Category Archives: Business

Congrats to Combat Flip Flops on ‘Shark Tank’: Interview With CEO Matthew Griffin

Former Rangers Donald Lee, left, and Matthew Griffin pitch their company Combat Flip Flops on "Shark Tank." (Photo: ABC/Tyler Golden)

Former Rangers Donald Lee, left, and Matthew Griffin pitch their company Combat Flip Flops on “Shark Tank.” (Photo: ABC/Tyler Golden)

Fans of “Shark Tank” got to see an impressive three shark win this Friday night for the founders of Combat Flip Flops, Matthew ‘Griff’ Griffin, CEO, and fellow Ranger Donald Lee. Combat Flip Flops are uniquely made with combat boot rubber and have a special charitable connection to Afghanistan and other war-torn regions. At the end of the day, Combat Flip Flops proved to be a superior product that got the financial backing of three wealthy investors on the popular show on ABC.

Matthew "Griff" Griffin models The Cashmagh

Matthew “Griff” Griffin models The Cashmagh

I had the honor of interviewing Matthew Griffin, back in March of last year, prior to the Shark Tank notoriety. Listen to my interview by clicking the link below:

As with any impressive appearance on Shark Tank, all eyes are on where to learn more. Go visit our friends at Combat Flip Flops right here.

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Filed under Business, Combat Flip Flops, Entrepreneurship, flip flops, Mark Cuban, pop culture, Shark Tank, Television

Interview: Matthew “Griff” Griffin, Combat Flip Flops, and the Process of Rebuilding

An Afghan Special Forces policeman walks through a poppy field as he searches for Taliban fighters in the village of Sanjaray in Zhari district early April 26, 2008. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

An Afghan Special Forces policeman walks through a poppy field as he searches for Taliban fighters in the village of Sanjaray in Zhari district early April 26, 2008. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

It all began with the idea of combining the combat boot with the flip flop, a sort of yin and yang. More precisely, it was about finding peaceful alternatives to war.

One thing that I look forward to once the weather warms up is getting back into flip flops. They can be a haven from the world. But the flip flops that I’m wearing right now face the world head-on. These are Combat Flip Flops. They are more true to their name than you might imagine. And they represent an inspiring story about rebuilding where only chaos and destruction once existed.

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Yep, the above flip flops would do anyone proud in terms of style and comfort. But there’s a lot more going on here. Every item created at Combat Flip Flops was made by people from a region that has known extreme conflict.

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These fashion-forward sandals shown above are made in Bogota, Columbia. This is one of the newest items available from this most enterprising company.

Combat-Flip-FlopsThe story of Combat Flip Flops began in Afghanistan when Army Rangers Matthew “Griff” Griffin and Donald Lee had an epiphany. After serving multiple deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, they knew they could do more to help people in war-torn countries. Initially, the focus was to transform a boot factory in Afghanistan into a viable flip flop business. But, that specific plan did not work out the first time out and meant reworking one’s way back with a different product that fit that region’s particular economic base. It just meant that one initial setback led down another path. And this process has led to a venture with a wider, and ever-growing, scope.

Matthew "Griff" Griffin models The Cashmagh

Matthew “Griff” Griffin models The Cashmagh

Support Business, Not Bullets

I got a chance to talk with co-founder Matthew Griffin, who goes by Griff, and he proved to be very confident and enthusiastic about the future of Combat Flip Flops. At one point in our conversation, I noted the arrival of spring and how everyone is ready to venture out in flip flops. Griff’s thoughts went back to the arena of combat. It’s spring that marks the beginning of renewed conflict. And, with that in mind, Combat Flip Flops has been doubling its charitable efforts to war-torn regions all through the month of March. And you could say it has been doubling its efforts in more ways than one. What you find here is a direct link back to helping those in great need. You can listen to my interview with Griff by clicking the link below:

Do visit the Combat Flip Flops site and view the assortment of products offered like The Cashmagh:

The Cashmagh
They say you can leave Afghanistan, but it it never leaves you. Over multiple combat deployments, the shemagh became a necessary tool for shade, warmth, cover, and style. It never left the toolbox. Typically made from cotton or polyester, the standard shemagh didn’t meet our standards for a world class product. So we made one. This 100% Afghan Cashmere Shemagh was born in the mountains of Afghanistan. Produced from the finest cashmere in the world, this endlessly functional accessory shows your global perspective, open mind, and willingness to do what others won’t—support business, not bullets. Lightweight, supple, and functional, this performance cashmere shemagh is fitting from the battlefield to the boardroom. We prefer the latter.

Visit our friends at Combat Flip Flops right here.

