15&50, Napoleon Bonaparte – What is the connection? Written by Mark Dolabany
Last summer I turned the big “Five-O” and my first born, Ronia, had turned fifteen… So, Mama Bear, my wife Doralice, thought, “How wonderful would it be to celebrate with a vacation to Europe.” I obliged, of course, and our family of four, which included my eleven-year old son Oliver, embarked on a mini, European adventure
Our vacation started in Barcelona, a city famous for its traditional paella dish, we cruised onto ancient Rome with a quick stop to Vatican City, and after a few homemade pizzas, we took a short flight to Paris. I would not have known then, but I was about to take a trip down memory lane.
Seventeen years ago and recently wed to my lovely wife, Doralice, we spent a week in Paris. She called it a second honeymoon, I called it that… and a 3-day excursion to SILMO, the famous French international optical fair.
We had stayed at Hotel Napoleon, where the charming, wood-paneled lobby gave away its charm and longevity. Paintings depicting Napoleon and his various victorious battles were placed along the stairway. His memory and spirit seemed to guide each guest ascending the stairway to the rooms. Once at the room, guests are welcomed with typical wooden, French double-doors, and elegant furniture, gracefully engraved with hand-carved Victorian-Era designs.
Opening the window shutters each morning, you are greeted with warm sun light, a basket of colorful flowers on the windowsill, and by slightly turning to the right you can see the Arch of Triumph, commissioned in 1806 by Emperor Bonaparte to honor those who fought and died for France, gazing at you with its long history marked by some devastating and other times heartening events.
What is the connection, you say?
You see, during my first trip, I had been preoccupied with finding a name for newly designed frame collection. Just as the hotel named after Napoleon Bonaparte, I wanted the brand name to capture the spirit, the persona of my new collection.
Strolling down the old streets of Paris seventeen years ago, I observed the artists carefully brushing their canvases with amazing talent. They had instantly reminded me of my own frame designs. They had also been hand-painted with a small artisan brush, each frame with no less than five rich colors.
At this time, the product was finished and ready for branding. I was getting constant requests from the factory for the branding decisions so that they could continue with the final printing, and for me to launch the eyewear collection.
The requests had gone unanswered, which further delayed the launch. Until one afternoon sitting in the hotel room, gazing through a thick book of glossed pages of artists painting (just as I had seen in the streets of Paris), I noticed that in the description of these gorgeous photographs, they repeated the word plume. I asked my wife, who did not speak any more French than the three words I knew, what she thought it meant. She could only conclude that it was similar to the word “pluma” in Spanish, meaning a pen or brush. Since Google did not exist then, I asked the receptionist for its meaning and she confirmed that “plume” in French could mean fountain pen or a painter’s brush. And voila! In one single word, the perfect brand name was born. It captured the spirit of the brand and what it represented to me in more ways than one.
As the four of us circled the Arch of Triumph, I peered down each avenue that intercepted at the great monument trying to locate the hotel where my wife and I had stayed seventeen years ago. And sure enough, there in the distance, I spotted the sun-exposed, basket of crimson flowers adorning each windowsill of the hotel. As I walked at a quicker pace than everyone else’s, I entered the lobby first, immediately I confirmed that Napoleon’s paintings and his overall spirit were still present, welcoming the guests of the hotel.
Thank you monsieur Bonaparte and thank you to the city of Paris for inspiring me seventeen years ago to find the perfect brand name for my eyewear collection Plume Paris.
I just wanted to share…
About Mark Dolabany
Mark Dolabany, founder and CEO of Best Image Optical, is also a certified speaker of the American Board of Opticianry. His interest in the optical industry began at a young age, dedicating summer vacations to working at a family-owned optical store, learning to love all aspects of the trade, and then later becoming a Massachusetts-licensed optician.
His commitment to the craft developed into a passion to design and produce the company’s frame collections Dolabany Eyewear, Mario Galbatti and Plume Paris.