Practice Profile: Eye Candy Optical

Eye Candy Optical is located in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Dr. Kandi Moller cold-started her practice, Eye Candy Optical in Gig Harbor, Washington, in August 2019. With over 1,000 square feet and two staff members, Dr. Moller entered independent eye care because she was seeking true independence from corporate optometry. Read the full interview to learn more about her story, her passion for independent eye care, how she educates patients, and more: 

Independent Strong (IS): Can you please share a bit about yourself and your practice?

Kandi Moller, OD: I graduated optometry school in 1999, was employed for a year, and dove into corporate optometry for 20 years. I grew tired of corporate and of not having true independence. Corporate forces you to keep your fees low, and they insist you  refund patient X for a variety of reasons – they didn’t read the forms they signed, didn’t like being billed medical for a diabetes exam, or because their last OD found astigmatism and I didn’t. There are too many stories like this. 

Five years ago, we found an upscale boutique optical for sale. The seller backed out at the last minute, but I had already signed the location lease, so I was locked in. Three days after moving in, I visited the shop and literally had a heart attack at the door. My landlord and passersby kept me alive with CPR. While hospitalized and unconscious, my organs were shutting down, and they told my husband to prepare for the worst, but I’m too stubborn. I woke up after seven days and went home three days later. I was ready!

We renamed the boutique Eye Candy, and patients love the play on words with my name. I kept with the concept of unique and independent frame lines, and I decided to kick all coupon vision plans to the curb. I dealt with a few when in corporate and detested them. I do take medical plans, but I fight with them all the time. 

Although I am introverted, I have quite a personality in my office. My exams are not boring. I make jokes, we laugh, and I might sing or hum or dance. The office is full of color and fun.

IS: What does being independent mean to you? 

Dr. Moller: Being independent means having no corporate affiliation, showcasing independent frame lines, working however hard I want, when I want, and starting whatever specialty I want. I answer to no one. The sky is the limit on how busy or successful I can be. 

IS: What inspired you to be vision care plan/insurance free? 

Dr. Moller: FREEDOM. I don’t like being told what to do or how to do it. I don’t like my patients having limitations on their choices. I don’t like discount plans funneling patients to their retail stores or online. I read daily in Facebook groups about the audits, chargebacks, and remits that make no sense and the confusing tables of benefits. Patients have no idea and assume we are paid the full dollar amount instantly. When I tell them the truths, they are shocked. Educate them! 

IS: What was the journey like to get you where you are today? 

Dr. Moller: It has been incredibly hard. Being free of vision care plans is not an easy road, but now I can run my office however I please. For example, when my employee Stephanie started with me four years ago, she had a baby but no daycare option, so I let her bring the baby in.  We are family, and if patients didn’t like that then we didn’t want that patient. Same with pets — bring your dog in, please!

IS: How do you educate patients about your decision to not take insurance?

Dr. Moller: The first question patients ask is, “Do you take xyz insurance?” What they should really care about is your experience, the equipment you have, if you can manage their disease, if you’re a nice person, etc. 

We tell folks we can absolutely see them, and we see patients with VSP plans all the time. I also tell patients that we don’t have a contract with VSP, but we can still look up their out-of-network benefits with Anagram. Then, they pay us in full, we submit the claim for them, and they get reimbursed the allotted amount. We also match a certain dollar amount of the glasses benefit, give a discount off multiple pairs, and a discount on glasses when they buy a year’s supply of contact lenses. We make it easy and fun.

I enjoy honestly telling patients the real reasons why we don’t take their plans. Some get it, some don’t. I love it when the lightbulb goes off and they agree that we are smart.

I feel like year four has been the easiest as far as patients “getting it.” We get much less pushback or refusals to book appointments. Our paperwork also clearly states our status with their plan, and we note in their record that they were told about our status upon booking. When someone checks in, we know they’ve already been educated about being out of network, so that makes this conversation a bit easier. 

IS: How do you market to patients without being on an insurance plan list? 

