When it comes to legendary brands that reflect the San Diego lifestyle, there’s not many better than Sanuk. Jeff Kelley, Founder of Sanuk, joins Bob Rief in the Views From The Bus Podcast. In the 90s, Jeff started making sandals out of indoor-carpet and the spirit of innovation became the backbone of the brand. Jeff has a rare combination of creativity and sense of humor. We hope you enjoy the episode! 

Podcast Highlights

5:07 – How Jeff Kelly got started in the outdoor business: “I was fortunate enough to grow up in Huntington beach, which was kind of the epicenter of the surfing world.”

8:47 – How the Furreal Sandal came to be: “I decided to start my own sandal company, which I called Sanuk and it means fun in Thai.”

11:55 – Making sandals flexible: “I realized that if I were able to make a shoe on a sandal foot bed, it would be flexible, like being barefoot. It would feel more like walking naturally.”

12:20 – Creating the hang footwear category: “We introduced a line of sandal shoes that hung on racks. Like flip-flops with a tagline that says this is not a shoe, it’s a sandal. And that was the beginning of the whole hanging footwear category. It was the beginning of the whole natural movement motion, which Nike then followed with their free category and everybody in the world jumped on.”

16:00 – How the name Sanuk came to be: “I was looking for a name that was a positive name. And then I was with a friend of mine that was manufacturing jewelry for a home shopping network. On the inside of some of his rings was the word Sanuka nd I asked him what it meant. He said, Oh, it means fun in Thai.”

22:48 – Creating a bike that attaches to a paddle board: “Sometimes you hit bullseyes, sometimes you don’t. I had been working on a bike that you could attach to a standup paddle board. A buddy of mine that started events.com was at my house. And somebody from San Francisco had sent him water bikes and he said, hey JK, I don’t think this guy knows what he’s doing, he’s got a product that’s pretty cool, but I think he needs some help branding.”