Mistake as secretary redirects career path

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, March 15, 2009

Alaina Softing never thought she would be co-owner of Innovision Eyecare and an optometrist when she was growing up, but a mistake she made redirected her life and made it better, Softing said.

Softing said she never liked high school. She graduated early and worked as a secretary at a food brokerage. She ended up getting fired from her position because she sent a truck of sunflower seeds instead of almonds across the county.

This error helped Softing get where she is today. Softing said after getting fired, so didn’t know what to do, so she went to college. She started in home economics, but got bored and switched to science.

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Softing had to write a research paper on a profession and she picked optometry. It ended up sounding really interesting, she said. She didn’t go to school right away for optometry, but she said she always had it in the back of her head.

When she first came out of college, she taught high school biology. But she had the idea of being an optometrist still in the back of her head and that is just what she did.

stays busy with her children, Sydney and Selena



family fun

goes Rollerblading

enjoys movies

plays Nintendo Wii


learns about history

Find Innovision Eyecare

Albert Lea location: 232 S. Broadway Ave.

Austin location: 318 N. Main St.

Softing worked as an optometrist in Oregon for a short time and then did a round from Duluth to Superior, Wis., to Virginia, to Hibbing for six years and also did some seminars with an occupational therapist. Then, she moved to Austin and commuted to Philips Eye Institute in Minneapolis where she worked in the vision rehab department for six or seven years. She also opened up Innovision in Austin and Albert Lea with her optometrist husband, Gareth Hataye.

Alaina said she loves owning her own business with her husband. “There is an independence, but it all falls on your shoulders. I like the responsibility,” she said.

She also said that she and her husband really appreciate their patients. Because it is their own business, they are directly connected to their patients, the optometrist said.

One of the ways Softing and her husband like to connect with people is by hosting Kid’s Day. Kid’s Day is an event held once a year at Innovision Eyecare in Albert Lea and Austin. It is around Crazy Days. Any kid can come in and get a free vision screening. There are treats and prizes and other fun games. Softing said she even shows the kids how everything works and lets them moves the different knobs and answers questions. The optometrist said she and her husband had read an article about it in an journal and thought it sounded like a good idea, so 14 years ago they started Kid’s Day.

“It’s a fun day,” she said.

Innovision does other pro bono work. The staff goes to the nursing homes to do glasses adjustments. They also work with a program called Site for Students. It is for students who need glasses but cannot afford them. Innovision donates its services and another company provides free glasses. The program is at the Austin clinic and coordinated through the Y. If people are interested, they can contact the Y about how to apply, the approval is based on information like yearly income.