Gap + Bombas: Helping the Homeless One Sock at a Time
by Liz Nunan, Gap Inc. blogger
Today Bombas, the sock company with a mission, is hosting its first-ever 60k Day to help the homeless in New York City. On any given night in New York City there are 60,000 homeless men, women and children. 60k Day is a social good initiative Bombas is leading, to unite 60 New York-based companies to volunteer and support 60 New York-based shelters and service centers, to collectively donate 60,000 pairs of socks in one evening, as well as participate in other onsite volunteer programming.
Gap is super supportive of Bombas's mission, and we are very excited and humbled to be participating in this event. So, we wanted to share some background about Bombas straight from the mouths of the company's founders, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg.
Can you tell us the Bombas story — how you started, your inspiration and mission, where you are today?
Dave: We originally came up with the idea for Bombas after seeing a quote that said socks are often the most-requested clothing item at homeless shelters across the U.S. We were pretty struck with awe after reading that — realizing that something so small, something we took for granted, could be a luxury to someone else. We knew we had to do something.
Randy: Taking inspiration from the give-back business model, we realized the issue could be solved with a similar model. To donate a lot of socks, we knew we'd have to sell a lot of socks. And to do so, we'd have to carve out a space in an already-saturated market, and create a product people loved. So we looked at every pair of socks out there, identified our own pain-points with socks (they wouldn't stay up, the toe-seams created irritation, the material felt stiff), and worked with manufacturing partners to focus on comfort and function, incorporating several improvements and new technologies. Once we finally nailed it, we launched the brand and committed to donating a pair of specially designed donation socks for every pair we'd sell.
Dave: Since launching in late 2013, we've now donated more than 2 million pairs of socks to more than 600 giving partners, who support those who are homeless, in-need or at-risk across the country.
Why is it important to you to be a company that gives back?
Dave: For us, Bombas doesn't exist without the mission to give back. We founded this company solely to help solve a problem we learned existed in our community, and that mission continues to drive us every day. As a company, we regularly volunteer within our community, and on the first day for any new employee, they are given 10 pairs of our donation socks to hand out on their commute to work. It's the in-person interactions with the community that continues to fuel and inspire us to continue doing what we do every day.
How did your relationship with Gap begin? We were really excited to be a part of your 2015 goal to donate 1 million pairs of socks to homeless shelters.
Randy: The partnership with Gap was a really big moment for us, and actually happened pretty organically. We had started to gain some national exposure and traction, and the Gap team reached out to discuss a small capsule collection for the holiday season. We started to design a limited-edition collection in the Gap holiday colors, and from there the partnership grew to support our mission even more. We were ecstatic when Gap agreed to adopt our mission, and help us donate a pair of Bombas donation socks for any socks sold at Gap during the holiday season. It was incredible to see how quickly we were able donate 1 million pairs, and having the support of a company like Gap was really unbelievable.
How do you want your products to make people feel? How do you want to affect people's everyday lives?
Randy: Our products are designed to provide the ultimate level of comfort, to enable our customers to feel supported in their everyday lives — whether that is working, going to class, taking care of the kids, working out, or just lounging around.
What is the end goal of all of Bombas' efforts? How can people get involved?
Randy: The long-term goal is to eclipse the reason we started in the first place, and have such an impact so that socks are no longer a highly requested item at homeless shelters. In the meantime, we'll remain committed to continue participating in and facilitating social good activities, volunteering and supporting charitable partners, hoping to encourage others to do the same.