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How One Company Is Changing Footwear and Homelessness STRIVING TO BEE BETTER
STRIVING TO ‘BEE BETTER’ As brands with a purpose like Bombas’ grow, larger corporations are taking notice and action. In 2018, Starbucks made a commitment to stop using disposable straws by 2020 after viral videos and public outcry raised awareness about the ecological consequences of plastic straws. Companies and corporations like Walmart, Goldman Sachs, and Wells Fargo have all committed billions of dollars each year to various charities as well. This new wave of philanthropic consumerism is causing many to question whether profiting off of helping people is ethical, but as Heath told the New York Times in 2016, their company is more focused on filling a need. “It’s a fine line between exploiting the people you’re trying to help and helping those people,” Heath said. The co-founder has also said his company doesn’t look to compete with other brands with a purpose. Instead, they look for ways to focus on their own cause, and in order to do that, they need to sell more socks. Bombas has focused on spreading its mission by promoting its brand as the best, most comfortable sock on the market. They offer consumers a better product, and they promise to make the world a little better too. Since Bombas is derived from the Latin word for bumblebee, “Bee Better” is stitched into every pair of Bombas socks. It’s a subtle reminder from the company that they’re on a mission to help homeless people — one pair of socks at a time.
“By 2025, Bombas wanted to donate 1 million pairs of socks; as of the winter of 2018, THEY HAD DONATED MORE THAN 16 MILLION.” But creating socks for homeless people is a useless endeavor unless it can actually be utilized by those people. That’s why Bombas joined a growing list of brands with a charitable purpose and began offering their durable socks to homeless people across the country. Inspired by TOMS Shoes, which first made the buy-one-give-one phenomenon mainstream, Bombas developed a business model in which they donate a pair of socks to a homeless person every time a customer purchases a pair. By 2025, Bombas wanted to donate 1 million pairs of socks; as of the winter of 2018, they had donated more than 16 million. By establishing partnerships with organizations and shelters in all 50 states, Bombas is simultaneously filling the need for better footwear for their customers and for those who rely on the durability, warmth, and comfort of socks the most. the socks were engineered makes them more durable, and they come in a variety of dark colors to hide stains.
When was the last time you seriously thought about your socks? If you’re like most people, you only think about socks when your grandma gives you some for your birthday or when your ankle socks keep falling down in your boots. But for the more than 554,000 homeless people in the United States, socks are one of the most important commodities they possess. Socks are the most commonly sought-after item at homeless shelters, but due to hygiene concerns and a lack of knowledge, most shelters struggle to provide enough pairs for those seeking clean, woolen comfort for their feet. Instead, many homeless people live with socks that are dirty and falling apart, causing stress, discomfort, and health complications — and that’s if they can find a pair at all. CREATING GREAT SOCKS After learning about the dire need for socks in America’s homeless shelters, Bombas co-founders Randy Goldberg and David Heath knew they had to find a solution. With no fashion experience, the two business experts dove into the surprisingly untapped world of sock engineering. For most consumers who purchased them, socks were barely a blip on the radar in the fashion industry. Goldberg and Heath’s developers created a sock that was tailored to curve with a person’s foot through what they call a honeycomb structure. Additionally, each sock is made with “stay-up” technology, features microfiber material to wick away moisture, and is designed to hug your heel. Creators even found a better way to manufacture that annoying toe stitch you’re always fidgeting with. Yet these weren’t meant to be quality, high-end socks for the average consumer; Goldberg and Heath wanted to create socks that catered to the specific needs of homeless populations. The way In 2013, Bombas sought to change that.
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