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Close Call at Age 38: Footwear Chain President Launches Heart Disease Prevention Campaign

Flip Flop Shops Kicks off ???the Heart To Sole: Creating a Stress-Free America??? Campaign,Fight Against Heart Disease
Image for Georgio Salas
Updated: Feb 25, 2013
Word count: 1,204 · Read time: 7 mins

ATLANTA – Moving at rocket speed to launch multiple businesses and rise to the top of new industries almost cost Flip Flop Shops President & Co-Founder Brian Curin his life. The 38-year-old, fit, fast-moving entrepreneur, with a family history of heart-related problems, never slowed down to recognize signs of his own developing heart disease – until it was nearly too late.


Curin, an active lifestyle enthusiast who surfs, paddle-boards and enjoys motor cross sports, began to feel unusually fatigued after starting an intense home workout program. He passed it off to just being busy and tired, until a few weeks later, a “strange feeling” and sensation in his chest after the workout prompted a doctor’s visit. Standard EKG and blood tests came back normal. It wasn’t until Curin took – and failed – an exercise stress test that doctors recommended an angiogram. The shocking verdict: 100 percent blockage of the main artery—also known as “the widow maker”—and near complete blockage in three other arteries, requiring immediate open-heart surgery.


“They told me that I could suffer a fatal heart attack at any moment,” Curin said. “Every doctor, nurse and staff member kept joking that they had the wrong patient. They were like, there’s no way this young, fit guy wearing flip flops, a baseball cap and shorts needs emergency open-heart surgery.” 


Now, just months after his lifesaving surgery, Curin is on a mission to help others prevent a similar ordeal through launching “the Heart To Sole: Creating a Stress-Free America” campaign. The campaign, launching February 25, 2013, will raise funds to support the American Heart Association’s My Heart. My Life. healthy living initiative as well as the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, “With a Free Your Toes® Mentality,” Curin added. A variety of in-shop and online activities will focus on spreading the “pace” not “race” message and offer strategies to reduce stress, a common link to heart disease.


Flip Flop Shops is all about being active, happy and Freeing Your Toes®, so the message of reducing stress from your heart down to your sole suits us well,” he said. “Before I embraced the flip flops lifestyle, I was bustling through the grind non-stop, building iconic brands in the early years of my career. I’m sure the stress of those days took a toll. Going so fast I also missed the subtle signs – shortness of breath, feeling tired.”


To support the My Heart. My Life. initiative, Flip Flop Shops will donate $500 to the American Heart Association (AHA) for every franchise sold in 2013. In addition, starting in February, customers who donate $5 through will receive 20 percent off their next online purchase. In June, during “Stress-Free America Month,” Flip Flop Shops customers can make donations at the register in increments of $1, $2, and $5. Plus, Flip Flop Shops will donate $1 for every pair of SANÜK Yoga Mat or Beer Cozy flip flops purchased throughout the month.


“Flip Flop Shops’ creative campaign will help educate people on how to reduce stress, which may affect behaviors and factors proven to increase heart disease risk, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levelssmokingphysical inactivity and overeating,” said Dr. Robert Eckel, former president of the AHA, active member of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism and Professor of Medicine at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “We appreciate their efforts to help people manage these risk factors and their support of our My Heart. My Life.™ healthy living initiative.”


While donations will begin in February, the campaign will be most active during May and peak in June – the most prominent month for flip flops – to celebrate the company’s newly declared “Stress-Free America Month.” Activities will include: 


Flip Flop Fridays – Companies will be encouraged to abandon the old “casual Fridays” in favor of encouraging their employees to wear flip flops every Friday in June. Starting in May, companies can sign an online pledge committing to Flip Flop Fridays via the Flip Flop Shops Facebook Page, and donate $2 to the AHA for every employee pledged to wear flip flops. In addition, Flip Flop Shops has commissioned the research firm of Alexander Babbage to complete a study that will measure the stress levels of those who wear flip flops to work, compared to closed-toe footwear. The study will be released in April.


Instagram Contest Flip Flop Shops will tie in a weekly contest through Instagram, giving away a pair of flip flops each week to one Instagram user who shares their “Flip Flop Friday” photos from work.


Global Search to Find “Chill Ambassadors” – Flip Flop Shops will launch a Facebook contest in May to find its two Facebook fans that are the ultimate Chill Ambassadors. Winners will receive one free pair of flip flops each month for a year. Chill Ambassadors duties include sharing tips for living a care-free, laid-back lifestyle, along with photos and video reviews each month of their new flip flops.


Life’s Too Short To Wear Shoes Protests – Throughout “Stress-Free America Month” in June, Flip Flop Shops is partnering with SANÜK to set-up flip flop sit-in protests against our culture of all work and no play, encouraging people to take off their shoes and put on flip flops. Protests will be held in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Vancouver.


Darin Kraetsch, the CEO and Co-Founder (Size 10) of Flip Flop Shops, said Curin’s experience has given him new perspective on friendship, life and the company’s mission. “Brian and I have been friends and business partners for over 17 years,” Kraetsch said. “When I got that phone call about his open heart surgery and the seriousness of the situation, it shook my world. I’m really proud of Brian’s strength and the positive message he’s trying to share with this campaign. Slowing down, enjoying life, freeing your toes – it’s such an obvious fit for Flip Flop Shops.”


For more information about Flip Flop Shops and “the Heart To Sole” campaign visit the company’s Facebook page at


About Flip Flop Shops

Founded in 2004, Flip Flop Shops is North America’s first retail chain exclusive to the hottest brands and latest styles of flip flops and sandals from big names such as SANÜK, REEF, Cobian, Quiksilver, ROXY, OluKai and Cushe. Flip Flop Shops began franchising in January 2008 and continues to be recognized by industry leaders as one of the fastest-growing franchises and retailers in the nation. Company accolades include: the International Council of Shopping Centers’ prestigious “Hot Retailer Award” and ranking No. 170 in the 2012 Inc. 500 | 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States, as well as the sixth fastest-growing franchise and ninth fastest-growing retailer in the nation.


Growing the brand to more than 70 shops in operation and 110-plus in the development pipeline, the executive team boasts more than 50 years of franchise experience building and growing some of the world’s fastest-growing franchise concepts, category leaders and some of the world’s most well-known brands, including Cold Stone Creamery, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Nike and The lifestyle franchise is an Environmentally Responsible Retailer™ encouraging the nation to Free Their Toes®. For more information on the franchise opportunity, visit


Media Contact: Jayne Levy, Fishman PR & Marketing, 847-945-1300 ext. 225 or


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