Staples, veterans and flip flops put Afghan girls in school.

Sounds crazy, right?

A global office supply company working with a team of special operations veterans to combat illiteracy–in a war zone.

It’s true.

And this is how it happened.

My name is Griff.  I’m the CEO/Co-founder of Combat Flip Flops and Army Ranger.  Combat Flip Flops is a mission-driven company that makes cool stuff in dangerous places.  As combat veterans, we saw the positive impact of employment and education amid the horrors of war.

This made such impact on our team that we departed the military and started a business making flip flops and fashion accessories in conflict zones. We used profits to put little girls in school–knowing that they were the most powerful weapon to defeat violent extremism.  The idea was so big that we even got invited to give a TEDx talk.

And then by another series random events, we ended up grabbing a bite to eat in Los Angeles after a sales meeting.  During that meal, we ran into a guy named Wes Siler.  Turns out that he was a writer for a website called “Gizmodo.”  We’d never heard of the website, but apparently they have a readership of 35 million unique visitors per month… No big deal, right?  He liked the mission and wrote this article.

It crashed our website for four days.  It. Was. Awesome.

Combat Flip Flops

The Floperator

Peacemaker Bangle

The Peacemaker Bangle

About a month later, my cell phone rings at 11pm on a Tuesday night with a weird number from California.  Probably a telemarketer.  Let it hit voicemail.  Might as well check it — I might have a long lost cousin in Africa who left me a few million.  Not that good, but a close second.  It was a producer from Shark Tank.  He read Wes’s Gizmodo article and thought we’d be a good company to pitch on America’s #1 Family TV show.

So we got to share our message with millions of Americans, drive the mission forward, and potential secure the help of the America’s most notable entrepreneurs?  Two words:  Game on.  We dropped everything, began training, and made ready to swim with sharks.

Shark Tank - Combat Flip Flops

Again, it was awesome.  We secured investment from Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, and Daymond John.  The public response was overwhelming.  And then we got a call from a really nice lady, Julie Olschansky.  She saw Combat Flip Flops on Shark Tank.

Julie works for Staples.

Julie and her team were excited to share the Combat Flip Flops mission, grow businesses in war zones, and put little girls in school.  Combat Flip Flops and staples rolled out a limited run of PICT shirts with Staples in May.  Because of her initiative, two Afghan girls will attend school for an entire year.

Combat Flip Flops - Afghani School Girls

Some Afghan girls we’ve helped send to school. (Faces blurred for their safety)

Combat Flip Flops is proud to be partnered with Staples to drive the mission forward.  We look forward to highlighting the new partner products, sharing images from dangerous places, and communicating the positive effects of good people doing good work, together.

Welcome to the Unarmed Forces.

Matthew "Griff" GriffinThis is a guest post from Matthew “Griff” Griffin. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Seattle, Wash. native co-founded Combat Flip Flops in Kabul, Afghanistan with the mission of fighting extremism by providing opportunity under the mission of “Business, Not Bullets.” In his free time, you can find Griff slaying fresh powder on skis, riding dirt bikes or bow-hunting big game.