The Optical Women’s Association (OWA) has announced the winners of its 2021 OWA Awards, though it is still working out details for their presentation. Gai Gherardi, co-founder and co-designer of l.a.Eyeworks, is receiving the Pleiades award for advancing the leadership of women in the optical industry, while Deborah Myres, owner of Visual Inspirations, is receiving the Pyxis award for her efforts as a member of the OWA.

Gherardi founded l.a.Eyeworks with Barbara McReynolds in 1979 as a single store in Los Angeles. There are now two stores in the city and a wholesale division that distributes an international network of independent opticians and retailers. Gherardi has long served on the board of Art Matters, a grant foundation, and on the Eyewear Designers executive committee of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). She is also a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force sponsored by The Vision Council.

A 30-year veteran of the optical industry, Myres has worked for Tura and Marchon in both sales and management and developed optical displays for the luxury display company Pacific Northern. In 2018, after a brief retirement, she founded Visual Inspirations to produce affordable luxury eyewear cases. She has been a member of the OWA since 2009 and is co-chair of its Mentoring Committee. She helped start the Tuesday Talks webinar, now a podcast called OWA Talks, and helped launch OWA Reads in 2020. She is now working on OWA Advisory Groups, a new program to connect members through various business disciplines.