Eye Opener

By Ron Donoho

Our thirsty world would be a much dryer place if it weren't for bottle openers, which, thankfully, come in all shapes and sizes - on belt buckles, hats and footwear (1.6 million pairs of opener-equipped Reef Fanning sandals were sold in the first six months they were offered).

You'd think an idea as simple as sunglasses with bottle openers would have already flooded the market.

Nope.

According to a local entrepreneur, his company's bottle-opening eyewear is one of just two models currently on sale. Liquid Shades co-founder Patrick Eckstein, whose glasses are made of titanium, considers his product (retailing at $120) a higher-end version of the plastic/metal-reinforced pair of opener-glasses that go for $15.99.

Eckstein, a former partner of San Diego's nightlife megastars DJhere Productions, has three partners, each with varying links to San Diego. The glasses started as a college project, but once the quartet felt they had a legitimate product, they sought funding through Kickstarter.com (an online pledge system for funding projects).

It was a rocky process, says Eckstein. But after starts and stops, the company hit its goal of $15,000 in four days. Over a 40-day run on Kickstarter, they got 273 backers to pledge $26,783.

The money went into manufacturing and tooling costs, stress-testing and raw materials.

"We're minimalists and we know we didn't invent something really ground-breaking, but we like products that are made well and last a little bit longer," says Eckstein.

Will Do
The name behind the brand

Liquid Shades were promoted on Kickstarter.com under the name JackHawk 9000.

If that name of these titanium bottle-opening sunglasses rings a bell, it's because you may have caught the movie reference.

"The JackHawk 9000 is a utility knife that Will Ferrell mentions in ['Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby']," says Liquid Shades co-founder Patrick Eckstein. "I don't know...we may have to change the name. But we did meet Will Ferrell on the golf course in Coronado. And we gave him a beer and the sunglasses. He didn't seem upset about the name."

Safety tip: remove sunglasses from face before opening a cold one.

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