Babiators (n.) – Amalgamation of the two words baby and aviators; sunglasses for children
Ted Fienning remembers the moment when the small sunglass company he had formed with his wife, Molly, and their two friends, Matthew and Carolyn Guard, was on the verge of something special. His wife had just given birth to their first son, Harry, in the fall of 2011. “My wife was in the hospital bed recovering and reading US Weekly and she saw Babiators on Mariah Carey’s baby,” Ted said, laughing. “Molly started jumping up and down, yelling that these are going to be a hit. She was so excited. And she was right.”
About a year prior, it was Molly who had conceived of the idea while on a military base in Beaufort, South Carolina, as planes made their descent onto the runway. “She was seeing all the kids waiting for their parents to come in with all the wives wearing aviators and all the husbands wearing aviators while the kids were looking directly into the sun,” Ted, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot, told American Sunglass. “She realized they needed some eye protection. She said to me, ‘We should make baby aviators’ and we came up with the name Babiators.”
The couple brought the idea to their college friends, the Guards, and a company was formed. It was a simple concept – sunglasses aimed at kids; they were durable, colorful, stylish and, most importantly, they protected children’s eyes. That last part, Ted said, should not be understated. “Research shows that up to 50 percent of one’s lifetime UV sun damage occurs before children reach the age of 18,” he said. “Even today, we don’t talk a lot about sunscreen for the eyes. When you’re at the beach, moms slather their kids in sunscreen, on their arms, feet, legs, every part of the body… But the eyes have so many health issues as well.”
With 100% UV protection, Babiators ensure your child’s eyes are properly shielded from the sun’s harmful rays.
Education has been a key component to the Atlanta-based company’s marketing efforts which have seen it featured in such media outlets as Bloomberg, Fox Business, People Magazine and Newsweek. A slew of celebrities – Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner and Sarah Jessica Parker, to name a few – have embraced the brand for their own children.
Roughly a year into the venture, Ted said the company received a huge push when Nick Cannon appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and spoke about how his kids loved the sunglasses. “And then our servers crashed,” Ted laughed.
Today, the company is entering its sixth year, having sold more than one million pairs of sunglasses for children all the way up to teens. They even offer a one-year lost or broken guarantee.
For Ted, he derives satisfaction in “building a company that supports the families that work with us. That is part of the American dream as a business owner.”
As for the future of Babiators, he said, it is to continue “growing into a brand that parents trust… We don’t ever want to lose focus on protecting kids’ eyes. I feel like we’ve created a category here and we’re making it known eye health for youth is an important thing to promote. And we think our sunglasses look great on kids and so do moms and kids.”