From the inside I can tell you, it feels like we’ve always got something cooking at Freewaters. But when comedian Bert Kreischer tagged us in an Instagram post in 2019, we were pleasantly surprised (and somewhat confused.) We had no idea that we were about to cook up a relaunch of our most successful sandal to date!
It wasn’t the first time we had received a message from a fan regarding one of our discontinued sandals. Coming from a background in Customer Service, I had personally pleaded several cases to the co-founders that our fans were crying out for one style or another. But early on, we didn’t have a good way to gauge what the real consumer interest was for any particular style. We just trusted that the feedback and the wholesale orders we received from our retail dealers were representative of what the market wanted. Enter the power of social media!
To be honest, the events actually unfolded backwards for us that day. Jaime, our new Social Media & Marketing Coordinator rolled into work and noticed that our DM’s were being flooded with people trying to find out where they could buy the Dillon, or asking us to “Bring back the Dillon”. He was thinking, What is going on right now?! And what is this ‘Dillon’ they are asking for???😂
As Jaime dug into it, he discovered that we had been Insta-tagged by comedian Bert Kreischer, in a call-to-action post #bringbackthedillon and his 1.6 million followers were now pinging us! We quickly saw that there were many people interested in the sandal that Bert had called:
“The Best Flip-Flop I’ve ever owned in my entire life.”
(Bert Kreischer Tweet, 2014)
It would have been impossible to ignore such a passionate request for The Dillon from his fanbase!
Eli Marmar, our Co-Founder and then Head of Marketing, reached out to Bert to find out if we could meet to discuss his level of interest in a collaboration project. Bert being Bert, he upped the ante by suggesting that Eli come to his home and sit down with him to have the conversation on his Podcast, BertCast Episode# 356. They talked sandals for 2 hours! Deep diving into the complete history of Freewaters, the trials and tribulations of starting a footwear company, and Bert’s authority and random knowledge on flip flops and surf culture. Culminating with Bert convincing Eli to put the Dillon back into production ASAP! We love how sincere Bert really is about his fondness for this one flip flop. His enthusiasm is so darn catchy that he sells us on our own sandal!
"Dude, I'm a fan, that's all!"
Bert says to Eli, as they part ways after the BertCast recording.
Co-Founder and Head of Design, Martin Kim, quickly went to work on redesigning the Dillon sandal for relaunch. Collaborations with complementary brands have always been our jam. We love the opportunity to fuse our sandal designs with another brand’s personality for a unique and fun collab that brings people together. For example, our Therm-a-Rest and Channel Islands collections have been core to Freewaters since inception.
We knew it was important that this sandal have all the elements that Bert loved most about the original Dillon. Plus, to be a Freewaters Sandal, means that we always utilize our most up to date sustainable manufacturing practices. Along with some extra sauce and character, to give props to the funny man that loved one sandal so much, he was willing to put his face on it and coin himself The Self-Proclaimed Sandal King.
Boom! We give you The Bert Kreischer Dillon!
Of course, we could never have known what a collaboration with comedian Bert Kreischer was going to mean. We knew sandals and distribution, but to have Bert’s social audience suddenly paying attention to our brand was the great unknown. Would Bert fans really buy Bert’s favorite flip flop? Would Freewaters fans buy The Bert Kreischer Dillon?
Sandals and footwear are funny because production lead time is very long. So, it came to be in mid-2020, in the midst of the global pandemic. At a time when the retail world had been shut down for months and the economy and people’s hopes were at their lowest level in decades, that we re-launched The Dillon. The odds were really stacked against us on this, but the fan response was amazing! In fact, the first round of production was completely sold out in just a couple of hours! This was astounding!
For context, footwear doesn’t usually sellout instantly like concert tickets...
Unless it’s 1985, and we were Nike,
and Bert was Michael Jordan,
and The Dillon was Air Jor… never mind, you get the point! 😂
Traffic to our website was so high for several days after the sandals were sold out that we decided to put the sandals back up for a “presale” on the next round of production with delivery estimated for September. We thought to ourselves, people wouldn’t really want to prepay for sandals with a delivery in the Fall. Sandals were notoriously treated as a seasonal item in the retail world. Well, we were wrong about that too! 24 hours later we had to stop the presale just to be sure we didn’t overwhelm the factory with our order. Then we made twice as many sandals for delivery in September and included one of our great online retailers, Zappos.com, to help spread out the distribution and web traffic. And once again, we sold out of those extra sandals in 24 hours!
So here we are already in year two of The Dillon Relaunch, and The Dillon is back for a Four-Peat! We have to say for a limited time, because if history has taught us anything, we’re thinking they might not be in stock for very long. But rest assured, that for as long as Bert wishes to be The Sandal King and for as long as people want to wear the best flip flops Bert has ever owned in his entire life, we are honored to make The Dillon and the Lady Dillon.
Unlike the collectable sneaker industry, we will continue to make The Dillon at a reasonable price for every fan. Because all that we’ve ever wanted to do at Freewaters was improve people’s lives in two ways. By making the greatest sandals that people love to wear and in doing so, give people around the globe access to clean drinking water and an improved quality of life.
The Dillon is made for the love of sandals.
From Freewaters and our good friend Bert Kreischer
Author: Wendi Murphy
Freewaters Director of Key Accounts