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Heart and Sole campaign strives for mellowness in the workplace


Brian Curin wants people to walk a mile in his shoes—his current footwear, flip flops, however, not the corporate laced-up version he wore when he was helping develop fast-growing brands such as Moe’s Southwest Grill and Cold Stone Creamery.

Curin, 38, started the Flip Flop Shops, a franchise of around 100 retail locations, with best buddy Darin Kraetsch, as a lifestyle brand, even though both were on a fast track to develop stores domestically and internationally. To alleviate job-related stress, Curin engaged in a healthy, as well as, laid-back lifestyle. He ate well, was a nonsmoker, kept active. In fact, the day before a routine stress test a year ago, he completed an Insanity Workout, a strenuous exercise program that lives up to its name.

So imagine his partner's surprise when he received a text message from Curin’s wife that Curin had a heart problem. Actually, it was more than a problem, heart disease had been building for 12 years. Four arteries had significant blockages, including the “widow-maker,” which was 100 percent blocked, Curin says. In essence, his healthy lifestyle had been masking the severity of the disease. He immediately went from treadmill to emergency room, where doctors performed quadruple-bypass surgery.

“I feel 100 percent better,” Curin says, now a year later. A comment to which Kraetsch chimes in, “Just what we need, Brian with more energy.”

The experience had a profound affect on Curin, and in turn, on the franchise system. The result is a campaign with the moniker, “The Heart to Sole: Creating a Stress-Free America.” The program's key components are to “build awareness for the ‘pace not race’ message of slowing down and enjoying life, resulting in positive lifestyle changes,” encouraging annual stress tests and raising funds for the American Heart Association.

For franchisees that means Point-of-Sale donations; for the franchisor, both online donations, plus a donation of $500 to the American Heart Association from each new franchise fee.

The company has declared June National Stress-Free America month, where employees “embark on both national- and local-level grassroots campaigns to raise awareness for the importance of lowering stress and underscore the heart health message,” according to the company’s website fact sheet. 

And if that means every company in America encourages employees to relax and wear flip flops to work on Friday, so be it. It just so happens Curin has a pair of flip flops he will sell you.

Read more about the Flip Flop Shops in the April issue of Franchise Times, where the founders talk about taking their brand to the Middle East, a place of 365 days of summer weather.

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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