For Dr. Afira Hasan, opening her own practice has always been about people.

"It's all about who's in Eden Prairie, what they're looking for," Hasan said.

She opened Insight Vision Care, at 7731 Flying Cloud Drive, on Aug. 6, 2018, a month ahead of schedule after a year of planning. She hired a Realtor, an attorney, IT experts and two opticians. She created her own website and social media. She handles Insight's insurance claims. And on top of all that, she sees patients for regular check-ups and urgent care.

"I'd never done it so I wanted to do it myself," Hasan explained.

In part, she credits a strong community for her success.

"I talked to the right people along the way," she said. "There's always people to help."

Hasan turned to the American Optometric Association for advice, foregoing a consulting firm to save money. She's learned by doing, she said, and has been lucky not to encounter too many obstacles.

"It was a fun process," she said. "Like any business owner, you're learning through what works and what doesn't."

Hasan never thought she'd find herself at the helm of her own practice. For most of her career, she contracted with larger eye care providers in retail eyewear shops or all-in-one stores like Target.

"I literally saw patients and I left," she said. "I actually love interacting with patients." Starting her own practice "was never a goal of mine."

Running her own practice gives Hasan the flexibility to provide personalized care for clients and work with vendors that do good in the world by donating eye care to developing countries and planting trees for every set of frames sold, she said.

The office is also paperless, although Hasan knows the cost of screen time better than most: "The biggest complaint that we get is tired eyes at the end of the day," she said, from working all day at a computer.

The flexibility of being her own boss also allows Hasan to be available for her two middle school-aged kids. Her office is just a few miles from their school, and Hasan often drops them off at the start of the day and can take a break mid-afternoon to pick them up after classes end.

"Family is so important," Hasan said. "My main want in opening a practice is to be close to home."

Hasan and her husband, Jafar, moved to Minnesota from Houston 14 years ago. They have family across the United States, from Florida to Texas to New York, and they work hard to stay connected across the distance.

"Those are our vacations, to see family," she said.

The people Hasan hired — Beth Hawyard and Jackie Sotoj, both opticians — have become a bit like family as well, she said. Working with people who want to grow and learn is part of what makes her feel so fortunate and ready to carve out a place for Insight Vision.

"Every day is a little bit new," Hasan said. "I wish I had done it 10 years ago."

Eden Teller is the multimedia reporter for Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about fostering productive conversations and empowering communities. When she's not reporting, she can be found reading a book, on a hike or tackling home improvement projects.

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