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Jelly shoes on track for US launch

By: Kate Tilley

February 7, 2014

Jelly shoes on track for US launch

RICHMOND, AUSTRALIA — An Australian man's quest for a nostalgic gift for his kid sister has sparked a new business selling Chinese-manufactured PVC sandals.

Kristian Klein, now 26, found an old pair of plastic sandals, popular in his childhood and for many years before that, to which his younger sister took a liking. He hunted unsuccessfully for a pair to give her.

Klein managed to find a factory just outside Guangzhou, China, that could manufacture them for him, but the smallest quantity was 16,000. "I went to buy one pair and ending up buying 16,000," he told Plastics News.

Klein established Jelly Beans Footwear Pty. Ltd., based in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond, in November 2011 to import and market the injection-molded sandals — affectionately known as "jellies" — as they experience a resurgence in popularity among today's young adults.

He aims to launch the business in the United States in April or May. It will involve a public relations campaign to market the product and Klein said he has a sales team "ready to go to take care of selling the product." There will also be deals with U.S. retailers.

"We are also talking to about 15 distributors across the world. We hope to hit [almost] every continent this year," he told Plastics News.

After Klein launched a Jelly Beans website in February 2012, he said the product "just went crazy."

And he has Australian women's magazine Frankie to thank for that. Its Facebook post about the shoes generated so many hits it took the magazine's website down.

Klein said "that was the moment we knew we were onto something. It was the first thing that really blew us up."

The PVC shoes are sold to 200 retailers Australia-wide and via the website.

In April or May, Jelly Beans will release a new PVC product range, including high-heeled sandals, socks and transparent backpacks. Klein said the new products will "stick to the fun, bright, beachy theme projected through the sandals."

The company's success has in part taken Klein by surprise. He knew from early research the product would generate interest. But he was "certainly blown away that it went that crazy so quickly. It's rare for that to happen over a product."

Jelly Beans Footwear employs four staff in the Richmond head office and uses warehouses in Sydney, New South Wales, and Los Angeles.