Samantha Mancini is the brains behind Flugs, the fabulous new product that will save the flip flop fashionista from heartbreak. We were able to find out more about her innovation in this interview.
Hi Sam, welcome to Beauty and Lace. Thanks for talking to us.
What was your background pre-Flugs?
I am an Engineering Project Manager working in the Broadcast & Telecommunications Industry.
How did you come up with the idea and what made you think there was a market for it?
Over the years, I have owned several pairs of branded flip-flops.
The last pair I purchased cost $39.95. After just a few short weeks, they broke.
As you know, flip-flops always break at the most inopportune times. I used a safety pin as a temporary fix to get me through the day however my temporary solution was both uncomfortable & dangerous.
And so it was in 2012, while deciding whether to buy myself a replacement pair of flip-flops that I thought, surely there is a way to fix my beloved flip-flops rather than replacing them
I did some detective work to see if there was a product in the market that fixed broken flip-flop straps. There wasn’t.
I then embarked on a 10-month roller coaster ride to design & manufacture the first FLUG.
I wanted to create an innovative product that is affordable, easy to install, saves consumer money and rescues them from footwear disaster.
FLUGS is also focused on reducing waste & promoting the message “repair rather than replace”
Can you tell us a little about the process from concept to product?
I thought the product design & manufacturing of FLUGS would be the hardest step, and it was. However, we also came across many hurdles when it came to design/branding, packaging, website development, IP protection – patent / trademark.
Being the first of its kind in Australia, if not the world; we launched ourselves into the unknown. No experience in retail, no competitors to benchmark against or any knowledge if our product would resonate with consumers.
We went through a steep & at times very trying learning curve however we are thrilled with our final product and are excited to see the reaction in the marketplace
A saying that will always make me look back at our adventure & feel a sense of accomplishment…“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it”
How much of the manufacturing process are you involved in and how did you find a manufacturer?
Wesley tooled the original FLUGS prototype in his backyard shed. We took our concept / prototype and met with several local manufacturers. After our initial meetings we knew our design would have to be modified if we wanted to achieve a one “FLUG” fits all product.
We worked with an Industrial Designer to come up with a design that would allow tolerance to accommodate the varying size of flip-flop straps. It wasn’t until we met with a manufacturing company in Ingleburn, Sydney that we were able to finalise the design & start fabrication.
How did you and Wes come to be working together?
Wesley & I worked together in Rigging & Construction for 6 years prior to the launch of FLUGS.
In his spare time, Wesley is an accomplished custom motorbike-building champion. I knew he would be the best person to assist me with my prototype development.
Where did the name come from?
“Flip Flop Plug” = FLUGS
I’m sure there are many people with flip flops floating around that they couldn’t bear to part with so please tell us, where can we get Flugs?
We are currently selling FLUGS via our website www.flugs.com.au
RRP $6.95 (including free postage Australia wide)
Have you any other innovations in the pipeline you can share?
Sustainability is something that is very important to me on a personal level & the direction I would like to take FLUGS.
Our motto “saving the world one flip-flop at a time” was initially focused on “saving” the consumer from footwear failure however I would also like FLUGS to contribute to saving the world… literally, by manufacturing FLUGS & all FLUGS packaging from recycled materials. By being 100% sustainable, I believe we can promote awareness & contribute to the reduction of landfill. I also believe our key message “repair rather than replace” will also highlight issues in relation to overconsumption
Did you know that there are over 20 billion pairs of flip-flops sold annually? You have to ask yourself… where do they all go?
Can you tell us a little about the team up with Kitty Got Claws?
To ensure all Australians can continue to enjoy wearing thongs through the cooler months with bedazzled toe nails, FLUGS have teamed up with KITTY GOT CLAWS nail lacquer – So splash on a shade and colour ME HAPPY!’
What does being a woman mean to you?
I am proud to come from a family of strong independent women.
I have spent the last 10 years working my way up the corporate ladder in a male dominated industry. I believe both have equipped me with the strength; determination to push boundaries & to believe in myself / my dreams, even when others fail to do so.
Thanks for your time Sam, I hope everything goes well with Flugs.