An Australian fashion accessories business is building a lucrative market selling injection molded PVC women's sandals, called ``jelly sandals.''
Ben Nothling, director of Noosa, Australia-based Holster Fashion Pty. Ltd., said the sandals now make up 80 percent of Holster's sales volume.
``Five years ago we started selling 1,000 pairs a year. Now it's up to 70,000 pairs,'' Nothling said.
``We are [selling] big volumes in Australia and in the [United Kingdom] and Europe. They are also sold throughout the South Pacific, like New Zealand and Fiji. We have deals with tourist resorts in places like the Philippines to stock them.
``We have just made our first shipment to South Africa and Japan and are processing our first order from Dubai,'' he said.
Nothling has contacted a distributor based in North Carolina with a view to cracking the U.S. market. He will not name the distributor, nor the company's Chinese manufacturer.
A surfing trip to Indonesia eight years ago led Nothling and his Australian fiancee, Natalie Miller, to launch the business. After the trip, they began importing and marketing Indonesian-made surfboard covers and fashion accessories, such as belts.
``They sold well. Then we started looking at other product lines and thought about jelly sandals,'' he said.
The company outsources the soft, open-toed PVC sandals from Chinese manufacturers.
Nothling said the point of difference for the product is Miller's designs and her ability to decorate the footwear with stylish touches, such as diamante studs and patterns. Although he and Miller originally used generic molds from their Chinese supplier, they now use molds designed in-house, he said.
The sandals sell for A$40 in Australia (US$29 ) and are offered in eight styles with a range of colors in each.
``They are soft, flexible and comfortable to wear,'' Nothling said. ``You can wear them at the beach or out to dinner. Being plastic they are very durable; it takes years to wear down the soles.''
But he said there are no plans to expand into men's sandals, simply because ``women buy a lot more [shoes] than men.''