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National Family Week

This week is National Family Week in Australia; an annual celebration of families that aims to recognise and appreciate the vital role that families play in Australian society. They ask us to take time this week to reflect on the critical role that families play in teaching, supporting and nurturing children, especially as they grow.

Since Slappa’s Thongs is a proud family owned and run business, I thought I’d take time this week to do just that; reflect on how our family unit supports and encourages each other and those in our community.

A Family Business

Our family consists of myself (Denise), my husband Roger, and our two children Bernie (13) and Kaylee (11). Then there’s our gorgeous little daschund Frankie who is nearly 8 now.

When I first started Slappa’s Thongs I never imagined how much a part of the family it would become, but over the years it has not only played an integral part in our family’s livelihood but in our growth as individuals and a family unit.

It began in 2010 with me juggling a new business and two small children. By 2015 the business and workload had grown so much that Roger joined the company full-time as well. And as they got older Bernie and Kaylee began helping out in small ways to earn a bit of pocket money, usually so they could save up and buy things for their bike.

Even our doggie Frankie joined the crew as head of security!!!

Bernie and Kaylee are now on the payroll working a few hours a week learning how the business runs, getting vital skills and understanding how employment works.

They both now have their own Tax File Number which will be with them for life. They are learning how to fill in a time book, read their payslip and best of all learning how to save their money. The biggest learning curve for them both is the commitment they need to make, being responsible, time management, making sure they do the job efficiently and correctly.

They really enjoy being a part of the business and we love being able to share the ups and downs with them and provide so many opportunities to grow and learn. In fact we’ve often found that they are even able to teach us a few things!

It’s a great feeling having us all involved and working towards a common goal making it truly a “family business”.

Our Family And The Cycling Community

As a family we all love cycling. We all ride socially and race road and mountain bikes. Cycling is our way of doing something together, exercising and having fun. We have all made many new friends and our cycling groups are like one big extended family.

Now that the kids are older and at competition age it’s become quite common for us to travel for cycling and the kids race interstate a few times a year. Recently we had a family holiday in Queensland to see the Track Cycling at the Commonwealth Games it was extremely exciting and the kids learnt a lot from watching the athletes from all other Commonwealth countries.

Last year, Roger participated in the Tour de Timor which was a gruelling race through East Timor mountains. Roger needed to train 4-5 times a week for 12 months to be fit enough to compete. As a family we needed to make some allowances so he had the time to be able to work and get his training done. While he was there he donated hundreds of Slappa’s Thongs to Encouragement House.

The Cycling community is a fantastic group to be involved with and it is great for us to know the kids will be looked after well when they go away for racing. Bernie (aged 13) competed in a Road Race in the Barossa Valley, South Australia this April. It was the first time he had flown on his own, and he handled it very well. A lovely family in Adelaide picked him up from the airport and he stayed with them for the 4 days of competition. They made him feel like one of their family and made sure he felt comfortable and supported. As a mother it meant a lot to me that my son was being well cared for while away from his family. It was a good opportunity for him to learn to do things on his own without Mum and Dad’s help. These trips have definitely boosted his confidence and prepared him for when he leaves home for work or further studies.

My family’s next challenge will be to help me make time to train for the Katherine to Darwin Ride I am doing soon! And in October I will be walking the Inca Trail in Peru.

Teaching Family Values

Growing up in a big family and in a country town my parents always had extra kids staying over and they were always the first ones to put up their hands to take someone in.

Roger and I have always done the same and have offered a place to stay for many people over the years (include Terra Roams; the first woman to walk solo and unsupported around Australia, and 18 year old Jack Totino; who rode around Australia in 2017 raising money for FightMND).

We’ve made some amazing friends doing this and it gave us an opportunity to instil the value of helping others in Bernie and Kaylee too.

National Families Week is a time to celebrate with your family, make contact with your extended family and friends, and share in the enjoyment of family activities within the wider community. It is a time to celebrate the meaning of family and to make the most of family life.

Take some time this week to reflect on your family. Thank you for reading about mine.

Thongs on!


The holiday season has passed for the moment, what a relief! Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with the family and enjoying the Christmas and New Year celebrations. But, it’s a bit overwhelming at times and I’m eager to get back into the business.

Of course, that said, there is another Public Holiday on the horizon and it’s a biggie….

Australia Day

Being an Aussie girl, born and raised I love enjoying a good Australia Day Barbecue and time at the beach. And, I also love that while it’s a big day it isn’t a break-the-bank holiday, it’s a simple holiday about coming together as a community.

