Socks — quite possibly the most underrated piece of clothing; but for two business-savvy entrepreneurs, a multi-million dollar business idea. Bombas founders David Heath and Randy Goldberg transformed the trivialized business of socks into a booming e-commerce success.
Designed to provide maximum comfort, Bombas’ socks has generated nearly $100 million each year. And with each purchase a you make, Bombas donates a pair of socks to someone experiencing homelessness.
In an exclusive interview with Shopify, Shark Tank investor Daymond John opens up about Bombas’ ongoing success and what makes them so special.
Fulfilling A Need In The Community And The World
When asked if he saw any initial relation between Bombas’ and his own sportswear company, FUBU, John comments that both companies started out “knowing there was a common cause or problem they thought other people would relate to.”
The main mission of Bombas has always been to help those in need.
“We started Bombas after learning that socks are the No. 1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters, with a mission of donating a pair of socks for every pair we sell,” Dave Heath told ABC News. “I thought, ‘How sad is it that — something I’ve never spent more than a couple of seconds thinking about [how to pay for] could be seen as a true luxury for somebody else.”
As of today, Bombas has donated more than 40 million items to more than 2,500 communities or organizations. John goes on to say, “Number one, they’re saying, ‘Listen, I got an idea and I got a cause that I think we are neglecting.’ Number two is, ‘Not only am I addressing this cause, but I’m going to make a superior product that I think people would like.’”
Not only is Bombas supporting a good cause with their business, but they’re also fulfilling a general need — thus, addressing two issues with one product.
Social Awareness And How It Factors Into Business
Continuing with the interview, John goes on to discuss the importance of being socially aware of the problems within a community and how companies like Bombas take them into consideration when it comes to the success of their business — and not in manipulative way.
He opens the conversation with how FUBU started out back in the late 90’s.
“We were sponsoring kids in schools. We were doing all that type of stuff. I didn’t advertise or market it. There were no platforms to do that. And why should I do that? However, it turned around on us. After the numbers came out of what [revenue] the company was doing annually, there was a big backlash.”
People began accusing FUBU of not using enough of their resources to give back to the community. “We had to start actually paying and advertising the fact that we were giving back. And it felt really dirty.”
John comments how much times have changed and how social media platforms allow businesses to promote their mission in an authentic way. “Today, the beautiful part is you don’t have to do that. People know you from social media. They dig deep enough, especially if it’s on your initial mission statement, trying to look and investigate who you are and what you stand for—if it’s real or not.”
Creating The Perfect Sock
Inspired by the “buy-one, give-one” business boom, Heath and Goldberg sought to create a similar business to meet the high demand for clean and comfortable socks at homeless shelters.
“We looked at every pair of socks in the market [and] we realized that what most people were wearing just weren’t that comfortable. And there were ideas and features that we started to notice that we could improve upon, and we just set out on a … journey to create one, amazing pair of socks.”
Heath and Goldberg began contacting and working with manufacturers around the world to piece together the perfect sock. A large chunk of the process required testing and sampling existing socks, as well as ones they created.
After finally settling on the improvements needed to make the perfect sock, Heath and Goldberg quit their jobs and began a crowdfunding campaign in 2013, which gathered them over $140,000. They officially launched Bombas in October of that same year.
In 2014, the two co-founders appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, were Daymond John agreed to invest in the company. Since then, Bombas has become one of his top three most successful Shark Tank investments.
Remaining Focused On Their Mission
There’s been numerous booming e-commerce business like Bombas; companies that start out small and suddenly skyrocket to success. Unfortunately, few have been able to maintain that success. John notes that this is largely due to the company losing focus on their initial vision.
“It starts becoming really big, and they start looking purely at the numbers, and they start making bad decisions according to the numbers. Meaning: They can increase sales here by servicing this market, and then they take their eyes off the ball of the market that they’re serving. Or they go, “We can cut some corners here and reduce quality.”
Bombas states, as their opening statement on the “About Us” page, “We believe a more comfortable world is a better world.” Ever since their beginning, Bombas has stuck to that statement — striving to create quality comfort for anyone and everyone, even within the homeless community.
“Something that we say sometimes is, ‘It’s just socks.’ But when we say that, what we’re saying is, ‘It’s just socks, but look at what socks can do,’” Goldberg says.
“These are the types of things that when you start a business, you don’t imagine all the subtle and important things that can come of it. But the basic concept is what drives all this.”
- Featured Image, Unsplash