By Courtney Pankrat
Two years ago, David Heath and Randy Goldberg had an idea to start a company after learning that socks are the more requested clothing item at homeless shelters. The New York-based startup Bombas Socks is poised to revolutionize the sock industry while spreading its message of pushing yourself to “Bee Better.”
David Heath says the Bee Better mantra is “one of the most important aspects of the brand” and that they made the decision to stitch the mantra into each sock they make to remind us all to push ourselves harder to be better at athletic pursuits, in everyday life and as a reminder that someone in need was helped with the purchase of the sock. They want their customers to remember that “we’re all connected and little improvements can add up to make a big difference.”
Heath and Goldberg used the TOMS One for One model; for every pair of socks sold, they donate one to a person in need. Meanwhile, they knew that they needed to create the perfect sock. With all the new designs in the apparel and sneaker industry in the past couple of decades, socks have pretty much stayed the same. Heath and Goldberg worked to create a sock to “look better, feel better and perform better.”
The socks are made of pima cotton with features like stay up technology, a blister tab and a y-stitched heel which creates a natural cup around your heel. They have also designed what they call an ‘Invisitoe’- eliminating the seam at the toes and a honeycomb support system – helping to distribute pressure evenly throughout the arch of your foot.
To distribute the socks to those in need, Bombas socks has partnered with Hannah’s Socks charity. Heath and Goldberg had experience in business development and marketing and had worked closely with a designer for their socks. They knew they were not experts when it came to donations; they had many questions about the best way to go about it to ensure that the donated socks would end up in the hands of those that needed them most. Creating a partnership with Hannah’s Socks charity allowed them to focus on what they did best while being assured that the donation process was running smoothly.
The donations will not be solely to homeless shelters. Heath and Goldberg plan to work with other charities as well — one potential recipient is ALS Worldwide; people suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) need compression socks with arch support.
David and Randy met in 2006 when they were early employees of the media startup UrbanDaddy. Over the 6 years on the team, UrbanDaddy grew from 7 people to 120 people. Along the way, the friendship between the two grew over their shared passion for exercise and entrepreneurship. The two spent many days throwing out business ideas over lunch knowing that one day they would start a business together. They both left their jobs in Spring of 2013 and are now working full time at Bombas Socks.
Creating a socially responsible company was very important to Heath and Goldberg, and they initially intended to keep production in the United States. Current EPA regulations against yarn-dying have shut down many factories across the country and make U.S. production cost-prohibitive for Bombas for now, though they say they hope to be able to bring production to the U.S. as the company grows. Bombas socks needed to find a balance between quality and competitive pricing if they wanted to be financially sustainable with their one to one plan. Heath and Goldberg searched the world for factories with no unfair labor practices and settled on a factory in China. While an independent audit has assured them the conditions at the factory are satisfactory, they plan to visit the factory later this Fall and document their trip first hand with a video they will post on their website.
Flush from their recent funding success — Bombas’ recent Indiegogo campaign raised over $142,000, blowing their original $15,000 goal out of the water — Heath and Goldberg are now setting about filling orders. Before the socks are even available in stores, they have pre-sold over 25,000 pairs, and are set to donate just as many. The Bombas Socks website went live on September 26; the company expects orders to be fulfilled by November.
Startups like Bombas Socks, who can contribute to a flourishing future economically, socially and environmentally, are invited to enter the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open which has arrived in London this year to catalyze the progress and impact of the next generation of better brands. Our finalists benefit from a week of introduction to influential brands, minds, experts and designers at the Sustainable Brands London conference. Submit your entry by Sunday September 29th here.