Rob & Paul Forkan

Rob & Paul Forkan

Flip-flop Humanitarians

Synopsis

After tragically losing their parents in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Rob and Paul set up a charity to help those worst affected by the disaster. To raise money, they also started Gandys flip-flops which has grown into a successful fashion brand a pioneer for modern social entrepreneurialism and philanthropy.

Biography

Rob and Paul Forkan began a business in the aftermath of personal tragedy. The brothers founded the Gandys Foundation and the Orphans for Orphans Initiative and raised donations by starting a successful flip-flop business.

When Rob and Paul were children, their parents sold everything they owned in order to explore and volunteer around the world. On Boxing Day 2004, when the tsunami hit Sri Lanka, the brothers’ parents were killed. In the wake of the tsunami, friends and family offered support but the brothers were aware of other children affected by the disaster who had no safety net. In response, they founded Orphans for Orphans, supporting underprivileged children. To bolster donations, they established Gandys, producing high-end fashion inspired by world travel. They started out with a hugely successful line of flip-flops before expanding their collection to include clothing and accessories, inspired by travel and outdoor living.

Rob and Paul’s initial goal was raise the funds to open a children’s home in Sri Lanka for the tenth anniversary of the tsunami. Since accomplishing this, they have built more homes across Sri Lanka and India. In business, Gandys now has stores around London and online selling a range of clothing and luggage.

The duo tell their personal as well as business story, from their experiences in Sri Lanka and how they survived, to the initial Gandys idea through to business success. They look at the importance of persistence (and the unconventional ways they gained press coverage and shelf space in high street retailers), and the importance of culture, community and values within an organisation, especially when building a brand. They also look at broader issues around retail, engaging with employees and customers, developing products and brand, and how Rob and Paul personally pay careful attention to every aspect of a design, and the emotional substance they hold.

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