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BYU–Hawaii alumna says time at BYUH as student and an instructor led her to start brand J-Slips

Martha Christensen walks on the beach in Laie with her J-Slips.

Inspired by business majors to start her own company, Martha Christensen, a previous academic advisor for the Faculty of Business & Government, began her journey towards creating her company J-Slips. Presently, J-slips offers students business internships as the company continues to spread across Polynesia. She said these student interns have brought great ideas and connections to the J-Slips family.

According to Christensen, a BYUH alumna, J-Slips is a family-owned footwear shop located in Laie, which sells Hawaiian-style sandals around the world. In addition to running her business, she also provides students with on-campus internships through BYUH.

“I was an academic advisor in the Business Department for 10 years. All these students would come in with their ideas, but I had never done a business myself. I just majored in business and was around people who did business,” said Christensen.

She said watching these students come in with their business dreams is what made her want to start her own company, and after her children had gotten older, she decided to do just that.

“My kids had gotten older, and I kind of wanted to start something, but I didn’t know what to start. The only thing I could think of was jewelry ... You can make a lot of money off of it, but it’s hard because there’s so much competition.”

After attempting to sell jewelry and even Hawaiian food on Amazon, Christensen said she realized there was a high demand for Hawaiian-style sandals, often referred to as jandals.

“My son went to Utah ... and he came back and said, ‘Mom, everyone is wearing these sandals in Utah, in the winter, with socks. Maybe we should sell some of those.’”

After selling for another company, Christensen decided to begin her own brand, J-Slips. She currently sells on Amazon and to distributors on the mainland and throughout Polynesia.

As her shop has grown, Christensen said she agreed to work with BYUH to offer on-campus internships by providing students with real-life experience and assist with the thriving business.

Jake Billings, a California sophomore studying business management, is a part of the team of five students interning for J-Slips this semester.

Billings said something cool about Christensen is her desire to help students. He said she hopes to improve their knowledge and their talents from wherever they are coming from.

Christensen said her team of students has been able to bring fresh ideas as well as new connections into J-slips.

“I think it’s a really good experience for [students], and it’s super helpful for me. They have tons of good ideas. One served his mission in Fiji. We’ve haven’t really shipped to Fiji. We do Tonga and Samoa. I don’t have connections [in Fiji], but he does.”

Ian Seiuli, a senior from Samoa majoring in information technology, said as part of their internship they help with promoting the business on social media and work towards increasing revenue for J-Slips.

He added he believes bringing in students will have a positive impact on the business in the future.

“Martha is doing an awesome job with the internship and partnering with the school. There are so many kids here with a lot of ideas.

“We might just have a tiny impact on her business for now, but in the long run ... consistently doing [internships] and involving [students] in her business ... can help improve things which need to be improved. J-Slips has a big future ahead of them.”