The S.B. Questionnaire: Irwin Eve

Seeing Eye to Eye with the Owner of Occhiali Eyewear in Montecito

Irwin Eve of Occhiali Eyewear in Montecito
Paul Wellman

Irwin Eve is not lying when he tells you he doesn’t lie well.

He’s an honest businessman, and that’s the reason why I’ve been frequenting his Occhiali Eyewear store in Montecito for the past 10 years. When you walk into the store and try on several pairs of glasses, Irwin shakes his head in disapproval time after time until you find the pair that suits you best, regardless of whether they’ll make him more money or less. I love watching as his eyes look at you, examining the frames and then taking in the whole picture before issuing a verdict like some Supreme Court judge.

Soft-spoken, attentive, and determined to make sure you leave his eyewear lounge as a satisfied customer, Irwin works hard to earn your trust and repeat business. Plus, he has the coolest inventory in Santa Barbara. I abhor shopping for anything, but Irwin and his staff make me one to come back over and over again. He makes wearing glasses a groovy thing — something that as a kid I thought was geeky, he makes stylish.

Below are his answers to the Proust questionnaire.

What is your motto?

It is simple: “Make good judgments.”

On what occasion do you lie?

I don’t lie well; people seem to know. I try to keep a good golf score, but usually won’t exceed the triple bogey.

What do like most about your job?

I like the personal connections, the opportunity to develop relationships with our customers. Of course, the creative part in eyewear selection and the technical component in proper fittings offer me much joy.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I am intense in my interests. I strive for perfection from myself personally and Occhiali. I love quality in anything. I believe there is a great value in quality, and certainly an appreciation. It can be even slinging burgers, like Pace Food + Drink on lower State Street, where they pride themselves on having the most awesome cheeseburgers. They take their food seriously. You want to be proud of your work, whatever it is.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I say often something is “good form” or “bad form”.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I look for moments of happiness. They seem to pop up when I am in quiet places and I am really aware of my surroundings, which is not easy for me.

What is your greatest fear?

Even though my children are adults, I still view my protection role seriously.

Who do you most admire?

I admire my wife. She amazes me how she balances her roles, overseeing the family and managing Occhiali operations, with the biggest heart inside. In addition, there are men like Larry Auerbach, who worked his way from the mailroom in the 1950s to a prominent figure in the entertainment industry. For recent events, I am wildly impressed with Marge Cafarelli, mostly responsible for the new Public Market here. What a gift to the community!

What is your greatest extravagance?

I am addicted to golf. I take almost weekly lessons with Brent Cole at Muni. I could fill a library with golf books.

What is your current state of mind?

I am someone who has a lot of gratitude. I recognize how fortunate I am to have a wonderful family and to be a part of this beautiful community.

What is the quality you most like in people?

1. Honesty and integrity

2. Warmth of spirit

3. Creativity

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

I recognize no one is perfect. We do our best each day. I try not to be too judgmental.

What do you value in friends?

They make me laugh so hard sometimes. One thing I like about golf is you are out with your buddies having fun. You feel like a kid again playing ball in the street.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I was multilingual. This way when I travel abroad, I would interact on a more personal level with native speakers and have easier access to hard to find places.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would like to “quiet my mind” more often. I feel like I am in a good place when I can be present. Listening to music does work sometimes.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

No question it is my kids. As a parent, it is such a joy to see them become their own person. You see your daughter on stage. You see your son work with passion.

Where would you most like to live?

I would like to spend nine months here, six weeks in New York, and six weeks in Italy. This would always be my home base.

What is your most treasured possession?

A number of years ago we bought in Siena this painting of the hills of Tuscany. The beauty of it just resonates with me.


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