New Outdoor Retailer Exhibitors: ICU Eyewear, Propet USA, Lynx Hooks and Outdoor Girl Rack Systems

About 250 brands were new to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013. We take a look at a couple that caught our eye at the show.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

About 250 brands were new to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013. We take a look at a couple that caught our eye at the show.

>> ICU Eyewear / www.guidelineeyegear.com & www.fishermaneyewear.com / Kirk Hobbs, COO / Hollister, Calif.

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Kirk Hobbs on ICU Eyewear’s Fisherman Eyewear and Guideline Eyegear: “The primary unique feature for both Fisherman Eyewear and Guideline Eyegear are polarized lenses. From Fisherman Eyewear’s entry style at $15 up through Guideline Eyegear’s $80 top-of-the-line frame, all offer polarized lenses. We are constantly working with best manufacturers around the world to stay abreast of trends in lens and frame technology while bringing the most value to customer. [We offer] high-quality and fashionable frames and lenses at a very reasonable retail price point, and we have been building polarized sunglasses for 40 years.”

Tell us about your brands and products. 
Both Fisherman Eyewear and Guideline Eyegear are part of a larger family of brands owned by ICU Eyewear. As well as producing fashion sunglasses, ICU Eyewear is the leading manufacturer of reading eyewear, which allows Fisherman and Guideline to capitalize on ICU’s access to innovation and resource-sharing.

What were you doing before this? 
CEO of Lifefactory, a California-based company that focuses on bringing highly resilient glass into the plastic container world.

Where did your inspiration come from? 
We are inspired by producing the best possible quality outdoor eyewear for the very best possible price.

What’s the one best feature of your product? 
The selection of polarized lens tints and additional glare-reducing mirrored coatings for a variety of outdoor activities, and our bio-based frame material utilized throughout the majority of our Guideline Eyegear frame selection.

What has been your biggest challenge? 
Our challenge is to extend our reach, and rise above all the other brands that are either over-priced or under-performing.

Who do you look up to in the industry? 
We look up to mission-driven companies like Patagonia.

Who do you want to compete against in the industry? 
Our goal is not to compete against any one brand; rather, our focus is on understanding our current consumer, and bringing the consumer great products, as well as working with world-class retailers to bring our products to the new consumers.

>> Propet USA / www.propetusa.com / Jack Krajnak, vice president of sales and marketing Auburn, Wash.

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Jack Krajnak on Propét USA: “Propét’s mission is to offer quality footwear at value pricing for hard-to-fit feet such as wide widths, large and small sizes and those with foot ailments. Known for comfort and versatility, within our collections we offer a line of therapeutic foot care products. Working with podiatric advisers, we have developed new, patent-pending Rejuve footwear styles that bring revolutionary technology to footcare. The Rejuve Motion Technology works by enhancing the natural gait, allowing the foot to function normally and helps to alleviate foot and lower body pain.”

Tell us about your brands and products. 
New for Spring 2014 is our Rejuve footwear line. We worked with podiatric advisers to develop this patent-pending line that offers revolutionary technology for foot care.

Where did your inspiration come from?
When we first started, Propét was inspired to provide a value product that provided comfort shoes for walking.

What’s the one best feature of your product?
Propét footwear is designed to fit feet of all shapes and sizes. Our footwear comes in both whole and half sizes up to size 18 in men’s and 13 in women’s, and in different widths to accommodate different shapes of feet.

What has been your biggest challenge? 
Propét has been challenged to provide new solutions for feet with special needs whether it’s the active enthusiast who gives their feet a beating from all their pursuits or the mature population whose feet are changing as they age yet still want to stay active. As the Baby Boomer market ages, this demographic wants footwear that provides not only the comfort they need but also the style they are used to in footwear. Our new Rejuve product line was developed to address the needs of this demographic as well as the active enthusiast who needs the same support, both with the same goal in mind: to stay active.

Who do you look up to in the industry? 
We look up to the industry’s leaders in technology. There are so many companies pushing the envelope in the outdoor industry, from the small inventor to the large companies like Nike; there are many market leaders who inspire us.

>> Lynx Hooks / www.lynxhooks.com / Karen Hayes, owner / Hayden Lake, Idaho

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Karen Hayes on Lynx Hook Systems: “We present a patented light-utility tiedown for outdoor gear. It’s adjustable from 19 to 45 inches and has interlocking hooks that can be locked together linearly to connect straps together for more length, or in a cluster to build an impromptu cargo net right on your cargo. Its adjustability allows you to hook up long, then tighten down. They are much safer than bungee cords, which must be overstretched or tied in a knot for the desired tightness and can snap and whack you in the eyeball. Click our hooks together and they stay securely locked until you pinch them in just the right place to release the lock.”

Tell us about your brands and products.
The Lynx Hooks tiedown is our first product, and our hooks are the centerpieces of our tiedown system.

What were you doing before this? 
Me: an equine veterinarian and horseman. My three partners: two potato farmers and a psychologist.

Where did your inspiration come from?
Time spent in the wildlands of the Pacific Northwest with inadequate tiedowns for the needs that arise.

What’s the one best feature of your product?
The interlocking hooks. They are tough, elegant, really useful in a growing list of situations and they’re actually fun. Once you start clicking and unclicking the hooks together, you’re, well, hooked.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Tweaking the hook design and finding the right original equipment manufacturer to make them for us. After going through several different contractors, we found one right in our backyard, in Spokane, Wash.

Who do you look up to in the industry? 
Manufacturers and distributors of top-quality outdoor products. The stuff you buy not because it’s cheap, but because a lot of thought and art and engineering and effort and willingness to re-think things went into the design.

>> Outdoor Girl Rack Systems / www.outdoorgirl.us / Heidi Hostetter, owner / Loveland, Colo.

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What were you doing before this? 

Alicia Svaldi and Heidi Hostetter own and operate a defense and aerospace manufacturing site located in Colorado that caters to Lockheed, Ball, Boeing and many other just to name a few. We still do this currently and plan to continue to do so.

Where did your inspiration come from? 
Being women introduced to SUPs, we realized that the fun started when you got to the water but the frustration of loading the equipment did in fact dampen the experience for 85 percent of all women we talked to.

What’s the one best feature of your product?
It’s ease to install and utilize.

What has been your biggest challenge?
The need to ensure that we can offer a quality product for a reasonable price.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
We are new to this industry, therefore have no answer currently.

Who do you want to compete against in the industry?
Thule and Yakima.

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