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Innovation & Job News

In brightest day or deepest night, Clevelander's invention keeps outdoor athletes in sight

Safety Skin

For John Kulbis, inventor of Safety Skin reflective skin spread, the light bulb went off in 2010 when he leaned against a wall while painting a home interior. A dash of white paint from the wet surface striped Kulbis's arm, leading to a creation meant to make joggers, cyclists and pedestrians easier to see on the road.
 
Today, Safety Skin is the first product of Road Wise, Kulbis's Cleveland-based startup. The reflective spread is applied directly to the skin before or during activity, with the aim of bouncing headlights back to drivers in a variety of weather or nighttime conditions.
 
"Without light the spread has a subtle gray hint to it," says Kulbis, a Cleveland native and Euclid resident. "When light hits the product, it reflects back to the light source."
 
Safety Skin is made of natural ingredients and can be placed anywhere on the body. Kulbis tells outdoor athletes to run the deodorant-like applicator down their legs or along their arms and sides, especially in warm weather where less reflective garments are used. Kulbis's product stands up to perspiration, but can be removed easily enough using a wet wipe or soap and water.
 
A former competitive cyclist and runner, Kulbis has been perfecting his invention for the last two-and-a-half years. Safety Skin is now available at area athletic apparel and bike shops.
 
"Safety" is in the name for a reason. In 2014 alone, 4,884 pedestrians and 726 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That said, Kulbis wants to keep his product message positive and upbeat.
 
"I'm not selling this on scare tactics or fatalities on the road," he says. "I wanted to create something that people are actually going to love to use."
 
Looking ahead, Kulbis envisions Safety Spread having fashion and art applications. A hot pink or bright orange product could be used to make a mural, or be placed on a model for a colorful photo shoot. 
 
For now, the athletic entrepreneur is increasing brand awareness through expos and other events. Empowering runners, cyclists and late-night walkers to take control of their visibility is all the motivation Kulbis needs.
 
"Right now, it's about getting people to believe in the product," he says. "All the stages of this have been really exciting."
 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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