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Filed under Business, Combat Flip Flops, Entrepreneurship, Fashion, flip flops, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Middle East, Peace, War

WONDERCON INTERVIEW: Greg Koudoulian and Collecting Comics

Greg-Koudoulian-Collecting-Comics-WonderCon-2013

If you are heading out to WonderCon, you will definitely want to set aside time for a very special panel discussion on the wonderful world of collecting comics. This panel is moderated by an important player in the world of comics and Comic-Con, Greg Koudoulian. Greg goes back to the beginning of the San Diego Comic-Con and has many friends to show for it. He started out as a film contributor for the early Comic-Cons and even went on to host is own mini-monthly cons in LA in the early ’70s.

It was in 2009 that an idea took hold that has been growing ever since. Shel Dorf, the leading founder of Comic-Con, was in hospital and did not have long to live. Greg, and a close group of friends, which included George Clayton Johnson, Richard Alf, William Clausen, Mike Towry, and Clatyon Moore, created The Shel Dorf Fan Club and Entourage. It was a beautiful gesture that pleased Shel very much and a wonderful way to say goodbye. Since 2009, the club has honored numerous talents in the industry with plans for much more to come, even an art museum. Then, early in 2012, SDCC co-founder Richard Alf passed away. This sad event has only spurred the Fan Club and friends to greater action. It is good to mention here that Richard Alf and Mike Towry were working on San Diego Comics Fest, a return to a more intimate event reminiscent of the early years of Comic-Con. And San Diego Comic Fest held its first annual event in 2012.

Through it all, Greg Koudoulian has remained a trusted, active, and much loved part of Comic-Con and its legacy. There are some special plans up ahead for the cartetaking of valuable archival material. While no formal announcements are ready to be made, it is what Greg is doing today that will lead to some exciting prospects for securing Comic-Con history in the future. One project is a documentary of the early San Diego Comic-Cons of the 1970s. The documentary has a working title of “Planet Cortez, A Legacy in Time.” The work involved is multi-layered: everything from digitizing a vast collection of material as well as creating essential new material.

When asked about his thoughts on the emergence of geek culture, specifically the evolution of the comics collecting culture, Greg is ready with an answer: “When Charles Kuralt, of CBS, went to Cherokee Books in Hollywood in 1973 and said that there might be a goldmine in your grandma’s attic, things went through the roof. When you’ve got Walter Cronkite endorsing your hobby on national television, that got it booming! The prices in the Overstreet Comics Price Guide began to inflate. For example, I bought ‘Superman #2’ in 1974, in fair condition for $125 and, a year later, sold it for $250. Around that time, Johnny Carson had on as a guest on ‘The Tonight Show’ someone who’d bought a copy of ‘Action Comics #1’ for $1,800. I was interviewed for the pilot to Tom Snyder’s ‘Tomorrow Show’ with my comics collection. And I managed to get a copy of ‘Action Comics #1’ lent to me to show but my interview never aired.”

And this leads us back to the WonderCon panel, “The Business & Hobby of Collecting Comics,” March 31, Sunday, 3:30-4:30 PM, Room 213AB. The panel will offer a variety of insights and stories to tell. Plus, stick around for some fun giveaways. Go to the Facebook page here. You can also call the hotline: 858-215-3659

Here are the details:

“The Business & Hobby of Collecting Comics,” March 31, Sunday, 3:30-4:30 PM, Room 213AB

From personal collections, working with museums and art galleries and even a little bit of hoarding, George Clayton Johnson, Barry Short, John Ellis, Eric Hoffman, Michael Hamersky, Alan Williams, and Dave Arshawsky are all fans and collectors of most things related to science fiction and comics. Collecting is a major industry these days; just watch the cable shows dedicated to it! Join moderator Greg Koudoulian to discuss how we can make sure that our histories and legacies are preserved for future generations, in both museums and art galleries and your own home!

The panelists:

George Clayton Johnson, wrote 8 original “Twilight Zone” stories and screenplays, wrote the first episode of “Star Trek” to be broadcast, and co-created “Ocean’s 11,” and “Logan’s Run.”

Barry Short, was a former Program Director for SDCC from 1982-86 and owner of 21st Century Comics from 1986-2003.

John Ellis, Partner in the Milton Caniff Estate, a Special Effects artist and writer.

Greg Koudoulian, Moderator, Early SDCC film program contributor, also produced first Mini Cons on the west coast in 1973-74 and a Collector too.

Eric Hoffman, Writer, Film Historian and collector of most SF Genre! Early SDCC film program contributor too.

MICHAEL HAMERSKY, Comics Dealer, blogger, and expert on the Comics Industry, past, present and future.

Alan Williams, former Comic Book store owner, Fanzine expert and writer.

Dave Arshawsky, Comic Book Artist, Toy designer, Sculptor, writer and Collector.

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Filed under Business, Collecting, Comic-Con International, Comic-Con International: San Diego, Comics, Entertainment, George Clayton Johnson, Greg Koudoulian, Investments, Panel Discussion, pop culture, Richard Alf, San Diego Comic Fest, San Diego Comic-Con, Shel Dorf, The Shel Dorf Fan Club and Entourage, WonderCon