Dr. Moller: I didn’t during the first year. I relied on passersby and the reputation of the previous shop. That was a mistake, so learn from me! I’ve since dabbled with different marketing schemes to my financial detriment, and I’ve also tried ads and social media. We also attended all the community events, car shows, or golf tournaments we could. Now, I rely on search engine optimization online and word-of-mouth, and we now have a reputation for having the most fun frames in our area. 

In the fall of 2020, we got Gumdrop the pig as a pet (@gumdropthepig). We soon realized the public needs to see her. She goes to events, walks around town and our shopping center, and visits our office, all while wearing a tutu. We often paint her hooves and add flowers or a crown to her outfit. She is so famous people pop their heads in the office asking, “Is the pig here,” and ignore me. She is our pet and mascot, and we educate the public on the joys and perils of owning pigs. She has her own business cards, stickers, and Facebook page.

Dr. Moller’s pet, Gumdrop the pig, has become her practice’s mascot.

IS: How has this changed optometry for you?

Dr. Moller: I have no one marching over to discuss a complaint about my paperwork, fees, or prescriptions. I schedule one-hour exams and I do my own pretests. I see patients three days a week, maybe four if I want to work extra. I don’t have to see three to six patients an hour, so this allows my patients to really feel cared for. My heart attack absolutely devastated my husband, so he keeps reminding me to not work so hard.

IS: How has this changed your staffing needs? Practice size? Equipment needs? Frame/lens mix?  

Dr. Moller: Of my two staff members, one has worked in corporate and knows the evils of vision plans, and she LOVES work now. My other staff member has no idea how good she has it. I appreciate that willingness to always improve the office, themselves, and the patient experience.

I currently have one exam room and just added a second dispensing desk. We have an old edger that we hope to upgrade within a year, and I have all the toys from my previous office, so I thankfully have not had to buy those (OCT, VF, topo, Optos). We have classic frames but many unique shapes and colors. I love it when someone walks in and the first thing they say is, “You have the cutest frames.”

We welcome outside prescriptions. We get a lot because we have fun frames and  take the time to style our patients.

IS: Has there been any pushback? 

Dr. Moller: It’s hard when people reject you because of their vision plan and don’t give you a chance to impress them. It’s especially hard when you have only four exams booked all week. I cried and was depressed a lot the first few years, and I contemplated going back to accepting VSP.

IS: What is your best advice to doctors who feel they can’t do what you have done? 

Dr. Moller: Stay the course and know YOU CAN DO IT. Take medical plans, absolutely. Yes, they are a pain, too, but I feel as strongly about billing medically correctly as I do about not taking VSP. 

IS: What is your next goal for your practice? 

Dr. Moller: My biggest goal is to be booked solid the three days I see patients. We are about 75% there. I’m profitable. I’m not rich, but we are not stressed, and I don’t have to see 15 patients a day anymore.

IS: Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Dr. Moller: Email me with questions, or if you want cheers or commiseration. If you are a private practice and thinking of dropping VSP, the Facebook group “ODS drop VCP” is for you. If you are a private practice and currently take no VSP now, the group “Optometry Freedom” is for you. 

Also, in early 2023, I trained at the NeuroVisual Medicine Institute in Detroit, Michigan. I learned how to examine the seemingly impossible patients struggling with non-specific symptoms. I am often their “final stop,” which I love. I can fix what their neurologist or ENT couldn’t. Examining patients for binocular vision dysfunction has reignited my fire for optometry. I spend two hours with them, bill appropriately, and help the previously helpless. Learn more here or ask me!


Email: [email protected]

Instagram: @eyecandyopticalshop 


TikTok: @drkandi

  • Kandi Moller, OD

    Dr. Moller grew up in the midwest and is a self-professed cat freak, currently being owned by six with her husband, plus however many fosters they have. Two pet pigs (yes, they live in the house and are potty-trained), chickens, and whatever else they find complete the menagerie. With 25 years of optometric experience, she wants her office to offer personalized care and unique frames with a fun atmosphere. Adding binocular vision dysfunction, or BVD, reignited her fire for optometry, and she gets even more hugs than she did before, but she still cracks just as many (bad) jokes. She may sing or dance to you and will definitely laugh a lot. To contact Dr. Kandi Moller, email [email protected]

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