Just call Charleston residents Molly and Ted Fienning and their Atlanta pals Carolyn and Matthew Guard the “Top Guns” of the entrepreneurial world. The four met as undergrads at Harvard. After college, Ted flew off to become a Marine Corps fighter pilot while the rest migrated to corporate careers. But the foursome remained pals with a shared dream: to eventually go into business together.
Inspiration struck in 2010 when Molly was waiting with fellow Marine Corps families on a Beaufort, South Carolina, tarmac and saw kid after kid squinting up at their sunglasses-clad parents. Molly told her husband the juniors needed shades of their own, and he agreed, blurting out that they should be called “Babiators.”
By mid-2011, Carolyn and Molly were making phone sales pitches from their kitchen tables, and today Babiators can be found in 1,800 stores and 45 countries. Sales for 2014 are on track to reach $4 million.
“There was a definite need for stylish, durable aviator frames for kids that come with a guarantee against loss,” says Molly. “But we had no premonition that Babiators would take off as quickly as it has!”
More fun facts about Babiators
➼ Worry-free wearable: Register your sunglasses (which offer UVA and UVB protection) online, and if they get broken or lost in the first year, you can get a free replacement pair.
➼ Star power: Ellen DeGeneres has gifted an audience of pregnant moms the cool shades on her show; Jay Leno gave Simon Cowell a pair on The Tonight Show; and Forbes named them one of ”America’s Most Promising Companies of 2014.”
➼ Baby steps? No way! This month, Babiators launches swim goggles, followed by prescription glasses in July. Fall will bring backpacks, and next winter may see ski goggles and winter hats. All will feature a guarantee against loss and damage.
➼ Buy local: Find info on locations including Southern Belles, Sugar Snap Pea, and Dulles Designs at babiators.com.