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Flipanthropic work

By JULIE LARIVEE

December 13, 2007


Renee 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 seven-year friendship.

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 raise money?

"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 to produce.

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 laughs.

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 expectations."

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.