Flip flops. They’re great for the beach or for an outdoor BBQ, but could a simple pair of flip flops change the world?
For Matt Griffin the answer is ‘yes.’
He’s the CEO of Combat Flip Flops, a company focused on helping others and changing the world. They make shoes and other accessories in warzones, and some of their profit goes to helping women in Afghanistan go to school, clearing landmines, and benefiting veterans.
So how does Matt do it? It’s called conscious capitalism. Conscious capitalism is a social business movement where organizations make a product, but focus on social and/or environmental benefits to help improve communities at the same time. It’s growing in popularity with younger generations who he said aren’t happy with how businesses work, and believe they can come out with, as Matt put it, “equal or greater products that have a better social impact.”
Combat Flip Flops is one of many companies that utilize conscious capitalism to help make the world a better place while making their products. In fact, Matt reached out to the founder of TOMS shoes, a pioneering conscious capitalism business that donates shoes for every pair purchased, when he first started out to get advice and mentorship. As soon as he explained what he wanted to do, the makers of TOMS gave them a high five and broke down their business model to help.
“If you get into the conscious capitalism community and you reach out, and you have good, sincere, honest intentions for helping people, there is an open book,” Matt said. “You are going to get experience and mentorship that never would have been offered to you from the people who are doing it right now.”
But unfortunately, the path to conscious capitalism isn’t an easy one. Matt believes that investment is the largest hurdle conscious capitalism business owners face. His business opened the same year that marijuana was legalized in Washington state and many investors want to be involved in large profit-making organizations. As a result, he was passed over many times in favor of marijuana businesses who would make a big profit fast.
While it was difficult for him, Matt said there are investors out there who want to help.
“Find people who are empathetic, compassionate with your cause, and whose priorities are in helping the world,” he said, adding that those are the types of investors who will catch your vision and be willing to help you meet your goals.
He further explained that, for many investors and companies, it will take patience to see the good an organization is doing. It takes time for money to be made, for the word to get out, and for the positive effects to be seen. But he maintained that the results are well worth the wait because of the many good things that can happen because of a conscious capitalism business.
Combat Flip Flops is just one great example of the results being worth the time and energy spent. For every pair of shoes sold, Combat Flip Flops is able to send a girl to school in Afghanistan for a whole day. One pair of shoe at a time, one person at a time, Matt is changing lives.
And while there are a lot of people who are skeptical about conscious capitalism, he said there are also posers or fakers who provide validation for those skeptics. But he is undeterred.
“There’s going to be skeptics in everything you do,” he said with a smile. “Just keep at it.”