MARIGOT--Friendly Flip Flops, the footwear that keeps a foot on both sides of the island, was officially launched with a press conference and launch party for key promoters and retailers at the Belmond La Samanna Hotel on Wednesday afternoon.
The distinctive flip flops – the left one is designed in the colours of the St. Maarten Flag and the right one in the colours of the French flag – were first introduced at the St. Martin Day ceremonies in French Quarter.
The product looks set to be a sure-fire bestseller in retail outlets on both sides of the island, not only as casual footwear but as a unique souvenir from the island. They will also be promoted at major events such as the Heineken Regatta and Carnival.
Not only is Friendly Flip Flops a commercial venture but the designers and creators of the concept will allocate much of the profits from the sale of the flip flops to associations working on behalf of the island’s youth under the campaign “Walking Forward Together.”
The campaign was launched on St. Martin Day where a cheque for 500 euros was presented to the French Quarter association Centre Symphorien d’ Insertion (CSI).
Ambassador for the “Walking Forward Together” campaign is Tamillia Chance who shot to fame when she became a finalist in the Voice Kids talent contest last year.
Tamillia was present at the launch party and sang the “Walking Forward Together” song that she wrote accompanied by children from the St. Joseph School choir from Philipsburg, as well as Christmas songs.
David Beffort, the creator behind the Friendly Flip Flops concept, noted 10, 000 of the flip flops will be distributed to all the shops, French side and Dutch side, on January 8 and a further 20,000 in February 2017.
“The support for the product has been amazing on both sides of the island,” said Beffort who came to the island in 1993 and fell in love with it. “It’s a symbol of the island that everyone recognises and with a good cause behind it to help the youth.
“Princess Juliana Airport and Grand Case Airport have agreed to create displays of the big flip flops and St. Martin Tourism Office will promote them on their travels to trade shows. In addition the taxi associations are in full support. 700 taxis will have a miniature pair of flip flops to hang from their rear view mirrors. And the taxi association will display and sell the flip flops at their booth on the cruise ship pier in Philipsburg.”
With regard to the fabrication of the flip flops, the soles are currently made in the Dominican Republic and the straps come from China.
“But eventually we want to assemble the flip flops here on the island. We will try to print the sole here and thirdly cut the sole on the island from the mold,” Beffort explained. “That’s our ambition.”
He urged everyone to like the “Walking Forward” Together campaign on Facebook as each like represents a donation.
He disclosed while in New York recently an NBC/CNBC journalist Stacy Tisdale wrote an article on the Friendly Flip Flops for the on-line Huffington Post, a publication that has 125-million readers.
Beffort had invited the St. Joseph School choir to the launch after seeing them perform at the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Street Fair in Philipsburg.
Among those attending the launch were the Préfecture’s Chef de Cabinet Emmanuel Effantin, Territorial Councillors Alain Gros-Desormeaux and Antero Santos Paulino, Thierry Gombs, Chairman of Grand Case Airport Alain Russel, St. Martin Tourism Office Director Kate Richardson, and Chandra Offringa and D’Ange Courtar from the Princess Juliana InternationalAirport Marketing Department.