It’s another wonderful Chicago North Shore Moms Meet a Mom interview! We just love celebrating local North Shore moms, aren’t these stories heart-warming and inspiring?! This week’s Meet a Mom interview is Dr. Vlada Nakhlis, owner and optometrist (Doctor of Optometry) of the bustling Optometry offices, EyeSee, located in the heart of Lincolnshire (yes, in that awesome shopping center with just about everything) and Des Plaines! The super busy mama of three young children has worked her butt off to be where she is today. Read on to see how Vlada, originally from the former U.S.S.R., came to the Chicago area, earned her degrees, traveled the world, had her babies and is not juggling all of this history whilst maintaining a top-notch business serving families all over the North Shore. Enjoy!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to your current town?
Hi, my name is Vlada Nakhlis, and I am originally from the former USSR, in particular the territory that is now considered Ukraine. I immigrated to the States in 1989 as a child, and lived in Rogers Park, Skokie, Chicago, Morton Grove, and now a proud resident of North Shore suburb Highland Park. Me and husband and my oldest child, Ivana, moved up north to Highland Park from Morton Grove back in 2011 when we bought our first house here and fell in love with this beautiful area immediately. It’s also a first home to our other two children that followed shortly after.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have 3 children—2 girls, Ivana and Elina, 9 and 7 years old, and the youngest is a boy, Atanas, who is 4 years old.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom? Please share at least one mom “hack/tip” that makes your every day life a little easier!
My favorite thing about being a mom is the 20 second hug rule that I’ve implemented after seeing a short ad on Facebook about how a 20 second hug releases more positive hormones and creates a stronger sense of happiness and stress relief than any drug in the world. It was explained that we moms release “MOTHERHOOD hormones” which produces the most satisfying and calming feeling in the world. And it truly does work whenever I come home from work exhausted, drained or stressed out, it always creates happiness and a calming through me when I give a 20 second hug to my kids. What a powerful thing it is being a mom!!!
About a hack or a tip that makes my every day life easier is empowering my children to be more independent when we go places and taking charge of the situation, like packing their lunch WITH me, packing their clothes WITH me, picking out their clothes for the day WITH me, and being responsible for their own experiences based on how prepared they are for them. I learned a little bit of that from my middle child’s Montessori experience.
Least favorite mom job?
Least favorite mom thing is disciplining my children, because my heart always breaks for them when I feel that they are upset. This is something I am working on, being tougher with them. I came from a very strict disciplined background and it definitely served me well.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
My biggest passion in this world is world travel, with a never-satisfied travel bug within me. The more I travel, the more I feel I’ve seen nothing yet. Before having a career and children, I basically lived out of my backpack/suitcase and before I was 25 yrs old, I’ve already visited more than 20 countries. I also like very unusual music, and have traveled to various states just to attend concerts and music festivals. My love for music comes from my parents, my mom being a classical pianist and, I myself, have extensive music education and play piano and sing. I am also very spiritual and interested in bettering and strengthening my inner self, thanks to studying Kabbalah for over a year.
Also, I’m so proud that my husband and I help participants of Special Olympics each year! We attend the event each year to help disabled children/adults get the vision correction that they require.
Favorite local places to spend with the family?
Botanic Gardens with the kids, Renaissance Fair, Sushi Badaya, Mehanata Bulgarian Restaurant, our backyard pool in the summer.
You are a true mompreneur! Tell us about your business!
I am an eye doctor, specifically doctor of optometry since 2004, and own/manage and provide full scope medical and specialty vision eye care services at 2 optometry clinics (formerly 3, of which one I sold a year ago)—one in Lincolnshire and one in Des Plaines. Our services are very comprehensive, innovative, thorough, genuine and detail oriented to everything related to eyes, eye health and vision, ranging from basic optical needs to advanced and unheard of treatments (such as orthokeratology), pediatric-oriented eye exams, as well as urgent eye care services like Foreign body removals and amniotic membranes for corneal wounds. I am very proud and happy with what we’ve created and are continuing to grow. It’s very hard work, with long hours, and never ending worries, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What was/is the inspiration and/or training involved behind your business? What is your background and how did your background help with getting involved in your business?
Straight out of school I began working in retail optometry at “big chain” stores that everyone has heard of. These stores are notorious for creating the wrong reputation for optometrists as nothing more than “glorified opticians” despite of our extensive and gruesome 8 years of medical training/education. I wanted to do more and be more of what I studied to be! Private practice, as difficult as it is in a sense of running a business and how time consuming it is, is the only form of freedom that I could think of to be able to provide the services that patients need all in one place. A visit to an optometrist’s office doesn’t require you to wait for months to see an ophthalmologist for 5 minutes. Plus, you and your family can also receive specialty vision services, like specialty contact lenses, vision therapy, orthokeratology and myopia management that only few and specially licensed/trained optometrists can provide. I am specifically trained in these areas of eye focus. Pun intended!
My background is medical and that’s why I wanted to run a medically oriented optometry clinic. I come from a family of MD’s, and I was on the track of going to Med School. I changed my mind last minute, because I was very focused on dealing with eyes. So, I chose Optometry, because it’s a specifically eye/vision field, that is evolving and growing and never ending potentials, and it assures that I get to provide eye care that I have always been fascinated with. As a child, I used to draw pictures of eyes all over the place, and always found it to be the most fascinating organ in the body. That is how I practice as well in a sense of treating as an organ, as a part of the bigger whole, and best vision comes from a healthy eye, not just a correct glasses/contacts Rx.
What are some of your proudest moments with your business where you said “wow, I did that”?
When I fit my first patient with Orthokeratology, and he came in the next day with a huge smile on his face, that for the first time in the last 8yrs of his life, he woke up seeing clearly.
Another moment was when I properly diagnosed and treated a previously misdiagnosed (not by me) corneal erosion, on a patient that was in dire/debilitating pain and when she left the office after getting corneal debridement and amniotic membrane, she could open her eye for the first time in weeks and could actually stop crying. She gave all of us a hug and that’s when I felt the “wow factor”.
How important is it for you to have a passion outside of being a mother?
To me this is very important, because before becoming a mother, I was so much more than just a woman. I always have thirst for knowledge, achieved professional doctorate degree, and had a strong drive to change the world for the better. I wanted to see all of the world (as I previously mentioned), bond with other people, and achieve higher spiritual level. And I strongly believe that being a great mother is being a great leader by example, and not just being a nurturer. I do wish I had more free time to spend with my kids, I do admit, but I am sure that they are learning a lot from my examples by observing me as a hard-working person too.
When parenting gets hard, what’s something you tell yourself that gets you through?
These kids are the biggest blessing that I have and nothing that’s worth something ever comes easily, because we would learn nothing from it otherwise. Every difficulty/challenge is an opportunity to grow. It’s a gift, not a punishment, and it’s up to you how you rise up to this challenge.
What’s on the horizon for your business? Future aspirations, plans….
Sky is the limit. We started our Des Plaines business cold, so it’s still a toddler, and we acquired our Lincolnshire office only a year ago, so we are still in a restructuring phase. Can’t wait what both of them will shape up to be and how we can continue to grow this wonderful practice that we have started out of passion!!!
Visit Dr. Vlada Nakhlis at her Lincolnshire office located at 275 Parkway Dr., Lincolnshire, IL 60069. Dr. Nakhlis specializes in Pediatric eye care, Orthokeratology (overnight vision correction), LASIK surgery co-management, Dry eye center of excellence, Myopia control management (nearsightedness), Foreign body removal and more. Click here to view current in-network insurance companies and schedule your consultation!