Dallas-based flip-flop brand Hari Mari is unveiling an eco-friendly technology as part of its spring ’22 collection. Its new Sonoros style, which launches today for men and women, boasts a vegan leather upper made from cactus fibers.
“The cool thing about this material — as it pertains to flip-flops — is obviously a cactus can withstand heat,” said Hari Mari co-founder Lila Stewart. “It can withstand water and all the things that you’d want in a flip-flop.”
The company said the leather alternative is made from Nopal cactus (best known as prickly pear), and the fibers are harvested only from mature leaves without damaging the plant itself. That means the same plant can be harvested every six to eight months.
The Sonoros also features a recycled rubber outsole and recycled EVA midsole cushioning. The flip-flop currently is offered in two colorways and retails for $75 on Harimari.com.
Stewart said the cactus fiber material was developed by a company in Mexico that Hari Mari met through its factory in Leon. (Hari Mari moved its production to Mexico and Brazil a few years ago, after former President Trump implemented higher tariffs on imports from China.)
The brand aims to utilize the eco-friendly leather alternative for other products as part of its new HM Eco category. “When we started our company 10 years, this kind of stuff didn’t exist,” said Stewart. “So it’s fun to think what could continue to change in this category. And we want to continue to push the envelope and offer products that are sustainable.”
As Stewart noted, this year marks a decade since the launch of Hari Mari, which she founded with her husband Jeremy. The couple set out to create a line of fashionable flip-flops with comfortable constructions, while also giving back through a philanthropic focus on childhood cancer charities.
They’ve made major progress on both fronts.
After seeing steady growth over several years and expanding into closed-toe shoes, Stewart said Hari Mari’s business took off during the pandemic, led at first by major gains in its digital business. But she noted retailers have been flocking to the brand as well, including new partners Urban Outfitters, Evereve and Orvis, as well as numerous independent specialty stores.
The company also made its first foray into brick-and-mortar retail in May 2021, launching its first flagship store in its hometown. The two-level space is located at 3213 Knox St., in the heart of Dallas’ recently revived Knox District. It comprises not only retail space but also a bar that serves complimentary ranch waters, Bloody Marys and a local craft beer, while the second floor will doubles as a space for parties, yoga classes and corporate gifting events.
Stewart said more store openings could be on the horizon, in cities like Charleston or Nashville, but the rollout would be slow. “We don’t have the desire to open hundreds or even dozens of stores, that’s not on our agenda,” she said.
To help manage its rapid growth, Hari Mari hired Jake Szczepanski as president in January 2021. Szczepansk joined the brand after co-founding and serving as CEO of fashion label Billy Reid for 13 years. Szczepanski is tasked with helping to oversee its retail strategy, and scale and manage the company’s internal operations and supply chain. He’s also spearheading the development of Hari Mari’s apparel collection, which launched last year.
Meanwhile, the purpose-driven brand also marked a milestone in its philanthropic work last year. In May 2021, Hari Mari’s longtime charity partner, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, renamed its infusion center after the footwear brand, in recognition of its donations to help supplement medical treatment costs for the hospital’s pediatric oncology and hematology patients.