“It’s fun and stressful, and we love it!” chirped Kaity Jones about her business, Third Eye Colorado, a leading supplier of hoops and assorted products. Kaity is also the mother of two children, and runs her business with her husband, Ike Raidl. Together, they run their business from their home in far western Colorado Springs.
After opening and running Third Eye Art Supply in the downtown Manitou Springs area for a couple years, the store is closed and the family now runs their business from home, focused exclusively on online sales. Part of their marketing efforts has them again traveling around the country, visiting and working different festivals, selling hoops and networking. Last summer, the family toured festivals and worked, which gave the family an opportunity to vacation together.
“After the Moods of the Madison in Montana festival, we made a full family vacation out of it. We camped our way around Yellowstone, and in three other states, before returning home to Colorado.” Kaity also mentions she loves being able to spend time with her kids and husband as they work festivals together.
Ike stands in the kitchen as we sample cake his wife made the day before; he nods silently after Kaity speaks. He’s a baby-faced bearded man with a soft and wise voice that belies his face and age. The contrast between the two couldn’t be more stark: Kaity is an outgoing personality, unafraid to state what she wants stated. Ike, on the other hand, offers more philosophical points, usually after reflective pauses.
“It’s true,” she says, “what they say about opposites attracting. We’re like that.”
Ike quietly nods again. And that’s how the interview went in the kitchen of the Jones-Raidls. “I think the business brought us together,” Kaity mumbles as she eats cake and crumbs fall around the kitchen counter. “But the store meant we were apart more often. I always tell people I actually really like Ike so being together is more fun for us. So, I’m happy we have our business running from the house.”
I ask the couple about Manitou Springs and a solemn look crawls over both faces. Ike continues eating as if deferring to Kaity who takes a deep breath before beginning. She starts: “We miss being so closely connected to the other shop owners and Manitoids.” I ask about the current situation with the downtown area and if she has any thoughts about it. “Part of me feels relieved we got out of town before everything fell apart, so to speak. It’s no secret we had major issues with paid parking and the enforcement officers.” Kaity also mentions that she feels her store would not fit in with the new version of Manitou Springs.
We’re briefly interrupted by her Lucy, her daughter, who emerges from the basement of the couple’s single-storied house and warns us she has a small scratch on her ear. Ike looks over the ear and nods: she does, indeed, have a small scratch. Kaity explains the nuances of taking care of the scratch. After a few moments, everyone’s all smiles again and Lucy’s already back into the basement. Ike later shows me the basement, which is essentially a kids playground wonderland with toys, with books and clothes everywhere.
What do they tell people when they ask what they do for a living? Kaity laughs, “I tell people I make hula hoops. I usually pause and enjoy their reaction after that. They are usually partially confused and surprised. Most people don’t know much about hoops beyond the toy they enjoyed as a kid. When I explain hoop dance and flow arts they are usually surprised about the size of the community and that it exists.”
This summer, though, the family won’t be traveling together as much.. “Being a family business, the preparation for the summer festival season is very time consuming,” she says. “We love when we are able to bring the kids. I think part of the reason they enjoy the festivals so much is because we are very picky about which ones we bring them to. We make sure they are smaller, family friendly, with more relaxed music. We want the kids to be able to make friends and venture away from the booth safely. We are taking them to a festival in Iowa this year, but we aren’t planning on vending — just enjoying some family time.”
As an afterthought, I decide to ask if the couple has any sort of WWE-styled smackdowns if and when the couple has a business disagreement. They both laugh at the question. Kaity goes first: “We do argue but sorry no smack downs.” She laughs again before continuing, “Our arguments are usually because Ike has a huge idea and I shoot it down. We always end up meeting in the middle and being happier for it on the other side.”
After a short pause, he smiles at me, and, “I agree. It’s a good system. We’re happy, and that’s all that matters.”
This summer, Kaity and Ike are at The Electric Forest Festival in Michigan, June 29-July 2. Be sure to follow their social media accounts to keep up with their travels, buy hoops, and otherwise stuff your face with delicious cake if you visit their home. And oh, be sure to check out the kids wonderland in the basement: it’s where kids go to be kids. And it’s where the hoops are waiting to be hauled off to the next festival, sold to more kids of all ages.
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Photography courtesy of Third Eye Colorado, written by Paotie Dawson