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How to prototype & manufacture a sandal from scratch?

I have a project right now creating flip flops and would love to get insight. (this is reposted) Here's our story so far:

  • As we're generating & finalizing designs, we've considered finding an experienced industrial designer to help us avoid typical pitfalls. For this, we may seek out students & professors at industrial design schools and poking around maker spaces that prototype for companies. But at the same time, we'd be keen to hear other product routes options.
  • We're planning to visit several manufacturers in Nicaragua and Costa Rica closer to the end of the year once our prototype is finalized. When looking at samples created from our prototypes, we're really curious as to what we should have our eyes and ears focusing on.
  • We also don't have experience in products that require sizing - unsure if we create our own molds for sizing or operate off existing models. FYI, materials of our sandals could be one or a combination of leather, vegan leather, rubber, recycled rubber, ariaprene, etc.

My main question is this:

What should we be looking out for in prototyping & manufacturing, especially outside of common sense, and are we taking the right approach wanting to find an industrial designer?

Any guidance from you all would be tremendously helpful, especially since this is outside of normal web & software questions.Cheers in advance.

3 Replies

Daniel Coyle
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Daniel Coyle Entrepreneur
Founder/Instructor at Coyle Outdoors
TrevorI am a small manufacturer and appreciate your question. VERY quickly (not very in depth response) I would definitely ask potential manufacturers for references (companies or individuals who have used them before for making similar products - ideally in the US or english speaking) . If you get lucky you could find a company that is no longer in business or an owner who sold the business and isn't worried about you follow on competing. such a company could potentially tell you a lot about what to expect. Get a phone number(s) and call these folks.Dan Daniel Coyle Owner - Coyle LLC541-760-0774mailing - PO Box 2389 Corvallis, OR 97339 location - 245 SW Cummings, Corvallis, OR 97333
Logan J. Vickery
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Logan J. Vickery Entrepreneur
Furniture Designer at Corn Upholstery
On the design side, I'd want to know more about the product. I'm not sure there's a checklist that can be universally applied to all products of things to look out for. Also, "flip flops" isn't specific enough. You listed a lot of material options but not your design intent, which is the driving force behind decision making. What unique about this product? I'm a product guy, feel free to reach out to me.
Jeremy Lautman
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Jeremy Lautman Entrepreneur
Full Stack Software Engineer (Java/Angularjs) UPenn Grad student for summer internships
Don't know if I can help with the question, but random idea: What if you make the flip-flops oversized and let them cut away any extra? Could even have suggested cutting lines on the sole. Lets one size fit all...with minor modification.
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