Upstarts: So-Cal Brothers Launch Up-Scale Eyewear Brand

raen2-web.jpgBrand: RAEN Optics
Owners: Justin and Jeremy Heit
Hometown:Oceanside, Calif.
Product: handcrafted, classic vintage-style sunglasses
Launch: June 2008

A childhood dream becomes a reality for brothers Justin and Jeremy Heit, who have been planning to create their own action sports brand since they were kids. (Photo: Joe Curren)

The overall mood inside the small Encinitas-based Libre Designs studio was relaxed on a recent weekday when Transworld Business stopped by for a visit. The nook – located inside a giant warehouse on a dead-end street – has high, unfinished ceilings and dark mahogany hardwood floors, and is home to brothers Justin and Jeremy Heit, Oceanside natives and heavy-weights in the North County surf scene.

The laid-back atmosphere is contagious amongst the small staff at Libre, but that’s not to say they don’t take their jobs seriously. Several designers were putting in an honest effort for Web layouts in anticipation of launching the Heits’ newest endeavor: RAEN Optics. The brand boasts handmade, classic vintage-style sunglasses, crafted with CR39 lenses and 100 percent UV protection. RAEN could easily be classified as a high-end boutique product because of the glasses attention to detail, but are retailing at a competitive market price ($80-$120).

vintage-styled frames and side windows, handmade of thin, lightweight acetate.“We just want to make something we are very proud of,” Jeremy said. “A product that is timeless.”

RAEN’s marketing has already received positive feedback, drawing interest and praise from several upscale sunglass collectors. The product won’t officially launch until the end of June, and will be available by late July in select shops throughout San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles Counties, as well as a few East Coast locations. The brothers were deliberately selective about marketing the product, using a "stay in your own backyard" approach that will allow them to provide more attentive and personalized customer service, they said.

More than a year of careful planning has gone into RAEN, as the team made sure to cover all its bases – right down to legal trademark rights. Jeremy– a former professional surfer who branched out to work in action sports retail, sales and marketing – easily complements his brother's marketing and branding experience, which includes a four-year stint as Nixon's art director and the re-designing of Surfing Magazine.

Working together, they've created a sophisticated theme around their product, drawing from close friends and acquaintances to construct a team of professional photographers and musical artists. RAEN's family of recognized athletes so far include surfers Rizal Tanjung, Jun Jo, Mitch Abshere , Scotty Stopnik and Chris "Turkey" Stopnik.

RAEN Optics

But the Heit brothers agree that their number one priority in launching the company is the overall quality of the product, and RAEN has meticulously calculated just what it needs to do as a company and a brand to maintain itself within the industry for years to come.

“Our two passions are the product and the design,” Justin said. “This project is all about celebrating design and celebrating modern photography. At the end of the day, we really just want to have fun with this project, and with the people who surround this brand on a global level.”

For more information, check out the company’s official Web site at www.raen.com or contact the team at info@raenoptics.com.