Dave Hutchison was inspired to start Sexy Socks after helping a homeless man in Cape Town, South Africa and decided he wanted to make a real difference in people’s lives. Now this United Kingdom based company gives school socks to underprivileged children in South Africa for every pair that is bought.
All of the Sexy Socks collection is made of 83% bamboo, making them extremely soft and environmentally sustainable, as well as anti— odor, hypoallergenic, and anti— bacterial.
Interview with Dave Hutchison, founder of Sexy Socks!
I spent a year in London in 2013 working in the corporate world, and fell in love with the idea of awesomely bright socks. It was the one place that people could get away with being a little cheeky at work, while still looking perfectly respectable. Also while in London, I was introduced to the concept of social entrepreneurship and absolutely loved it. I thought that if there was any country in the world that needed it, it was South Africa. And I was determined to go home and set something up.
One afternoon, back in South Africa, I was at home and my doorbell rang. It was the middle of winter, and it was pouring with rain. At the gate was a homeless man, drenched to the bone and shivering. His name was Solomon. All he wanted was some food. I brought him in and gave him some food, and set about finding him some dry clothes.
While Solomon was changing, I began to realize that there was no way that this man’s plight was unique. How many thousands of people were either homeless or living in a shack in South Africa, freezing and cold? Surely there was a way in which businesses can help?
And this is when my mind started to think about socks. When I had returned to Cape Town, I had been very disappointed with Cape Town’s sock game. Still determined to set up a social enterprise, I began to look more and more into the social issues surrounding socks, and I realized that socks are a luxury which are not afforded to many people. Socks – something that I have always considered a staple – were something that many school children just had to go without.
Yet socks are a dignity item, and not having any when others at school do, affects the confidence of the children. And this is when the idea for Sexy Socks was born. If we sold enough awesome, bright socks to up the sock game of people all over South Africa, we could provide enough socks to ensure that no child ever has to go to school without socks on again.
What inspires your funky designs?
The idea of funky socks was inspired by life in London, but I can’t claim any credit for the actual designs. I have an incredibly talented young designer who spends many hours dreaming up the best possible designs for our socks.
Tell us more about your mission to empower youth to be social entrepreneurs.
When Sexy Socks started out, we were all about giving away socks. Our mission was to ensure that no child ever had to go to school without socks again. But after we had done a couple of Sock Drops – where we go into schools, talk to the students about what we are doing, and give every child in the school a new pair to wear – I realized that the true power of what we were doing lay not in the giving of the socks, but rather in the platform which the Sock Drops gave us to get into schools and talk to the students about how business can be used as a force for good, and how entrepreneurship can represent a way out of the poverty trap.
We use this platform to inspire the children to do something to change their own circumstances and to make society a better place, every time they put on their socks. This could be as small as helping out their mum at home, or finishing high school. Or it could be something far bigger, like setting up their own social enterprise and running their own business. Our vision is to help students realize – and believe – that they have the power to change their circumstances.
How is Sexy Socks changing the negative views on the one-for-one model?
We use the socks that we donate to gain an audience with school children. The Sock Drops provide us with the platform to share our message: to inspire the students to make a change in their own life, through entrepreneurship.
After a successfully funded crowdfunding campaign, what’s the next big step for Sexy Socks?
Our vision is to have Sexy Socks available on every continent, and to localize our mission wherever we go. We started in South Africa, and, having already given away 20 000 pairs of socks with a further 15 000 pairs in the pipeline, we are slowly making progress. But the need isn’t limited to South Africa. In the UK, we hope to work with NGOs and Charities to share a message of hope, and as we grow our plan is to have a similar impact in every country that Sexy Socks is available.