MORGAN PARK — Nick Norris knows a thing or two about face paint.
Norris, a native of Morgan Park, spent more than a decade wearing the stuff as a Navy SEAL. He deployed to southeast Asia, Iraq and Afghanistan before returning to the states to finish his military career by training others.
His experience in the military led to the development of Predator Warpaint, a waterproof face paint that doubles as a sunscreen and won't sweat away. It debuted on Kickstarter on Jan. 26 and was fully funded two days later.
Norris is looking to partner with the military as well as hunting and outdoor shops. But in the meantime, a fundraiser is planned to buy the face paint for fellow St. Cajetan Elementary School alum Jack Gorman.
Gorman, 18, will deploy April 8 to Iraq. Family and friends have planned a fundraiser from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 9 at McNally's in Morgan Park. For $35, those attending the event at 11136 S. Western Ave. will be treated to an open bar and pizza.
The proceeds will be used to buy Norris' face paint for the roughly 80 members of Gorman's 101st Airborne Division. Gorman, a graduate of St. Rita High School, will be deployed for nine months in his first stint abroad.
"Nick is a real good guy," Gorman said. "I think [Predator Warpaint] is a good idea. It will help everyone out."
Norris, a Mount Carmel High School grad, would often go on three-day reconnaissance missions as a Navy SEAL. He wore military-issued face paint in hiding, which he would often have to reapply as sweat would wash away the greasy camouflage.
"By the time we patrolled in, I looked like a chimney sweep," Norris said.
Back on base, Norris would clean up from such missions and be surprised to find sunburn on his face and lips. The face paint provided by the military offered no sun protection, he said.
Upon returning to civilian life, Norris settled in San Diego with his wife Moira Conlon — his high school sweetheart. The pair both graduated high school in 1999. Conlon attended Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Mount Greenwood.
Irving is an avid surfer and was considering buying a sunscreen company as an investment. After bouncing the idea off Norris, the pair opted to go in a different direction. They launched Predator Warpaint Inc., targeting military users as well as hunters and other outdoorsmen.
"Real estate eventually segued into entrepreneurship," said Norris, adding that the company's debut was three years in the making.
Predator Warpaint is made in the United States, and Norris said the product contains only high-end ingredients, whereas the face paint he was issued while deployed is made overseas with ingredients meant to keep costs down.
Norris doesn't blame the military for using the low-grade face paint. He said most of the research and development dollars are poured into things like airplanes, tanks and Humvees.
"I think they just forgot about the little stuff," he said.
And that little stuff seems to matter, as the first order of 4,500 canisters of Predator Warpaint sold out. Another 20,000 units are on the way, which Norris hopes will allow him to drop the price from $20 per canister to $15 each.
"We can do something better in the camo niche," Norris said.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: