Matthew “Griff” Griffin’s life changed when he was in a combat boot factory in Afghanistan and saw a flip-flop thong punched by way of the sole of a combat boot.
The Seattle native, 36, and Army Ranger veteran was working as a government contractor at the time, setting up health-related clinics when he toured the facility. He went back to his hotel room that evening, registered the domain name combatflipflops.com and a compact business was born.
“Our concept was to generate flip-flops in a combat boot factory in Afghanistan,” stated Griffin.
“The 1 factor that I saw when I was traveling about to Asia, Africa, all all through the Middle East, Persia, was that little enterprises had been genuinely the sustainable driving factor,” he said.
As an Army Ranger deployed to Afghanistan, Griffin had been embedded with locals and witnessed how hard it was for them to survive, generating them simple targets for terrorists to manipulate.
“I definitely like the symbolism of taking anything that is produced for combat to creating some thing that’s for chilling and relaxing,” Griffin stated.
So the organization made flip-flops with heavy duty combat boot rubber outsoles and casual thong uppers. The story and mission gained attention. The organization was overwhelmed with orders on its first run of sandals.
But starting a compact business in Afghanistan was as difficult as it seems. The initial run of flip-flops was all defective and had to be given away to locals. The materials for the second run have been stuck on the Pakistan border, unable to make it to the factory.
With a patient but eager customer base, they had to get inventive, sending all the supplies to his garage in Seattle where his co-founders, Andy Sewrey,42, and fellow soldier Donald Lee, 39, turned his garage into a factory and produced 4,000 pairs of sandals themselves.
Realizing that the dream of producing flop-flops in Afghanistan could possibly not be possible, the team moved its manufacturing to Colombia, an additional war-torn nation recovering from years of conflict.
However, the business expanded beyond flip-flops and now makes sarongs and shemaghs at a female-owned factory in Kabul, Afghanistan, exactly where element of the proceeds go towards the education of girls in secondary college.