Swords into Plowshares – One Ex Army Ranger Doing Just That…

“What the hell are Combat Flip Flops “, I asked myself as I perused the NW Overland Rally event calendar.  Of course I had to go…..

IMG_1392I’ve met a lot of people in my travels over the last three years – many nice, a few not so – many interesting, a few not much – and then there are the ones who are well and truly compelling.  Enter Matthew Griffin or “Griff” for short.

Griff is an ex Army Ranger Captain with three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq under his belt and, like all vets, observed the vagaries of war.  Case in point – the Afghani boot factory that employed 300 workers being shut down with the wrap up of the war.  Peace bringing poverty, peace bringing another level of despair and uncertainty for the local population now that the lucrative war machine was leaving.


During a tour of the factory he noticed a lone flip flop on a shelf.  It dawned on him that here were a few hundred skilled workers who needed employment and here was a simple product that is used the world over.  Why not make them out of the same materials the boots are made of? Why not make them as sturdy and long lasting as combat boots?  Stylish though….  Why not put this factory and these workers back in business and support their local economy with something sustainable long term that doesn’t involve killing to do it?  Combat Flip Flops was born. http://www.combatflipflops.com/

IMG_1394Based in Issaquah, WA (USA) with a simple mission: – “Combat Flip Flops creates peaceful, forward-thinking opportunities for self-determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict.  Our willingness to take bold risks, community connection, and distinct designs communicate, “Business, Not Bullets”–flipping the view on how wars are won. Through persistence, respect, and creativity, we empower the mindful consumer to manufacture peace through trade.”

IMG_1399They have recently expanded on this mission to include jewelry crafted in Laos from unexploded ordnance (UXO) and war scrap left over from Vietnam.  The Peacemaker collection incentivizes the clearing of mine fields and adds another channel to helping small business in the region.  One less mine – one less limb blown off…..  More importantly – it creates a successful  business model for other post-conflict areas in the world.  Jewelry with a real and compelling Purpose…..







Claymore bagPost conflict challenges are happening right here at home as well.  Many US textile companies are floundering with the reduction of US involvement in world conflicts.  Combat Flip Flops recognized this and is doing their bit supporting US manufacturing with the Claymore messenger based on the army ordnance bag design.

You can check out their other great gear and get inspired at: http://www.combatflipflops.com/Gear-and-Accessories  and if you are inspired, please share this with as many folks as possible to keep the momentum going!

Griff asked me if I knew what “Swords into Plowshares” meant.  I do now. This vet owned business is working hard to make a real and tangible difference in post conflict regions around the world.   Think about it – you aren’t just supporting them – you are supporting those left with the challenge of rebuilding – so you are making a real and tangible difference too.

So make that difference by learning more about Combat Flip Flops and their mission at :  http://www.combatflipflops.com/


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