Flipping the Script on Flip Flops with Jeremy Stewart

jeremy stewart on brand

“Your feet take you on these adventures. You should have quality flip flops that you keep for a long time. That really became our core story.” That spark of an idea led Jeremy Stewart and his wife to found premium flip-flop brand Hari-Mari. In doing so, they essentially created a new market that involved changing behavior around what we put on our feet in warm weather. He took some time to share the story of founding the company and building the brand this week on the On Brand podcast.

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About Jeremy Stewart

Jeremy is the founder of Hari Mari flip flops – a Dallas-based sandal brand he launched in 2012 with his wife, Lila. The idea for Hari Mari was born out of the couple’s time spent living in Indonesia, where they were consistently disappointed with their flip flops – marked by painful break-in periods and the same iterations of black and brown color options. Moving back to the States, they doubled down on their unhealthy obsession with fixing these issues, Hari Mari, and combining color & comfort in a premium flip flop! The Stewarts married this new footwear venture with their passion for helping kids, donating a portion of Hari Mari’s sales to support children battling cancer. They call it Flops Fighting Cancer. Hari Mari has since grown its footprint to include some 1500 retail stores covering 50 U.S. States, Mexico, Japan, Canada, and the Bahamas, in addition to the brand’s own site, HariMari.com.

Episode Highlights

Start with scrappy market research. As you know, I’m a fan of scrappy marketing. However, until talking with Jeremy, I’d never heard of scrappy market research. When he was struck by the idea of creating premium flip flops, he invited interested parties to a focus group moderated by his friend in exchange for some free pizza. The result? Great intel and a solid start.

“Flipping the script.” With Hari Mari, everything is different. Compared to the rest of the category, the product is different. “We started with the pain point — the toe post.” That’s the annoying piece of plastic that turns most people off of flip flips entirely. Jeremy knew they had to do something different, so they brought in the designer from sandal brand Teva to develop something completely different and exceptionally comfortable.

Fixing the problem. “We had to talk about the problem first,” says Jeremy. But once you address this challenge you have a standout product. “People are willing to pay more for quality and for something that doesn’t end up in a landfill.”

What brand has made Jeremy smile recently? Jeremy shared a few other entrepreneurial Texas fashion brands that make him smile including Criquet Shirts and Howler Brothers both located in Austin.

To learn more, go to HariMari.com.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

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