Founders Rob and Paul Forkan tell us about growing the brand and their plans to build a children’s home in memory of their parents.
When Rob and Paul Forkan were 13 and 11 respectively, their parents took them out of school to embark on a worldwide adventure. In 2004, aged 17 and 15, they were on holiday in Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit. They lost both their parents. Once they’d made it back to the UK, the brothers were determined that something positive should come out of the tragedy. They wanted to do something to honour their parents, but they also wanted to help other children who had also been orphaned. And so Gandys was born.
The flip-flops are made from 100% FSCcertified rubber and are fully biodegradable. There’s plain colours and cool prints and colours, and celebrity fans include Jessie J, One Direction and Jessica Alba. 10% of all Gandy’s profits go towards fulfilling the brothers’ dream of building a children’s home in Sri Lanka for fellow orphans.
The idea originated at a festival when, after a weekend of partying, Rob woke up with ‘a mouth like Gandhi’s flip-flop’. A light bulb went on, and an idea was born. Growing up, we travelled all around the world with our family and we were always in our flip-flops, so it seemed like the perfect idea.
WHO HAS BEEN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL ENDORSER OF THE BRAND?
We have been humbled by the support we have received from famous faces, but also from people all over the world. We have been lucky enough to have received a lot of support from David Cameron and Sir Richard Branson. It’s amazing having Richard Branson’s support. He’s always been a huge inspiration because he’s such an incredible entrepreneur. We’ve always admired that Virgin businesses are a force
for good in the world.
TELL US ABOUT INTERNATIONAL FLIP FLOP DAY, 20TH OF JUNE..
This year it was a major event for us because it is the 10th anniversary of the tsunami. By coming together and wearing flip-flops we’re raising money for and awareness of our Orphans For Orphans mission to build a children’s home for orphans who are less fortunate than us.
WE HEAR YOU HAVE AN EXCITING MARKETING CAMPAIGN COMING UP WITH THEO PAPHITIS FROM DRAGONS DEN…
We’re running a design competition across secondary schools in the UK and the winning design
will be featured in our next collection. It has been a great project that we have enjoyed eing a part of.
It’s been really rewarding to see the children present with so much confidence, enthusiasm, creativity
and entrepreneurial spirit.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COLLABORATE WITH LIBERTY OF LONDON?
Liberty is an icon of British retail. It’s the destination of choice for the savvy and sophisticated shopper and is famous for its classic prints. So to have the opportunity to combine the rich design heritage of
Liberty with our youthful Gandys spirit was definitely a collaboration we were not going to miss out on.
We also have some new collaborations coming up in the future.
YOU PLAN TO OPEN YOUR FIRST ORPHANAGE THIS YEAR. HOW’S IT COMING ALONG?
International Flip Flop Day played a huge part in this and going international with our support meant people from all over the world could join us on our journey to achieving our goal. We are well on our
way to opening our first children’s home in December.
HOW IS IT WORKING WITH A SIBLING? IS THERE ANY RIVALRY?
Lots! The office ping-pong tournament never goes down without a fight or a shouting match.
Of all the places you’ve visited, which has been the most interesting and inspirational? There have
been many inspirational visits on our travels, but Sri Lanka probably tops the list. We’ve recently returned there because we are funding a children’s home there and it is very close to our hearts.
Price: Gandys flip-flops cost from £15 to £30 for adults and £14 for children
MORE INFO: SHOP.FAMILYTRAVELLER.COM