Buro 24/7 Interview: Gandys Flip Flops
A truly heart warming story about a fashion business that helps
When Sir Richard Branson and David Cameron personally endorse your product launch, it's a sure sign the idea is a winner. Gandys is a unique flip-flop brand started by two young brothers from London that have had some serious life experiences – leading them to start something that has real purpose.
The brothers, Rob and Paul Forkan, were tragically orphaned by the Boxing Day Tsunami, which they narrowly survived themselves. Following this they wanted to turn the ultimate negative into a positive and use all of their life experience to help others.
Having travelled for years, both with their family and individually, the pair have always been closely involved with helping children in developing countries.
Paul and Rob Forkan
With their shared business ideas, the brothers felt they could build a brand and so they created Orphans for Orphans. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tsunami, in 2014, the brothers are on target to open their first children's home in India, in their parents' memory – and eventually spread their work even further.
Buro 24/7 Interview | Rob and Paul Forken
Congratulations on launching such a meaningful brand, we love the idea. Can you tell us a little more about how you came up with name?
Rob: I was at Bestival music festival a couple of years ago when after a very long night of celebrations I woke up the next day with what we would call in the UK 'a mouth like 'Ghandi's flip flops', basically a very dry mouth. It got me thinking has anyone actually ever tried creating 'Ghandi's flip flops' and after a long web search with no luck finding anything, I decided to cease my opportunity to use this famous witty phrase to name and create a flip flop brand. Everyone in the UK knows the phrase and it has been a great, amusing selling point for us.
Your slogan is 'guaranteed to give you happy feet'. What makes Gandys so comfortable?
Paul: Quality and design has always been core to our brand. After years of backpacking round the world in our flip-flops - we knew how important a reliable pair are and what is essential for them to 'guarantee' your feet to be happy. Unlike most flip flops, ours are 100% rubber being FSC certified making them sustainable, 100% recyclable and so comfortable that they won't rub or blister your feet. Our flip-flops just mould to your feet over time to make them the perfect fit.
What has been the most exciting / challenging part of the project?
Rob: 100 per cent the most exciting part of our project was International Flip Flop Day, in June this year when we had a huge campaign with Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin brand. It was amazing getting Richard Branson wearing our 'Necker Red' style on his own personal island and Virgin staff around the world wearing them as well. Social media and press went crazy and getting Sir Branson's personal support was the icing on the cake. The most challenging part of our project was getting the design right. We have been through so many different designs of flip-flops, from our old fabric ones, which weren't really that comfortable to today's distinct braided rubber design.
Did you expect recognition for your work on this level?
Paul: We always knew our unique story as the only Briton's to have lost both parents in the 2004 tsunami would draw a certain level of attention to our brand, but we didn't expect it to take off so quickly. In 18 months we have become a globally recognised label and actually won a global fashion award. (The boys won the WGSN Global Fashion Award in October this year)
Rob and Paul at WGSN Awards
Tell us more about the objective of the brand, and the orphanage in India...
Rob: Next year we are set to open in many more UK retailers along with retailers around the globe. We are also looking to partner with many other great brands and companies. We are currently in Sri Lanka visiting projects which will be supported by a business partnership we have just signed with Peter Simons, founder of Monson: Accessorize. Along with these projects it will secure the education of over 1,000 Sri Lankan children for 3 years' Paul says 'We are also set to open our first children's home in Goa, India by the end of 2014 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the tsunami. We wanted the home to be in India as this is where we have the happiest memoires of life with our parents before the tsunami so is close to our hearts but the ultimate goal is homes all over the world. If has always been our intention to lead our business with the aim to 'explore and inspire'
Gandys Flip Flops are available to buy online now, and ship worldwide.