The inspiration for Atollas lies somewhere at the bottom of the Kiawah River outside of Charleston, SC. That’s where our founder Shea Tighe, an avid surfer, fisherman, and paddleboarder, went out for a sunrise paddle in July 2012.
He packed the essentials: a good PFD, drybag with cellphone, a whistle, and his Costa Del Mar sunglasses.
A little after putting in and cruising down the river, wake from a passing boat made him lose balance and hit the water. Everything was present and accounted for - except his $200 shades.
Frustrated with the incident, Shea paddled back in, went home, and began researching eyewear retainer systems that would have kept his sunglasses from sinking.
He was disappointed with the results. Most retainer systems didn’t float, rendering them useless if they were to end up in the drink. And the ones that did float looked clunky or ill-conceived. And floating eyewear? Well, that idea wasn't appealing either as a retainer system kept his sunglasses around his neck when not in use.
Bottom line: There simply wasn't a performance floating retainer system exclusively for those who spend all their time on the water.
Having a background in design, Shea began sketching concepts. He researched materials to learn what would provide both durability and buoyancy. Using nature as inspiration, he studied bio-mimicry to develop a unique look and style. On top of that, Shea looked for opportunities to add functionality like enhancing visibility.