
That would be ideal. :)
5. How many pairs of glasses do you own personally? What is your favorite pair of frames and why?
I own about 10 pairs (RX and Sun) and i really value functionality and comfort above all else that is why the Suki and Lindberg pairs that i own are my favorites.
6. What do you think about “gentrification” in the neighborhood?
I think it will affect local businesses a bit because it will raise of the value of the property and have native people leave. There is also a risk that local businesses cannot keep up with the rent value. There is an upside to it also though because certain chain stores may move in making the area a more attractive one to be in because of its brand recognition. There are both pros and cons, I believe.
7.What is your favorite restaurant and dish in Chinatown?
I like New Malaysian at the alley between Elizabeth and Bowery. Favorite dish would be the soy sauce tofu dish at Congee Village.
8.Favorite ice cream flavor?
Cookies and Cream or Chocolate :)