When Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar wanted a unique line of sunglasses in 2000, he didn't approach Ray Ban or Oakley. Instead, he called Liquid Eyewear, a company based in Yuma.
“Sammy Hagar actually, when we first started Liquid, asked if we could do a private label for him and we did,” said Kristen Linde, Liquid co-owner. “That was what really gave us the funding to start Liquid. We still to this day do Cabo Wabo eyewear and you can find it on his website.”
Liquid, co-owned by Ken Wilson and Linde, is still going strong 10 years later, and is doing quite well, despite a bleak economic climate.
It is now the preferred company of many famous rockers, including Disturbed, Daughtry and Alice Cooper, according to Linde.
“We are an independent sunglass company, and are associated with a lot of musicians and musical groups,” Linde said, adding Food Network personality Guy Fieri also sports their sunglasses.
The company was founded by Wilson in 2000.
“Ken actually had started it,” Linde said. “He is the guru of aluminum eyewear. He really is. He actually started a company called Gatorz back in the early ‘90s because he was tired of plastic glasses. He decided to work with aluminum and that is where Gatorz came from. He sold that in 2000, and tried to retire but couldn't. He is really at heart an engineer. He loves to design and create, so that is where Liquid came from.”
The custom-patented sunglass designs created by Liquid set the company apart from other more mainstream companies, Linde said.
“The hingeless design, which is what we are known for now in the industry, withstands anything. It is the most durable sunglass anywhere. It's aluminum, it's flexible and lightweight.”
The sunglasses are so durable, they are highly sought after by skydivers, sports athletes and those serving in the military.
That is because the glasses are battle-tested, Linde said.
“We do tests here all the time, and we shot one with a shotgun.”
That pair of sunglasses are currently on display at Liquid headquarters, 1335 S. Pacific Ave. Even though there are deep telltale marks from the shotgun, none of the shots actually made it through the lenses or the frames.
“We call them roll cages for your eyeballs,” Linde said. “That is really what they are. That is really what we are known for — our durability and the aluminum eye wear — plus their coolness.”
Linde, who grew up in Yuma and graduated from Yuma High School, said it is not unusual for a successful internationally known company to be stationed in Yuma.
“It does surprise a lot of people that Liquid is in Yuma,” she said. “We try to do a lot of local sponsorships here, but people still don't know we are here. What is wrong with Liquid Eyewear being in Yuma? People shouldn't be surprised Liquid is in Yuma. It is a cool thing. Yes, it is OK to have a business like this in Yuma, Arizona. Don't be afraid to live the American dream right here in Yuma. If you dream it, it can happen.”
Business is fantastic, Linde said.
“I think it is because people appreciate the value and the durability of what they get.”
Linde attributes a major part of Liquid's success to the fact that their products are all custom-made in the United States.
“Our product is made in America,” she said. “Our machine shop is in San Diego, our powder coating is in Phoenix and our plating and anodizing is in Chula Vista. We cut our own lenses (which) come out of Illinois. Nothing is outsourced. Really and truly — we do it all. We are really proud of the fact that we've kept it here on American soil and I think that also helps promote our growth and people wanting to support it.”
The Internet is an essential tool in sales, Linde said.
“I'd say right now a good portion of our sales are internet-based because we don't have a lot of dealers across the country and we do a lot of international sales.”
Locally Liquid has several dealers including Harley Davidson, Liberty Motorsports, Alexander Ford and Sam's Club.
Liquid also provides prescription sunglasses.
“We offer an optical program where people can go online and order prescription sunglasses, because a lot of (people) use them for motorcycle riding or skydiving. They don't want to have those big Coke bottle glasses anymore. They want something that is streamlined that will actually give them protection and the coverage they need and not look goofy.”
In the future, Liquid plans to keep expanding.
“We just want to continue to grow,” Linde said. “We are getting contacted almost on a daily basis from dealers across the country and around the world. We have dealers in Germany, Puerto Rico and Canada, and we are working on the United Kingdom and Australia.”
Linde said the ability customers have to order custom-made sunglasses gives the brand uniqueness.
“The fact that you can get a pink frame or a yellow frame or a black frame or a polished frame — nobody is going to look the same. You are not going to find it anywhere and all of our stuff is patented and trademarked so there is no chance for a copy cat.”
For more information about Liquid Eyewear, visit liquidpolarized.com or call 329-0006.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.