Posted: November 25, 2013
Colorado cool stuff: Cat-Ears, Powerice, Matterial, LivligaBy Eric Peterson
Rick Weissner liked biking with friends on weekends, but found chatting difficult. “Typically, you try to catch up, but you get a fair amount of wind noise,” says Weissner, a financial consultant. So he launched Cat-Ears in 2012 to solve the social biking conundrum.
Inspired by the animal kingdom, Cat-Ears use faux fur to divert the rush of air around the ears and stifle noise. The company has since launched eight Cat-Ears products, including Ear Covers for cold-weather riding.
“The business is doing well and expanding and profitable,” says Weissner, touting sales in 30 countries. “We sold a pair to a guy in Abu Dhabi.”
$8 to $16 retail.
“I have struggled with weight all of my life,” says Sheila Kemper Dietrich, founder of Livliga. She’s far from alone: Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. The size of our plates are part of the problem, says Kemper Dietrich, the former executive director of the American Heart Association’s affiliate in Denver.
“We live in this super-sized world,” she says, noting that plates have grown by 50 percent in the U.S. since the 1960s. In response, Kemper Dietrich developed Livliga dinnerware, featuring right-sized porcelain plates with artistic cues that help with serving sizes.
She followed up with a companion brand, Kidliga for the younger set. And it works. “I’ve lost 50 pounds – and kept it off,” Kemper Dietrich says.
$49.95 for a setting retail.
MATTERIAL MATTER, a Denver-based design firm founded by Rick Griffith in 1999, went into the craft manufacturing business in 2007 under the brand name MATTERIAL. First were notepads used by MATTER in-house.
“If we need it ourselves, we’ll never be stuck with a bunch of stuff nobody wants to buy,” Griffith says. But it caught on and the line now includes everything from underwear to book shelves.
New this year is Solidtype, a typeface-inspired line of decor that ranges from three-inch puzzles to $3,200 desks, with every letter of the alphabet in the catalog. Everything is made in Denver.
“All three of the last centuries are present in our manufacturing process,” says Griffith, highlighting a printing press from the late 1800s and a state-of-the-art laser cutter. “The whole concept of design as a sustainable act is why we make everything here.”
$10 to $3,200 retail.
A healthy hybrid of sports drink and popsicle, “PowerICE is the only healthy frozen electrolyte product there is,” says PowerICE President Grant Fenton.
It not only replenishes depleted electrolytes, but PowerICE also helps athletes cool down.“Cooling your core temperature is imperative to your performance,” says Blair McNamara, head of sales. The company relocated from the East Coast to Steamboat Springs in 2012, and launched in early 2013. It’s now available at 150 stores in 24 states, and numerous pro and college sports teams are customers.
Health care is a big target market, adds Fenton. “Ice is used in virtually every department at a hospital.”
$1.50 for a single unit or $6.99 for a six-pack retail.
Also available at Runners Roost in Denver, Old Town Bike Shop in Colorado Springs and Walgreens in Steamboat and Avon.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com