Brothers orphaned by tsunami set up flip-flop business to help children
ERJ staff report (TP)
London − Rob and Paul Forkan lost their parents in the 2004 tsunami, but with a combination of courage and determination have created a successful company selling rubber flip-flops.
It was on a family holiday in Sri Lanka when the tsunami wave hit their hotel on Boxing Day 2004. The brothers (then aged 17 and 15) saved themselves by holding on to a high metal bar, but their parents died after saving their younger children’s (Rosie and Matty) lives.
Rob and Paul returned to the UK, finished their education, and went travelling again. But unsurprisingly they had great ambitions. "We wanted to build a brand based on our own beliefs from our upbringing and alternative lifestyle," said Rob.
They founded Gandys in South London 18 months ago and this year the company expects to turn over £1.2m (€1.4m). Because they lost so much in Sri Lanka, they also devote 10% of their shoe profits to helping orphans; and hope to build an orphanage in Goa next year to mark the 10th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami.
The simple form of footwear was inspired by their travels around the world in rubber flip-flops, and the Forkans have now created a brand stocked in 400 stores − and won the backing of high-profile fans including Richard Branson.
In October they received an award for accessories and footwear design at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards in London. Rob explained the formula to their success.
"We are quite relentless in our approach. We have seen how quickly circumstances can change in life and don't for a moment take for granted or go to sleep with what we are doing," he said.
Their sales have increased from 70,000 in 2011 to 250,000 this year and are forecast to reach 400,000 to 500,000 next year.
Rob added: “Sales have paid for medical supplies and the recruitment of a teacher in Goa where the Forkans once lived. The aim is to raise enough for the planned Goa orphanage. Beyond that, projects will be voted for by customers and staff.”
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Full story from The Guardian
Gandys official site