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02 2013

Good-bye Boring Socks, Hello Socks that Start Businesses

Syndicated from: Getting Connected

As I put on my socks this morning, I couldn’t help but think “how boring”. They were just a simple pair of lady’s trouser socks. Sure I wore a nice pair of black dress pants and a very hot pair of Stuart Weiztman heels, but the socks themselves, well, they were a just ho-hum. One day, if the team at Cole + Parker has their way, my typical morning routine of grabbing boring, uninspiring socks will change – and so will yours. Instead they hope we’ll reach for a snazzy pair of colorful, statement socks that better match your mood and carry with them a sense of pride. Say good bye to boring socks and hello to socks that start businesses. Inspired by the ‘One for One’ business model made famous by TOMS shoes, the Cole + Parker brand co-founded by Londoners Diana Charabin and Jeff House, puts a new twist on an established idea coining the ‘One for Many’ business model. If you’re not familiar with the original concept, Blake Mycoskie is the founder and chief shoe giver at TOMS, and the person behind the idea of One for One, which has turned into a global movement. Basically, for every pair of TOMS shoes sold, the company donates another pair to someone in need. According to the TOMS website, the company has given over two million pairs of new shoes to children in need since 2006. The company also recently expanded its unique business model to include TOMS Eyewear, helping to save and restore sight for those in need. So, as young entrepreneurs, anxious to make a difference and feeling inspired by Mycoskie’s contribution to society and his approach to meaningful business, Charabin and House asked, “How do we achieve a similar impact without copying the idea or getting the “been there, done that” response in the marketplace?” This debate on a Sunday afternoon drive was the launching pad for the new One for Many movement that is gaining momentum and with any luck at all, is heading toward critical mass to put Cole + Parker on the international map. At first glance the company sells socks – really cool, vibrant, buck-the-trend kind of socks designed by Juan Mendez, a native of Columbia who lives in Canada and are produced thanks to product development leadership of Joe Patterson based in Carlsbad, California.   In reality, the socks are the seed money for a budding entrepreneur somewhere in the developing world. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the socks are given to Kiva, a non-profit organization that has already facilitated over 400 million dollars of micro finance loans. Kiva’s track record shows that 98 per cent of the loans are repaid and once it is, the money is re-loaned to other entrepreneurs creating a sustainable cycle. Mr. House found his passion was micro finance and seeding start-ups in developing countries when he was working on the front lines in Columbia and heard pitches from entrepreneurs who were anxious to seize opportunity. Add that life-changing experience, marry it with his love of socks then pull together a team of serial entrepreneurs with the boldness to move a project forward in a hurry and within five months, Cole + Parker has launched and is building momentum. In an effort to get the project off the ground, the team opted for crowd-source funding through Indie Go Go. So far they have reached their initial $20K financial goal, just in time for their pitch on CBC’s Dragon’s Den tomorrow (Wed April 5th). Whether or not they are successful and recieve the backing of one of the dragon’s will remain a secret until the show airs next season I’ve already pre-ordered my socks – I can’t wait to see what they look like once they start distributing the product. So long boring black trouser socks, hello bold and meaningful coverings for my feet that will ultimately start businesses.

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