It was a busy morning like any other. Laura and her mother, Cindy, were up reviewing their daily to-dos, while the TODAY show played in the background. Suddenly they heard a familiar voice speak a familiar name. The morning their fashionable tote The Flip Flop Bitch was featured as one of Kathie Lee Gifford’s “Favorite Things” is a moment this mother-daughter entrepreneur team will never forget. Utterly shocked and exhilarated they recall gallivanting around, as they finally felt their hard work pay off.
While being in business with your mother/daughter may seem problematic to some, for Cindy and Laura, it has brought about nothing more than a strong, loyal business dynamic. With Cindy’s creative vision and Laura’s savvy finance skills, the team took a fearless leap into the unknown territory of the fashion industry. “Rather than fearing what would happen if we took the chance, I feared what would happen if we didn’t,” states Cindy.
Utilizing the strengths of each family member, including younger sister, Natalie, is key to their success. They strive to incorporate business and pleasure, through a positive and fun work environment. Laura explains that every day since their launch has been an adventure. While they continue to grow and develop their company, they hold tight to their ultimate mission of empowering women to be strong and fabulous. They are proof that thousands of happy-thoughts and hours of work can be incredibly rewarding.
Tell us what you do.
The Flip Flop Bitch™ is a brand created by a mother/daughter entrepreneur team that specializes in designing beautiful, lightweight, fold-up tote bags for all occasions. These totes come folded up in a matching drawstring wristlet, are all handmade in the USA & made of exclusively vegan materials.
The company got its name because the founder/mother, Cindy, always carries her flip-flops with her whenever she knows she will be out in heels. Her friends would be hobbling home with achy feet and blisters & she would be walking home happily. So they eventually started to call her The Flip Flop Bitch!
We aim to help women look their very best & still be able to carry everything they need for their busy lifestyles!
In your own words, what does it mean to be Passionista?
To us, it means living our lives and running our own business with a tremendous love for what we do…and looking good doing it. ;) You can’t create a business and work tirelessly at it unless you love it because it becomes part of your identity. Everywhere we go people identify us as, “Hey, it’s The Flip Flop Bitch girls!”
What has been your key to success throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
One consistent theme we have noticed is that this journey is definitely a rollercoaster. You can feel on top of the world one day, and the next day you feel hopeless. We have found that having a reliable business partner to lean on has made this journey not only more enjoyable but hopeful, in knowing there is another individual there to pull you out of moments of despair. You have to keep going. As long as people are still buying what you are selling and you know in your heart that you have a good product or service, the money will come.
What are some ways we can inspire other women and young girls to start their own businesses and build them to last?
Business is about doing; that is one thing we have learned. It’s important to plan and think things through, but you won’t sell anything unless you go out there and start DOING. It’s easier than EVER to get a business started online, even if that’s just starting part-time in addition to a day job. Websites like Shopify, Facebook and Word Press applications make it so easy. If it’s a handmade item, Etsy is SUPER easy and inexpensive to get started. Social media makes reaching a large audience cheaper than ever before. It requires dedication and a lot of creativity, but it’s very doable.
Why do you think now is the time to be a female entrepreneur? Do you believe that times are changing for the better? Is it difficult being a female entrepreneur or do you think gender in business doesn’t really matter?
Being a woman can still be challenging in certain fields, depending on who the customer is. Being in fashion, we find it easier to relate to our customers because we sell primarily TO women. However, as we are expanding more into wholesale, our “customer” is changing. We are no longer just selling to the end user; we are selling to executives, who are selling to the end user. Some of these decision makers are men, and they don’t always understand why our product is necessary. We have found that it makes sense to visually demonstrate to men how the product is used and why it’s better. Also, men are typically more “numbers & results oriented”. So if they can see the end user interacting with the product and showing demand for the product, that will sell them. As women, we have to switch tactics & mindsets when selling to each gender. It can be challenging at times but it’s a learned skill set.
What does success mean to you? What does it mean to “be successful”? Can it ever be fully achieved or is it something that comes and goes?
Success means something different to everyone. To us, it’s twofold. Firstly, we want to ENJOY what we are doing & feel that we are making a difference in the world because that’s what life is about. However, financial success matters too. Financial success, to us, means that we are making a profit and growing every year. There are varying stages of financial success for a business & it really depends on what goal you set for yourself. We believe in dreaming big, shooting for the moon, and if you miss you’ll still land among the stars.
What is one (or more) piece of advice you can offer our readers and other entrepreneurs that are reading your interview? What is the most important to keep in mind?
We started this business with ZERO experience in fashion, manufacturing or online retailing. The MOST important piece of advice we can give you is to surround yourself with quality people. Be wary of people trying to take advantage of you financially, they are everywhere. And, it’s not just people who want to steal your money, be wary of people who want to steal your time too!
Find people who are reliable, intelligent… people who take action & do what they say they are going to do! You may be a one-woman show, but you will still need to deal with outside vendors, trademark attorneys, landlords, manufacturers, web & IT people. You will sell at trade shows and network with people from all walks of life. Make sure that you do your homework before committing to anything and that you know what your downside is. Always analyze the worst-case scenario & make sure you can live with it.
Best of luck to all you amazing ladies out there!!
Cindy & Laura Massari