RAEN team rider Rizal Tanjung
Justin Heit is a smart dude. His new line of shades have taken what’s hot and put a modern spin on them, without an ounce onf bandwagon hopping going on. If you haven’t noticed, there has been a steady influx of nostagia in sunny styles lately. From the risky business to Devo, and everything in between it’s an ‘80s world out there. We’ve gone from gone from wrap around to cut back and now we’re ready to rebound off the whitewater with some modern takes on classic shades. We sat down with Justin to find out just where the inspiration comes from and try to find out how we can stay cutting edge without wearing the same knock offs they got at Wal-Mart.
SURFING MAGAZINE: HI JUSTIN, WOULD YOU MIND INTRODUCING YOURSELF?
My name is Justin Heit and I’m a proud father, mediocre husband, creative director, business owner, surfer, California native, and I love to live and live to love.
YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE SURF/ART/LIFESTYLE/RAD-GUY INDUSTRY FOR A LONG TIME. GIVE US A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON ABOUT HOW YOU’VE EVOLVED AND COME TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY.
I don’t quite know if I’m a rad guy. I still can’t rock a scarf and I get a hard on every time I wear tight pants. I’m also having trouble wearing neon colors again … I’m still trying though. Anyway, here’s a little history:
I grew up in a competitive surfing environment in Oceanside, California. That has seriously lead me to where I am today. After realizing there was no chance in hell of making any type of carrier out of surfing, I attended SDSU. After graduating with a degree in Fine Art and Graphic Design, I was hired by Charlie Anderson at Transworld Surf as an Art Director. I loved design and our culture but didn’t have a f-cking clue how to run a computer — or the programs for that matter. Then, during an Indian summer trip to Europe, I met Chad DiNenna from Nixon and we shared many of the same creative visions and branding ideas. Nixon was a baby then and I was so grateful to Chad and Andy for giving me the opportunity to work along side them for four years as Art Director. While the brand quickly grew, I learned and gained confidence in marketing, sales, and product and discovered how important it is for all three to be continuous within each department of a company — along with branding. From Nixon, I created Libre Design — a full service, boutique design agency based out of Encinitas, California. Our focus is developing complete brand strategies beginning with initial concept and ideation, followed with everything a brand needs to succeed. We’ve been really grateful to work with friends and great brands over the years.
SO, NOW YOU’RE MAKING SUNGLASSES. HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT?
I love sunglasses! I always have and R A E N began as a passion project where we could celebrate great product and photography with a group of our friends. With all the creative we do for our other clients through Libre, we wanted to launch something that was authentic and our own. The feedback has been great and we just launched our collection globally in Japan, Australia, Portugal, Spain, South America and Sweden.
R A E N SEEMS VERY ARTISTICALLY DRIVEN. WHAT IS THE IDEA BEHIND THE BRAND?
There is so much product out there that exists for the wrong reasons. Being a successful brand in this marketplace during this generation is more than creating a product to sell and be purchased. R A E N Optics strives to make an emotional connection with our demographic by creating a relationship touching on the ideal, yet realistic, lifestyle of our friends. We are not about excess. We are about giving people a timeless, tangible and quality item to function in their active lifestyle.
THE PHOTOS IN THE ADS ARE VERY SWEET. WHAT IS THE CONCEPT BEHIND THAT?
Photography is a huge part of R A E N. Our Spring 2009 “through the eyes of” campaign features photographers Dustin Humphrey, Pat Graham, Steve Sherman and Jon Johnson. We’re also stoked to announce that our friend Thomas Campbell will be on board with R A E N’s future photography.
WHAT KIND OF DUDES AND DUDETTES WOULD LIKE TO ROCK YOUR SHADES?
The Spring collection is made up of styles that our friends inspired us to produce. We went the extra mile to make the best handmade, quality eyewear, so we love people that desire authenticity to rock our shit.
HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN THE ACTUAL DESIGN OF THE SHADES?
One hundred percent. We design everything from our studio here in Encinitas and have spent many hours in our factories making sure that it’s all on point.
HOW DID YOU LAND ON THE NAME R A E N? ANY HIDDEN MEANING BEHIND IT?
Out of the 500 names we explored, R A E N jumped out of the crowd like a lost friend. It was just a great name that now has it’s own identity and life. We’re just here to look after him.
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP FOR YOU? FOR R A E N? FOR THE WORLD?
Continue to explore new and creative products and branding while organically growing with our friends. As the brand gains a little more permission I’m sure we’ll push the creative envelope as well…
For a look as all of RAEN Optics styles, visit www.RAENOptics.com