Back in 2009, George Peterson was making his way back from a road trip — a long road trip.
Peterson, who grew up in Port Angeles and Sequim, was on a flight from Bangkok to Tokyo where he would pick up a last flight home to Seattle.
It was then he realized he’d “blown out” his feet.
Peterson had been backpacking through Asia, all the while wearing flip-flops. He knew it probably wasn’t the best idea, but “I was young and I thought I was invincible.”
His feet begged to differ. “My arches dropped and my feet began to swell up. And then on the plane ride back home they really swelled up.”
Back in the U.S., he dropped by his podiatrist who confirmed he had a hairline fracture in one of his feet.
No more flip-flops for Peterson.
That was a problem, he said, because “I wear flip-flops 24/7.”
He assumed there must be a way to find flip-flops that provide the needed support — “proper” flip flops.
“I looked at the (companies) who provided orthopedic flip-flops. There weren’t that many and I didn’t like the design. And they were all outsourced and they cost more than any flip-flop should.”
That’s when the light bulb went on — was it possible to create a flip-flop that was first and foremost good for feet, but also durable, stylish, affordable, recyclable and made in the USA?
Peterson thought about it for a while and in 2011 came to a realization: “This could be valuable.”
He put together a business plan, found an American manufacturer and in mid-May of 2012 launched his
He raised a little more than $15,000 via a micro-investment website and had some shoes made.
They’re now available at the Family Shoe Store in Port Angeles, which has a peninsula exclusive sales right.
They’re also available through the company’s website, www.properflops.com.
Peterson acknowledged there are cheaper alternatives. “The $3 flip-flops at Walmart — they’re foam and cut in China. They often don’t last a season,” he said.
ProperFlops, on the other hand, are “made in the U.S. They’re built to last. They’re super durable — and they come with a 2-year warranty,” he said.
ProperFlops retail for about $30 except when they’re on sale. This Friday (Nov. 23) customers can buy one pair and get another pair free.
Just go to www.properflops.com and use the promo code BOGO.
Peterson is stoked about his flip-flops, saying they are anti-slip, anti-microbial and are manufactured with 25 percent recycled material. They’re 100 percent recyclable.
“Even the hangers are made in the U.S. with recycled kraft cardboard,” he said.
That dedication to the planet, and to all good causes, is part of the plan, Peterson said. “We’re socially, environmentally and economically mindful,” he said.
That includes ensuring the shipments are carbon-neutral, but it means much more.
Peterson said the company will set aside a significant portion of its profits to donate to nonprofits to aid in their good work.
Peterson is hoping to expand the company — both the flip-flop line and perhaps an entry into casual shoes. He admits that won’t be easy because so much of the shoe-making industry has moved overseas.
But if he succeeds, “maybe Nike, Adidas and others can bring their stuff back to the U.S.”
Toward that end, he’s looking for investors in his new company.
In the meantime, though, everyone in his hometown can lend a hand: just become a fan of ProperFlops on Facebook.
And get yourself some flip-flops. Some proper ones.