If you’re heading to the beach or lounging on a hot day, there’s a decent chance you’re wearing a pair of Hari Mari flip-flops. The Texas company celebrated its 10th anniversary this year and has grown from a plucky flops-only upstart to a serious footwear and apparel brand that just signed on its 1,000th retailer. But their origin story didn’t start in a business incubator or with a background in fashion. It started in Indonesia.
Founders Jeremy and Lila Stewart grew up in Dallas, but in 2007 they found themselves living and working in Jakarta — Jeremy was filming a documentary and Lila volunteered for the American Women’s Association, focusing on orphanages and children’s charities. During their time there, they got married, embraced the local culture and wore a lot of flip-flops. The marriage lasted, but the flip-flops didn’t, breaking down quickly and needing regular replacement in the hot, tropical climate.