Gandys is a brand on a philanthropic mission.
The London-based flip-flop brand, which was founded by the brothers Rob and Paul Forkan for a spring ’12 launch, is now forging ahead with a large charity project and plans to go global, including new accounts in South Africa.
“Through the sale of our cool and quirky flip-flops, Gandys aims to provide underprivileged children education, nutrition and a place to live,” Paul Forkan said of the charity they founded, Orphans for Orphans.
The brand launched at Topman and Selfridges, and is now eyeing accounts in additional countries. And by the end of 2014, the brothers hope to open an orphanage in India, in memory of their parents, who passed away during the 2004 tsunami.
Here, the duo talks about their challenges and New Year’s resolutions.
1. What challenges have you faced starting a flip-flop brand?
PF: In the U.K., it would have to be the weather. A lot of people don’t believe us when we say we’re a London-based flip-flop brand, but we believe our persistence and determination can push us past the English climate.
RF: Not having a lot of resources was a big challenge, too. At the beginning, it was just the two of us, living in our one-bedroom flat in London, and we didn’t have a lot of money. We used our bath as a backdrop for our first photo shoot and took photos on our iPhones. When you’re up against big brands, it’s quite difficult to be a startup.
2. Why is the charity component such an important part of the business?
PF: The Orphans for Orphans mission is absolutely fundamental to Gandys. It’s the core of our business. We knew we wanted to do something to give back, so we decided to create a sustainable brand that would support our worthy foundation.
3. How would you describe the company culture you are cultivating?
RF: After moving to our new offices in London, we have taken on more staff to [provide] company updates and we have launched Culture Club, a monthly meeting that has a different theme every time. The Gandys gang dresses up in that theme and we eat food from that country, which makes the feedback meeting a lot of fun. Our Culture Club is our New Year’s resolution to help Gandys run smoothly and to make us like one big happy family.