It’s a reasonably simple story, says a founder of silicone wedding and commitment rings.
KC Holiday and friend Ted Baker founded Santa Ana-based QALO (pronounced kay-lo), a company producing rings designed to be worn by individuals whose lifestyles make it impractical to wear a gold or diamond ring at all times.
QALO — an acronym for quality, athletics, love and outdoors — rings are crafted from silicone, are pliable and have found a niche among exercise enthusiasts, athletes, construction workers, military personnel, police officers and firefighters.
“We thought that a way to get a shortened name but something that has impactful meaning was to create an acronym,” said Holiday, 30, on the inspiration behind the company’s name. “So, we looked at what we believed was the lifestyle that came along with wearing our product.”
The rings, which range from about $20 to $50, have been featured in a variety of publications and outlets including ESPN, Outside and Brides.com.
Holiday, who grew up in south Orange County, and Baker, who is from Washington, D.C., became friends in 2012 while working together at a restaurant in Beverly Hills.
They both were newly married and participated in a variety of sports.
But for every golf round and tennis match, the ring came off and got set aside in a gym bag, Holiday said.
“We’re both like, ‘This doesn’t make a ton of sense,’ ” Holiday said. “There’s got to be a ring we can just wear constantly without having to take it on and off all the time. We wondered if other guys had the same problem.”
The pair began brainstorming and came up with the idea for a silicone ring that can be worn during physical activity without getting damaged or causing an injury.
The partners launched QALO in 2013 from Baker’s living room table.
“We got the first set of rings in and we hand-trimmed all of them and hand-packed all of them and did all the shipping ourselves and did everything ourselves,” Holiday said. “We were just two new entrepreneurs just trying to start a business.”
Through market research, Holiday and Baker decided their target market could be firefighters, military personnel and athletes.
Holiday also had a connection to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who started wearing a QALO ring in place of his wedding ring.
“As soon as I started wearing it, I had a bunch of teammates and people asking me what kind of a ring it was, because it just looks different than the normal kind of wedding ring most people wear,” Dalton said in a review video on YouTube.
Other NFL players who noticed Dalton’s QALO ring took to wearing the rings as well, providing a huge boost to the brand.
“I wear it from the start of football season all the way to the end,” Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said in a QALO promotional video on YouTube.. “When I got my real wedding ring a few years ago, I was worried about losing it because I was going to have to take it off every time I worked out or for every game or every practice.”
NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., NHRA top fuel driver Courtney Force, MMA fighter Chris Weidman and CrossFit champion Jason Khalipa are among the high-profile athletes who also wear QALO rings.
Kent Charnley of Laguna Beach is not a high-profile athlete, but he is an avid surfer.
Charnley said he has lost two QALO rings in the water and the company replaced them both times.
“My wife doesn’t even wear her diamond ring anymore,” Charnley said. “She wears these.”
As the company has grown, it has designed “thin red line” rings for firefighters, “thin blue line” rings for law enforcement and rings representing all five branches of the military.
QALO also makes stackable rings, in which multiple rings are designed to “stack” on the same finger, and crossover rings, meant to symbolize a bond between family members and friends.
The company has also introduced T-shirts and baseball caps to its product line.
Holiday said the company has succeeded in its mission not to sell a product, but to create a brand.
“This is almost like an ideology, a way of doing life, prioritizing family above all else,” Holiday said.