Today’s corporate leaders realize that purpose is essential to starting and growing a business. That said, purpose alone won’t make your business successful. It is the integration of impact, quality products, customer service and meaningful storytelling that allows brands to gain a competitive advantage.
A company doing exemplary work marrying purpose and product is Bombas. The direct to consumer apparel brand donates a pair of socks for every pair they sell.
“Socks are the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters,” David Heath, co-founder and CEO of Bombas, tells We First. “It’s a luxury item for over 640,000 people who experience homelessness in the U.S. annually.”
In the past year, Bombas donated more than 40 million pairs of socks and shows no sign of slowing down. How do they do it? How did they turn an idea into a multimillion dollar social enterprise?
Heath learned about how important socks were to homeless people in 2011. “I started giving out socks to homeless people on my way to and from work in New York City,” Heath says. “I saw one guy take his shoes off and on one foot he had wrapped a bandana around his foot and on the other, he’d literally wrapped his foot into a plastic bag to stop the boot from rubbing against it.”
People living on the street often keep their shoes on at night for fear that they might be stolen. Not having access to socks presents health risks for homeless people. Since socks are a wear-through item, there’s a lack of them at donation centers. “How can I solve this problem at scale?” Heath wondered.
The young founder graduated from Babson College’s business school