In 2002, Kim Gustafson left an international career in office equipment sales and marketing to become a ski instructor in Vail, Colorado. But at age 54, his knees (which had undergone two reconstructive surgeries) weren’t so young anymore. His new gig required him to wear a cumbersome knee brace while on the ski slopes.
As explained in this article from Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine, the brace got him thinking about whether there might be a more comfortable way to support his knee. In 2004, he visited the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, where a couple of researchers happened to be looking at the idea of a fabric-based knee brace.
Gustafson teamed up with the researchers to create the Opedix Knee-Tec tight, which provides breathable, moisture-wicking support for the knee area. At first, the tights’ primary users were ski instructors and other professional ski personnel. All that changed after this piece ran in The New York Times last December.
“Sales went through the roof,” said Gustafson, who’s now 65. Opedix, the company he founded, sells the knee brace online for $225. He now has a second product: orthopedic Core-Tec shorts that realign the pelvis and reduce back pain.
And Kim Gustafson? He seems to be enjoying his multi-faceted life as a product inventor, entrepreneur and ski instructor.
“It’s so much more rewarding and fun than being in office equipment,” he said.