Colorado cool stuff: Hot Straw, Inka, Poplets & Winter Session
Dawn Miracle was working in Parkinson’s disease research last year and found that straws were perfect for patients with neurological disorders. Then she learned drinking hot coffee or tea with a straw had a serious downside.
“Normal straws leach chemicals into hot liquids,” says Miracle. “Nothing existed, so I invented the Hot Straw. It’s free of harmful chemicals.”
Soon she learned that the straws made it easier to drink coffee without staining teeth, and started selling the product in coffee shops and dental offices. Today it’s a full-time job for Miracle, who uses Colorado-based contract manufacturers and gives back 5 percent of sales to Parkinson’s research. And customers love it, she adds. “I get testimonials every week.” $5.99 to $6.99 for a four-pack retail.
Also available at Fluid Coffee Bar and Metropolis Coffee in Denver.
The Inka is a pen with “a pressurized ink cartridge so you can literally write upside-down,” says Julie Hudetz of Nite Ize. “That did all right.”
Then iPads exploded and the company added a tablet-friendly stylus on the other end this January, and the resulting Inka Mobile took off. A newly redesigned Inka with translucent caps debuted in August.
“Now you can see what you get before you open it,” says Hudetz.
Nite Ize has cultivated a nice mobile accessory catalog to complement its core business of lighting products. “It’s all about innovation,” says Hudetz. “That’s what drives our new products.” $11.99 retail.
Also available at REI, Home Depot and Eddie Bauer locations in Colorado and Shieldman’s and McGuckin Hardware in Boulder.
The wife-and-husband team of Karen and Tim Bradley bought Rocky Mountain Popcorn in 2007 to capitalize on their respective skills of marketing and packaged goods, and rebranded the company as Open Road Snacks. Explains Karen: “We needed an umbrella brand to tell people what we are all about: better-for-you snacking for people on the go.”
New this summer are Poplets. “It eats like a Corn Nut but it’s healthier and seven times softer,” explains Karen. Gluten-free and non-GMO, the patent-pending, “partially popped popcorn” comes in three flavors: sea salt and butter, asiago ranch and chile picante.
The Bradleys are targeting convenience stores and gas stations where healthy options are hard to find. “We are bridging the gap between pork rinds and kale chips,” laughs Karen. $1.39 retail.
Open Road Snacks
Available at Conoco and Circle K locations in Colorado.
Roy Katz and Tanya Fleisher started Winter Session as a side project in 2010, making aprons from thrift store finds when they weren’t working as an architect or studying fiber at the Art Institute of Chicago, respectively.
“We started slowly and it evolved,” says Katz. “We didn’t plan for it to be a business.” After discovering the Horween Tannery on the north side of the city, the pair started working primarily with leather, and ended up on the front end of a national trend.
“There’s a revival of leathercraft,” says Fleisher. They relocated to their native Colorado in 2013, and Winter Session now makes wallets, bags and other leather products from its shop and store in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. The new backpack features leather straps and a laptop sleeve, and functions equally well as a hiker’s daypack and a urbanist’s carrying case. Backpacks: $300 retail. Bags and wallets: $65 to $285.
Also available in store at 2952 Welton St.