Barbi Tuckerman: An Optical Legend of Columbus, Living In a World of Fairies?
by Nikki DiBacco
LEF’s Barbi Tuckerman is what we call a “Legacy” of the optical world. Her father and uncle were both optometrists, as well as her brother, Steve. At the tender age of 3, Barbi began visiting her father’s practice, and of course, we all know she ended up in the lab (where all our kids end up, the fascination with the dye unit and patterns just seems to scream ‘come play with me!’ to our children). To Barbi, the optical world is her home. Her passion for colors and design, coupled with her vast knowledge of the industry, have kept her successfully practicing for 39 years.
Barbi loves the stories she still hears about her father, gone for over 20 years, now, from patients that come in and still remember Dr. Tuckerman. Born in Columbus, living there her entire life, and with the whole family ‘in the business’, the name Tuckerman has become synonymous with optical.
Her biggest hobby? Fairies. Well, sort of. She loves to garden, and has created her own gardens in her historical district home. Her fairy gardens include 2 houses, a castle, paths for the fairies to cross, hills covered in moss, fairy dogs, people, children with their own gardens with mini trees, shrubs and fences. She has about 25 fairies…and they all have names. She also has 2 dogs she’s rescued, Carly the poodle and Frank, a poodle/wheaton terrier mix. Carly accompanies Barbi to work each day.
Barbi: Theo, hands down. It fits my motto: “life is too short, have some fun where you can!”
Nikkers: What line or collection have you sold that you still shudder about every time you think of it?
Barbi: It’s not a line, but a product: OPTYL. That stuff melts like nobody’s business!
(Nikkers side note…I still remember the first time I encountered Optyl, and proceeded to gently warm it to bend it, and SNAP went the temple lol, so have to agree with Barbi on this one!)
Nikkers: Where do you think Shuler hides the bodies?
Barbi: I don’t think Shuler has hidden ANY of the bodies. I think he cremates them. Nobody likes to have dead bodies laying around!
Nikkers: If you could have any job in the optical industry what would you do and why?
Barbi: If I could do ANYTHING in this industry, it would be to educate people…and I mean people in every forum. Patients, about the importance of what will work for them optically; opticians, about the importance of knowledge in what they do; and the States, about the importance of licensing all opticians so there is a uniform standard.
Barbi: I believe that managed care has revolutionized this industry and I’m NOT happy about it! People have stopped caring about their eyes; now it’s only about the costs associated with it.
And this, fellow LEF’ers, is a little bit of insight into an amazing woman. Someone we can all, whether we’ve been in the industry 25 years or 25 days, can learn from. But I’m still wondering if perhaps those ‘hills’ in the fairy garden are where Shuler hid the bodies and Barbi just doesn’t realize it??
Nikki DiBacco is a writer, educator, consultant, and optical boutique owner in Panama City, FL. She is also the co-founder of The Visionaries Group. You can find out more about her at visionariesgroup.com