Photo of flip flops.
Switchflops: a high school art project turned into a business venture. CC by The Consumerist/Flickr

Flip flops and fashion are two terms that are rarely associated. But that was before Lindsay Phillips, 25, started her business. Back in high school in Tampa, Fla., Phillips put together a flip flop prototype that featured interchangeable straps for various fashion combinations. In just a few years, Switchflops was in flight as a legitimate fashion retail company. According to AOL Small Business, Switchflops is projected to generate $ 30 million in revenue in 2010.

The idea behind Switchflops is quite simple

Most Americans don’t have the money to fill their closets with an entire shoe store’s worth of casual fashion footwear, which is where Switchflops come in.Lindsay Phillips’ creation gives consumers many different fashion combinations from which to choose, thanks to a wide variety of available straps. The accessory options seem endless. The sandal itself costs $35, and extra straps are $12 each. Each new strap makes for a fashionable, affordable new look. And Switchflops also offers other shoes, such as wedges, and additional accessories. Phillips’ fashion inventions are sold in more than 4,000 stores worldwide.

Flip-flop-filled hallways provided inspiration

The most innovative products come from situations where there is both a need and determination to address that need. Phillips was there to fill a fashion demand with Switchflops. The kids at her high school loved to wear flip-flops to school (“Everyone wore them all the time,” she told AOL), but the casual shoes weren’t always the most fashionable footwear in and of themselves. Changing it up on a daily basis would have required buying multiple pairs, which wasn’t practical for everyone. Switchflops are Phillips’ fashion solution, meeting the fashion and affordability needs head-on. By 2004, Phillips had an official patent on the Switchflops idea. By 2007, with the help of experienced CEO Jeffrey Davidson, Phillips got Switchflops off the ground. An overseas office is currently on the agenda.

Customization options are adored today

People love choice. That’s a modern business truism, says AOL. Phillips has proven ready to capitalize.

“Everyone wants to be a little unique, and while we might have the same bag, we don’t want it to be exactly the same,” she said.


AOL Small Business:

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