Blog / The KORKZ Eyewear Retainers Origin Story

The KORKZ Eyewear Retainers Origin Story

Ron Hesmer

In preparation for a boat charter in the British Virgin Islands, I purchased a rather expensive pair of Polarized Ray-Ban sunglasses. While boarding the boat it occurred to me that the windy passages, choppy dinghy rides and an abundance of rum made for good odds of losing my new shades overboard. Before setting out the next morning, I channeled my inner “MacGyver” and fashioned a shoestring to a cork remnant from the previous evening’s wine fest.

korkz floating sunglass straps

The original KORKZ, born in 2014 in the BVI

The result wasn’t a masterpiece. It was uncomfortable, too long and didn’t have enough bouyancy to float my glasses, But it was eye-catching, and for the next 7 days, whenever we went ashore I would hear: “Check out that wine cork.” — “Hey, that’s cool! Where’d you get that?” Katharine, my wife, #1 fan and consummate support group would always pipe up and say: “He made it!”


Full disclosure: I don't know who came up with the idea of floating sunglasses straps... but it wasn’t me.  I’m sure I wasn’t the first to utilize a cork for flotation purposes, either, but there was something about the wine cork that got people’s attention. Perhaps wine corks carry an inherent bit of whimsy, or maybe there's a pirate’s vibe to the nautical tether? Dunno, but whatever “it” is turned out to be the spark that launched KORKZ LLC.

korkz floating sunglass strap
sunglass float strap korkz
Ten years, and tens of thousands of Korkz later, we have gone from niche “side hustle” to an international player in the eyewear industry. With child labor (our kids) and an in-house designer/marketer extraordinaire (Katharine), we now have 25+ retail partners throughout the Caribbean (notably Sandals Resorts International), and we continue to customize KORKZ eyewear retainers for people all over the world. Not bad for a “mom & pop” operation that's still run from our meager garage.

With a revamped website and an ever-expanding KORKZ crew, we hope you’ll follow us (and our furry friend, Steve) on our corporate account and on our seaborne adventures to destinations unknown.