At the young age of 15, Madison Robinson is getting the kind of hands-on business experience that few internships and no class could ever offer – and she’s getting it because of an idea that sprang from her own head.
At eight years old, Robinson had the idea of flip flops adorned with sea creatures and battery-powered lights – the L.A. Gear of the sandal world, perhaps. She started making drawings of what would later become a new family company – Fish Flops for Kids. Her father, who also has fashion experience as a banker-turned-T-shirt designer, took the drawings and had samples made for trade shows. Trade shows led to buyers, which snowballed into $1.2 million in retail sales in 2012, plus revenue from wholesale deals.
All that means the young Robinson, with the help of her father, is getting an up-close look at how to run a successful business. She hasn’t just been doing the design work, either – the whole thing has become an internship of sorts, with the 15-year-old learning the in-and-outs of logistics, sales, online marketing, working the charity angle, and outsourcing production (OK, not all the lessons have necessarily been good ones).
It’s also like an internship in that Robinson isn’t getting paid – at least not yet. The high school student won’t be seeing a dime of that business money until she needs to start using it for college, where she can put together an academic education in business with the practical knowledge she already has. What does she want to do with all that education and experience? Who knows, but Robinson is intent on making her next company her very own, without dad’s help.
As for Fish Flops for Kids, you can find them online and in stores including Nordstrom and Macy’s, the latter of which is requesting a line for women. The flip flops sell for $20 a pair.