Product, Service & Design Innovation
Bombas Socks' One-for-One Model Helping to Warm Feet — and Hearts

New York-based startup Bombas Socks is poised to revolutionize the sock industry while spreading its message of pushing yourself to “Bee Better.”

Two years ago, after learning that socks are the more requested clothing item at homeless shelters, founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg decided to create a company based on the TOMS shoes plan: One for One.

Not only did Heath and Goldberg plan that for every pair of socks sold, they would donate one to a person in need, they knew that they needed to create the perfect sock. With all the new designs in the apparel industry in the past couple of decades, socks have pretty much stayed the same; they are more or less an afterthought. Heath and Goldberg worked to create a sock to “look better, feel better and perform better.”

Bombas (derived for the Latin word for “bumblebee”) Socks are made of Peruvian pima cotton, which helps feet stay warm in winter and cool in summer, and include exclusive features such as “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 often-irritating toe seam found in normal socks —and added a honeycomb support system that helps distribute pressure evenly throughout the arch of your foot.

Heath says the “Bee Better” mantra is “the most important part 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 and 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 met in 2006 when they were the sixth and seventh employees of the startup Urban Daddy. Over the six years on the team, Urban Daddy grew from seven 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. Needing to find a balance between quality and competitive pricing in order to remain financially sustainable with their one-to-one plan, Heath and Goldberg searched the world for factories with no risk of 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.

To distribute the socks to those in need, Bombas has partnered with Hannah's Socks. The Ohio-based charity was created in 2004 when 4-year-old Hannah Turner was helping serve dinner at a homeless shelter and noticed a man without socks. She offered to give him her socks as she was worried he was cold. The next day her mother brought her back to the shelter to donate socks they had purchased. Two years after they started the program, they had donated nearly 10,000 pairs. The new partnership with Bombas Socks will help Hannah’s Socks to achieve its mission of donating 225,000 pairs of socks to Midwestern homeless and domestic violence shelters this year.

Heath and Goldberg are looking to partner 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.

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.

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