December 5, 2018

Combat Flip Flops

Issaquah, Washington

Combat Flip Flops

With a "Business, Not Bullets" attitude, Combat Flip Flops contracts with small local manufacturers to produce flip flops at combat boot factories, scarves and sarongs at textile mills, and jewelry from unexploded land mines. From the start, they've returned a portion of their revenues back to these war-affected areas to help educate women.
Combat Flip Flops is an online retailer of consumer apparel like scarves, sarongs, jewelry, shoes, t-shirts and yes, flip flops. Based in Issaquah, the company was founded by Matthew Griffin, Donald Lee, and Andrew Sewrey. Griff and Donald are two service-disabled veterans who served multiple tours in Afghanistan as Army Rangers. The idea for the company was born from their experience meeting local business owners abroad who were supporting multiple families by producing goods for the war effort. Griff and Donald got to thinking: how could they help communities in similar areas become more sustainable and resilient? And so they brought on Andy and founded Combat Flips Flops with a goal to create peaceful, forward-thinking opportunities for self-determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict.
 
Their willingness to take bold risks, community connection, and distinct designs communicate, "Business, Not Bullets" - flipping the view on how wars are won. Through persistence, respect, and creativity, they empower the mindful consumer to manufacture peace through trade. With that "Business, Not Bullets" attitude, they contracted with small local manufacturers in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Laos to produce flip flops at combat boot factories, scarves and sarongs at textile mills, and jewelry from unexploded land mines. From the start, they've returned a portion of their revenues back to these war-affected areas to help educate young women.
 
Combat Flips Flops was a 2015 finalist in Kitsap Bank's edg3 FUND small business competition; and in 2016, Griff and Donald were invited to ABC's Shark Tank, where they secured an investment from three Sharks. Since that appearance, their sales skyrocketed - and they soon found themselves unable to meet the demand. Customer conversion was suffering due to a lack in inventory. Combat Flip Flops needed additional cash to stock up on inventory during their busy times of the year, but they weren't quite ready for traditional bank financing. After hearing their story, though, Rich at Kitsap Bank recognized the potential and strong mission fit with Craft3 - and contacted Saif Hakim to see if he could help. Saif and the underwriting team at Craft3 were able to structure a loan package that helped Combat Flip Flops improve its balance sheet while reducing overall financing expenses, and also provided them with a path for growth that may not have otherwise been available.
 
Their ability to secure inventory will help ensure Griff, Donald, and Andy's continued success by immediately filling orders and not losing sales due to empty shelves. Their projected growth will provide local manufacturers in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Laos with sustainable income that supports local communities and families. And their philanthropic efforts with their partners, Aid Afghanistan for Education, Mines Advisory Group, and The STATION Foundation will continue to give people in war-affected areas hope and resources for better lives.