by Noa Glow | July/August 2012
Growing up in California, Ivo Staiano’s memories include sunny days, sandy beaches and plenty of well-worn pairs of flip-flops. So, when he was casting about for a way to be relevant in the fashion world while vibing with passionate artists, supporting people in need and, of course, having some fun along the way, he wasn’t all that shocked when the answer turned up at his feet.
Staiano, a Capilano University grad who now calls Vancouver home, is the founder of FlyingFlips, a crowdsourced, online community that creates artist-designed and user-chosen flip-flops with a “buy one, give one” model.
“For every pair of FlyingFlips sandals we sell, we give a share of profits to the artist and a pair of sandals to a fellow human being in need,” he says. Adds co-founder Paul Mon-Kau, “I think flip-flops are a fantastic medium to work on. It’s great that they are in a shape that you’ve never seen limited-edition art on; I think that’s pretty fresh.”
Here’s how it works: independent artists and designers upload their original flip-flop designs to flyingflips.com, where members of the online community vote on the designs they love most (at press time, the choices ranged from pink flamingos to deep-sea divers to Maui sunsets). The top-voted designs are then printed as limited-edition, eco-friendly flip-flops and sold in the online store. A twin pair of every pair of FlyingFlips sold goes to a person in need through the Give-a-Flying-Flip program.
Caleb Beyers, who designed FlyingFlips’ website, says that for artists who “wouldn’t necessarily be able to find an avenue to get their work produced … it gives them a way to have some of their work realized in physical form.”
“Every week there’s new designs, every week … there’s new opportunity to help others,” adds Mon-Kau. “That’s pretty dope.”