The plastic slipper known as abo sba-a (or the one with a finger/ toe) is big in Egypt. It is the same kind of slipper that the west calls flip flop. Yet, in Egypt, it has a magical power. The slippers, or as more commonly known shibshib is used for walking, going to the bathroom and in the case of Bedouins, climbing up mountains. It is also used to ward off the evil eye; hanging a shibshib (usually abo sba-a) on a new car is essential. The dangling shibshib attracts the evil eye and so the rest of the car remains out of focus.
Given how engrained the shibshib is in our culture, it was very sad to see less and less of them produced in Egypt and most are imported from abroad. However, the company Shibshibi (my slippers), founded in 2010, is trying to change that. All the merchandise is designed and produced in Egypt. We caught up with Nadia Ahmed, partner at Shibshibi, for more information.
“Sara Hamza (partner) wanted to re-design a product that has been a part of the Egyptian culture for a long time. The shibshib can be traced back over a hundred years. When Sara talked to me about it, I was immediately taken by the idea and encouraged the project’s take-off. They are 100% designed and made in Egypt,” Nadia said. “The materials used in our previous collections are rubber and PVC. The new collection is made from leather and leather board, which are made here in Egypt. The fabrics are a blend of Egyptian fabrics and fabrics from Turkey and the Middle East.”
Flip flops are usually a summer product, but winters here in Egypt are not of the freezing variety, so you might find the odd one in the street now and then. “The process of design consists of three phases: inspiration, brainstorming and prototyping. In the prototyping phase we adjust for comfort, aesthetics and quality. As we are more of a summer product, we usually release our collection in spring,” Nadia explained.
Shibshibi uses conventional and modern ways to bring attention to their products. “We seek to create customer awareness of our product and on building customer loyalty. We do our advertising and marketing mainly through social networks such as Facebook and this year we will be adding Instagram. We target women from the age group of 20-45 years,” Nadia said.
The new collection encourages customer’s creativity by offering a customisable flip flop. “This year our collection will be limited in sizes per style but with a variation of fabric straps that you can tie in many different ways, making the flip flop look different depending on how you tie it. (We will also add a small drawing to help show a few different ways you can tie the flip flops),” Nadia explained, “Our new collection will be available by the end of next week.”