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
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.
A war zone that may not be on your radar: the border state of Chihuahua and its city of Juarez. It is the site of more murders than war-torn Afghanistan. And ninety-seven percent of these killings remain unsolved. This is thanks to the inextricable link between drug cartels and official corruption. But thanks to human rights activists, these crimes will not fade away. Leaders like Chihuahua lawyer and organizer Lucha Castro won’t allow that to happen. “La Lucha,” published by Verso Books, is their story.
Edited by Adam Shapiro, head of campaigns at the human rights organization Front Line Defenders, the goal of the book is to put a face to a crisis. Written and drawn by Jon Sack, you have here a series of profiles and reportage that have the urgency of dispatches from the scene. And the art adds to the immediacy of each story.
Chihuahua lawyer and organizer Lucha Castro
There are all compelling stories to be found here. One example is the story of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz and her daughter, Rubi Marisol. Rubi was murdered by her boyfriend, Sergio Barraza. It was a clear-cut case. However, Sergio Barraza would never be found guilty simply for the fact that he was a member of the Zetas drug ring and that made him instantly untouchable. Rubi’s mother, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, led a fight to bring Sergio Barraza to justice. She was able to repeatedly track him down when authorities were not. Sergio Barraza was eventually slain in a shoot-out in 2012 with the Mexican Army. But during Marisela’s struggle for justice, the Mexican authorities, from the local level to the federal level, would not get involved. In the end, Marisela was killed for her efforts. This is quite an involved story. An excellent examination of it from Borderland Beat is right here.
If Americans are sensitive to Iraq and Afghanistan, then they should surely take notice of Mexico. Yes, if you’re looking for the most bloody war zone, all you have to do is look south of the U.S. border. Marisela Escobedo Ortiz’s murder was captured on video (starts at 1:05). Trust me, you don’t need to know a word of Spanish to appreciate the above video. “Él le disparó en la cabeza.” translates to “He shot her in the head.” Just in case, you need that clarity. Cultural and language barriers should never be an excuse for not understanding. That is what this book breaks free from in a very compelling read.
In memory of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz
“La Lucha” is an exemplary example of the comics medium. A book like this one proves how complex issues can be presented in a clear and concise manner that can benefit people in a myriad of ways. It can jump start conversations that require a number of facts that are not always easy to follow. It can make a difference. It can even save lives.
“La Lucha: The Story of Lucha Castro and Human Rights in Mexico” is published by Verso Books and is available as of March 31, 2015. You can find it here, here, here, and here.
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.
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.
These fashion-forward sandals shown above are made in Bogota, Columbia. This is one of the newest items available from this most enterprising company.
The 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
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:
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.