“Act on your creativity!” That’s the WYSKy four word mantra that Madison “Maddie” Robinson uses in her Twitter profile. Practicing what she preaches has certainly paid off for the 15 year old creator of FishFlops, a line of colorful, light-up, aquatic themed flip flops for kids that have made this young Woman You Should Know a teenage footwear titan in under 2 years.
Maddie, who is from the beach town of Galveston Island, Texas, explains on her brand’s site, “I’ve always been a flip flop kind of kid. In 2006, I had the idea to create a brand of flip flops that would combine my love for swimming, fishing, and drawing. I called them FishFlops.” She adds, “I shared my idea with many of my friends and family and they all smiled and thought I had something special.”
Let us save you the trouble of doing the math… that means Maddie came up with her million dollar idea at the UNripe age of 8!
A clearly imaginative and enterprising child, her business venture started by – surprise, surprise – Maddie acting on her own creativity… drawing a cast of colorful sea creatures that would later become the featured characters on her FishFlops. It took a few years, but the young entrepreneur, having help from her dad and some financing from friends and family, was able to turn her drawings into actual manufactured samples, complete with the embedded LEDs that make her FishFlops light-up with every step a child takes.
From that point forward, Maddie and her FishFlops started to catch the attention of boutique buyers on the trade show circuit and orders started rolling in. The company officially started shipping product in May 2011 and orders have not stopped since.
In 2012, boasting a growing list of smaller FishFlop retailers, Maddie decided to go after one of the BIGGEST fish in the retail ocean… Nordstrom. But the savvy teen didn’t send them a Tweet or an Instagram pic. She wrote the buying team a letter – an old school letter – and they bit… hook, line and sinker. Maddie then worked directly with Nordstrom on design and color choices, and her FishFlops were ordered in both kids and toddler sizes for 60 of the retailer’s department stores and their website.
Now one year later, another whale of a retailer wants a piece of the FishFlops business, but a more grown-up version. As recently reported by Miami Newsday, Maddie just scored a deal with Macy’s to create a line of FishFlops for adult women.
FishFlops, which retail for about $20, will also be available on FlipFlopShops.com very soon.
Here’s an astounding “almost never happens in retail” fact… EVERY store buyer Maddie has ever approached has placed an order for FishFlops! Must be her adorable sales pitch, “FishFlops are fun and will put a smile on your face. I hope you wear them, share them, and make a friend smile!” Who could resist?
As a result of her saleswomanship and the quality of her product, Maddie has sold (wholesale) over 60,000 pairs, to date, which amount to retail sales of somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 million… more than enough to cover her college tuition and then some.
While she has clearly conquered the warm weather footwear market, young Maddie is already thinking of how to grow FishFlops into a true lifestyle brand. Last summer she told WWD, “I can see beach accessories like towels, toys, hats, goggles, swimsuits, pretty much everything dealing with the water.” In fact, her site is already showcasing companion t-shirts and caps featuring Maddie’s signature aquatic characters.
In addition to her BIG business smarts, young Maddie has also proven that she has a HUGE heart. According to Yahoo News, Maddie has offered free FishFlops and volunteer work for a charity that supports the children of fallen military heroes; she got celebrities at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards to sign 300 pairs of FishFlops for Texas Children’s Hospital patients; she donated 10,000 pairs of FishFlops to a community shoe drive.
There is an endless sea of possibility to what this young Woman You Should Know can accomplish. Brava Maddie for being such an inspiration!