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In 2012, I made the crazy decision to fly halfway across the world, and work in South Korea for a year. I was exhausted from my high school and college journey. Also, unlike my peers, I didn’t have any job offers lined up when I graduated, so I needed an escape. It was something that I wasn’t even sure I’d do until the plane was flying over Japan and I realized that it couldn’t turn around. That year was the beginning of the definition of Juliette. It was my first time living outside my parents’ house. I learned so much about who I was, and what I accepted as my truth. It was there that I discovered my passion for empowering and uplifting others.
During my last few days in South Korea, my pastor, who was also the director of my school, gave me the Korean name, Na Nuri. It comes from the Korean verb, Nanuda (나누다), meaning “to share”. He commissioned me to share my gift wherever I would go. I remember asking God to use me to touch people from different backgrounds and cultures. I didn’t know what that meant, but those words were profound, and would set a precedent for how I would ultimately grow.
South Korea was not only the place I found my purpose, but also where the seeds for NURILENS were planted. Since childhood, I have loved to collect everything; keychains, cheap watches, brooches, and other things that allowed me to express my personality. Glasses were no different. Living in South Korea, I realized that I could get several affordable pairs of eyewear that were fashionable and would match my different wardrobes. So, I started stacking up. I think at some point, I must have purchased about 20 pairs. Some had bling, others had swirls, and were of different shapes and sizes. Interestingly enough, when I founded my first company, JUNURI, in 2018, I remember saying that the next pair of glasses I purchased, would be ones that I have personally designed, but I never took myself seriously. Ironically, the same glasses that I had for years, started breaking within months of my founding NURILENS.
In 2019, I discovered the world of blue-light blocking glasses, that gamers often wear to reduce the eye strain from playing video games all day. I saw the benefits and became interested in learning more. Given that my primary clientele for JUNURI was students and professionals, it caused me to think how they too, sit for hours in front of their screens, and would benefit from this. As someone who also sits for hours in front of a screen every day, I would also benefit from them. Months later, I worked with optical professionals, who helped me understand how to fill prescriptions, for people like me who need corrective lenses. I then put pencil to paper and sketched out designs for glasses, which led to me to buy my first sketchbook. Letting my creativity flow on paper felt great and liberating.
I don’t remember how the wood idea came about. It was probably me trying to be different from the norm. But it was symbolic. It had meaning and purpose that I was yet to discover. During the product development process for the frames, I was also learning, healing, and evolving. Because I believe that there is a reason for everything, I really needed to understand what using wood meant. It had to mean more than the fact that I have a mom who loves handcrafted wooden everything. Soon after, I discovered that wood symbolizes longevity, knowledge and wisdom, which was part of my life’s learning journey of healing, evolving, and choosing to love who God made me to be.
Since NURILENS’ official launch on November 10, 2020, I continue to live according to that calling I received in South Korea. It’s been quite a journey, but so worth the ride. There’s a biblical verse (Habakkuk 2:2-3) that says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end, it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” It’s a reminder to myself that no matter the challenges that come along my life's journey, I need to continue to focus on my lens, and walk in my purpose. I say purpose, because people don’t always achieve potential. It's often determined based on people’s perceptions of you. But your purpose is something assigned and unique to you. It’s your calling. It represents the impact that you were meant to make. It’s not assigned to a title. It’s about the big picture, and no one can take that away from you. That’s what I and my team strive for day-to-day.
With that reminder, I created a product that would celebrate my customers, their cultures, backgrounds, and what makes them unique. I pass the baton to you, hence the mantra, “See through the Lens of Your Purpose”. Every time you open up your eyeglass case, you’re unravelling a treasure, and an experience that reminds you to be the best version of you, be purpose-oriented, and remain on your path to excellence, no matter the challenges.