Foutz (left) and Sandra Uihlein will donate the proceeds of
their newly formed business, Flipanthropy, to charities.
Renee Foutz and Sandra Uihlein hope to
be "small stones that create big ripples."
The two, who met when Uihlein’s
husband, Mike, and Foutz started their residency in emergency
medicine, have shared countless phone conversations throughout their
One day earlier this year, Uihlein, a
graphic designer, and Foutz, an ER physician, were talking about John
Wood, a former Microsoft executive who’d left his career to form
Room to Read, a nonprofit that provides educational materials to
developing countries. During the conversation, they found that they
both had a desire to do something for the underprivileged of the
world. But what?
The Grafton residents challenged
themselves to figure out who they wanted to help and how they would
raise the funds. They decided that Room to Read and Women for Women
International, which supports women in war-torn regions of Africa and
the Middle East, would benefit from their 2007 efforts. Now, how to
"It was sort of a joke when we
said, ‘What about flip-flops?’" Uihlein says. It turns out
that the casual footwear, while extremely popular, is also affordable
Because of their product and their
goal, the name of their new business became Flipanthropy.
Foutz and Uihlein chose to personally
donate the startup costs so that every dollar of profit from their
sales could benefit the two designated charities.
"We figured the worst that could
happen is that we’d end up with a lot of flip-flops," Foutz
While most sales occur via their online
store (www.flipanthropy.com), there are a few stores that carry the
footwear in places as far away as Seattle, Wash. Currently, flip-flops
are offered in two color combinations — light blue with gray and
light pink with brown. Each pair is tagged with their stylized flower
logo and the name of the company. Soon, inventory will be expanded to
include a kids’ line of footwear, as well as socks.
"Our goal is to add a new design
or product every year," Foutz says.
Though Flipanthropy launched in April,
the co-founders are waiting until the end of the calendar year to send
checks to their beneficiaries. Revenue thus far has "surpassed
In addition to fulfilling their own
dreams, Foutz and Uihlein hope that Flipanthropy might inspire others.
"Philanthropy needs to be a part
of people’s lives," Uihlein says.
"We hope that people might have an
idea of their own and decide to go with it," Foutz says.