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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS

Kip Arnette Opens Sport Eyewear Firm

March 07, 2000|LESLIE EARNEST | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Less than two months after sunglass maker Greg Arnette retired, capping a string of defections from Arnette Optic Illusions Inc., his son has co-founded a business making sunglasses and snow goggles.

Sunglass designer Kip Arnette, 29, and Bruce Beach, 34, Arnette Optic's former chief operating officer, are now co-presidents of Electric Visual Evolution in San Clemente. Mike Carter, 28, who was a marketing manager at Arnette, has become Electric's marketing director.

Electric will begin shipping its products to surf shops in May, Beach said.

"We've been . . . working night and day to try and get this thing off the ground" he said. "It's fun. It really reminds me of when Arnette started."

The new venture is no surprise to industry insiders, who had expected that offshoot companies would form after employees began departing when Arnette Optic Illusions was sold, first to New York-based Bausch & Lomb and then to Luxottica Group, an Italian company.

Corporation Eyeball, also in San Clemente, was formed earlier by another group of workers who helped Arnette build his business. Its Von Zipper brand is also expected in stores this spring.

Beach said he and Kip Arnette have bankrolled their new company. He declined to say how much money they've invested, but said Greg Arnette is not involved.

"We're using all of our savings and all of our resources to put it all on the line," Beach said.

The new shades and goggles will be designed and distributed in San Clemente, but will be made in Europe. Beach declined to elaborate.

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