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Teenage footwear entrepreneur Madison Robinson has reeled in her biggest catch yet.
Her line of FishFlops, a collection of flip-flops featuring aquatic motifs, made its debut in 60 Nordstrom doors last week.
Launched last year, the children’s line sports everything from colorful crabs to porpoises and retails for $13 to $17. There are even styles with footbeds incorporating removable sea creatures that can be flipped over to reveal a coordinating design.
According to 14-year-old Robinson, she developed a love of the sea early on. “I grew up around fish,” she said. “I went fishing with my dad and grandpa.”
While the brand has been selling in beach and specialty boutiques around the country, Robinson decided to take the business to the next level, approaching the children’s shoe buyer at Nordstrom via a letter. To her surprise, the store responded with an order for an exclusive collection of lighted designs, priced to sell for $20.
Since the company’s debut, consumers have been asking for larger sizes, said Robinson’s father, Dan Robinson, noting that the brand currently offers children’s and toddler styles. To meet the demand, an adult line is in the works.
Also on the drawing board for spring ’13 are slides retailing for $25 to $30, and sliders, a series of vulcanized slip-on sneakers featuring memory foam sockliners and water-resistant quick-dry uppers, retailing for $30 to $34. And, in a move to turn FishFlops into a lifestyle brand, companion T-shirts will be added to the offering.
Here, Madison Robinson offers her unique perspective on shoemaking.
There are lots of flip flops in the market. What gives yours an edge?
MR: They’re very colorful and [feature] lots of animals that kids are into, like sea creatures. A bunch of my friends have asked for different designs, such as owls and trees and flowers. [In the future], I can see beach accessories like towels, toys, hats, goggles, swimsuits, pretty much everything dealing with the water.
How does the design process work?
MR: The hardest part is having time because I’m really a social person and always out with my friends. I do a lot of [drawings], so there’s a variety to choose from. I draw four or five on each page and then my dad picks the ones he likes the most and we take them to the factory.
Celebrities can help drive a brand. Who would you like to see wearing FishFlops?
MR: If Justin Bieber had a kid, I would want it to be his kid. There have been a couple of celebrities who have contacted my dad asking for them.