Sure, it’s about National Pride but more than that Australia Day is about embracing our differences. And, nowhere in Australia is that more evident than in Darwin!

Call it bias, but in my opinion, Darwin is Australia’s best melting pot. Sure, we don’t have a China Town like most other Australian Capital Cities do but we do have a huge array of markets. In Darwin you can find a number of restaurants, you can eat food from a different culture every night if you want – it’s amazing!

That intercultural experience of people coming together, no matter their difference in background – that’s what Australia Day is all about to me.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi

As an Australian Business Owner, it’s important to me to support my fellow Australians when I can. However, as an Australian, I also believe it’s important to embrace what the world has to offer, which is why Slappa’s are manufactured in China (check out the Glimpse Behind the Scenes Blog).

Working the local Mindil Beach Markets every Dry Season, I know that no matter a person’s cultural background they can be exemplary. There are stallholders from a variety of backgrounds at the markets and they all do an amazing job. Of course, as far as I see it they’re all just like me- Australian Business Owners.

Celebrating Australia Day

Now for this Australia Day, I fully intend on enjoying time at the beach (unless it rains). But, mostly I look forward to getting together with everyone and celebrating what makes our country great.

No matter where you are from, I hope you have a terrific Australia Day. And, for those Aussies travelling abroad, I hope you enjoy your Australia Day too.

Thongs On!


I am a huge supporter of Australian made, both clothing, footwear and produce for the table.

From when I first started buying my own clothes and footwear I’d more often than not, choose to buy items made in Australia.

I’m not sure if it had something to do with being brought up on a farm. Or I just felt it was important to support Australian businesses.

But one thing I know, it was worth paying a bit more for the quality.  I continued to do this for many years until it almost became impossible.

Now that I am manufacturing my own product I can see why the majority of clothing and footwear are made overseas.

Do you ever think about how things are made when you buy clothing or footwear?

Why are Slappa’s manufactured overseas?

Manufacturing in China takes me away from my family a lot. The flights are long, I rarely see another westerner, living in a hotel is not glamorous and not being able to speak the language makes it even more of a challenge. (This isn’t by choice. I started to learn Mandarin but was told it was a waste of time as most people in this part of China don’t speak the Mandarin dialect!)

It can be lonely and damn right frustrating but I am learning every day and I’m not the only one out there doing this. There are many more entrepreneurs just like me.

It’s not by choice that I, and many others, manufacture in China or other parts of the world. The simple fact is there is no manufacturer in Australia. People just don’t seem to want to do these jobs anymore.

So what do you think when you see “Made in China”?

Well, I use to think cheap, mass produced, sweatshops and poor quality. This is still true in some cases, but not all of the time.

These days most Chinese factory workers are well paid and looked after. Their wages are almost equivalent to Australian factory wages.

The Hard Miles

You might think making a pair of thongs is simple. Wrong.

While it might be true for some thongs, it’s definitely not for Slappa’s. It’s really hard work. We need to make sure the size, firmness and support are correct. Comfy and supportive is not simple to achieve (we take footcare seriously).

Getting the right people behind you, creating good relationships, finding the right factory that can make your product to your standards and doing your own quality control are just some of the ways we guarantee a quality product.

For me, achieving all of this can be a nightmare. A small change to the materials, temperature and a different worker can make a huge difference to the end product.

This is why my manager and I are hands on at the production runs in China. Keeping an eagle eye on the production lines means we can pinpoint any changes and rectify problems straight away.

We have changed factories a number of times, for many reasons. Finding a new one is extremely difficult as most manufacturers won’t even consider making our product as we produce smaller quantities than the likes of the European, Russian or Middle Eastern countries. I try to explain we are a smaller country too!

So why do I do this?

I ask myself this question every day. Some days I think I have rocks in my head, other days my customers make it so rewarding and worthwhile. Plus it’s pretty exciting to see so many people all over Australia and the world wearing my thongs.

It’s great to be able to say I now feel so confident in our current factory that I’m currently producing the biggest order ever. That’s right, it’s the largest production run in our 7-year history.

I’m very nervous, but also very excited.  It’ll be a relief to not keep running out of stock in some sizes and colours after the summer season. Mind you, when our customers keep telling everyone “they are the best thongs I have ever owned”, there is a big chance we’ll still run out.

At Slappa’s, we pride ourselves on the quality of our product and the customer service we offer. We like to think we are a niche product.

Sure there are some things you can’t keep doing yourself and need to outsource but in our case, we want to try and continue to give that personal touch for as long as we can.

So next time you’re buying a product think about the people behind the product and the processes it has gone through to be made.

Thongs On!