Beach gear: Knockaround sunglasses
We chat with the CEO and founder of the hip brand perfect for the beach
Knockaround Frosted Cobalt Smoke Premium ($14), knockaround.com. (The Baltimore Sun)
Moyer is a native of the Northern Virginia, and was relaxing in Bethany Beach when we caught up with him about the shades, their design and the future of the brand.
Ace, you grew up in this area and your parents also have a beach house in Delaware. How has the mix of being near big cities like D.C. and Baltimore, as well as spending time at the beach, influenced your work as an artist and a designer?
I grew up in Northern Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C. That area isn't exactly known as an artists' community, but I was always into the art and design. When I headed to [the University of Virginia] for college, I quickly found the studio art department and signed up for some classes. For the next few years I spent all my time making art. As graduation approached, I started thinking about business ventures where I could be creative and make money. I've always kind of had that entrepreneurial spirit.
My parents have had a house in Bethany Beach, Delaware, for many years now. We grew up going to Bethany each summer. Memorial Day weekend, 2005, I was fresh out of college, sitting on the beach and thinking about business ideas. At that moment the name "Knockaround" and the business plan classically of designed sunglasses at an affordable price came together perfectly. I had a pen with me, so I doodled out the logo on a copy of The Baltimore Sun. But at that point it was still just an idea.
When did you decide to start designing Knockarounds?
When I moved to San Diego for grad school later that summer at University of California, San Diego, for visual arts, I had about two months of free time on my hand before classes started. I took $500 out of my savings account and decided to take a chance and start the company I had thought up earlier that summer. And that's how Knockaround was born.
That first package of 300 sunglasses - our "Original" model, we still sell them - took about six months to sell out. Now we sell 300 pairs of sunglasses on our website in a few hours! (www.knockaround.com)
Fast forward 7 years, we have 118,000 Facebook Likes. Celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Jessica Alba wear our sunglasses. We were recently mentioned in US Weekly and Complex Magazine. We have special projects in the works with some of the biggest brands in the U.S. (top secret, can't discuss the details!). Sales are better than ever. So things are good!
What were your most substantial influences at the inception of Knockaround? Like what elements of your surroundings, upbringing, etc., inspired you to start the brand?
Knockaround as an idea started on the East Coast. But the catalyst for actually starting the company was when I arrived to Southern California and was greeted with the abundant sunshine there.
The East Coast is steeped in so much tradition, the architecture, the cities, even the fashion sense. I grew up going to Camden Yards for Orioles games, to D.C. for Smithsonian visits and to Charlottesville for football games in the fall. And so I've always had a reverence for the timeless designs I encountered in those places.
On the flipside, the West Coast has a much more laid-back, free-spirited vibe. So when I moved out to Southern California after college, I was instantly struck with how different it was from the East Coast.
With Knockaround I've tried to meld that traditional East Coast feel with the casualness you find on the West Coast. So we've taken the classic Wayfarer frame and infused it with a sense of creativity. And with our low price points ($7-$25), Knockarounds are perfect for the beach. Because if you do happen to have too much fun and leave them behind, no big deal you can still afford to get another pair!
As far as the tech of the shades, is there anything particular that you believe sets them apart from other sunglasses or do you just try to keep it simple and comfy?
All of our sunglasses offer full UV400 protection. They're lightweight and comfortable to wear. With sunglasses, I think simpler is better. And Knockarounds are pretty tough. But even the toughest sunglasses can break if they get sat on. That's where the low price comes in. For $14, you can lose 'em or break 'em. No big deal.
Now you just signed on as a sponsor of LXM Pro Tour, a professional lacrosse tour. Lacrosse is a huge sport in Maryland and all over the East Coast, but it's growing rapidly throughout the country. What was your motivation to sign on with them and what other future plans do you have in the works that you can tell us about?
I'm a big lacrosse fan. Growing up on the East Coast, lacrosse was everywhere. In college I went to games all the time, even road-tripping up to Hopkins and [Maryland] for games. Knockaround recently signed on as a co-sponsor with the LXM Pro tour. When I moved out to California back in 2005, there wasn't much of a lacrosse scene. But the LXM guys are doing great things to grow the sport on the West Coast. I wanted Knockaround to be a part of that.
Lastly, since this is a beach blog, what advice would you give for the young people out there going to the beach this summer?
My advice to the young people headed to the beach: Don't forget your Knockarounds!