Meet the Company Using Socks to Change the World
This Father’s Day, we’re saying thanks to the #MenofNoonday who are helping us build a flourishing world. And as a token of our gratitude, we’re gifting the men in our lives with a Father’s Day classic: socks. But these socks are special. Created by Austin-based social brand Mitscoots, these socks create opportunity for people in need here in the U.S. Noonday Collection co-CEO Travis Wilson sat down with Tim Scott, the Founder of this inspiring company, to learn more about how Mitscoots is using socks to change the world.
Travis: Homelessness is obviously a big problem here in the U.S. When did this issue come onto your radar?
Tim: My wife and I volunteered in college with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a great organization here in Austin, along with some other organizations. We would go out and give food, water and clothes to people who were on the streets. It surprised me to realize that after food and water, what people requested the most was a clean pair of socks. It was incredible to me that an article of clothing I barely ever think about could be so important to someone living in tough conditions. We just thought, “this is a silly issue for someone to have to worry about. Wouldn’t it be great if someone started a give-back company for socks?”
After awhile it became clear that we were those someones. The itch to start something that could alleviate this problem for people in need grew and grew, and eventually we decided to pursue this dream full-time. But we wanted to do more than just give away socks. We had three missions that we still hold to today:
- Make great American socks that last.
- For every pair someone buys, we give a pair of equal quality socks to someone in need.
- We employ people in need to package up our socks, creating a sustainable way to alleviate the poverty at the source of this issue.
And that’s how Mitscoots was born.
What are your goals when you hire someone in need?
We view working with Mitscoots as a “step one” for the people we are trying to help. We don’t expect to be able to provide long-term, full-time salaries to them. Rather, what we want to do is be the bridge between people experiencing homelessness and companies who need good employees. For many of the people we partner with, getting a job is an enormous feat. Not because they’re not good workers, but because they don’t have the support system around them to help them get there. To get hired, they need work experience, but they can’t get that experience unless someone hires them. We want to break that cycle by becoming references for these individuals trying to get back on their feet.
We connect with people who need work through our great non-profit partners here in Austin. It’s important to us that the people we hire take the first step. When you’re in a situation where you have very little control over your life, like homelessness, taking the first step and saying, “I want this for myself. I want a better future” is an empowering and vital thing.
After you connect with people who want these jobs, what are the next steps you take?
When we hire people to come package our socks, they enter into our employment program, which typically lasts for 7-8 months. In the first month, they’ll work maybe three times a week for a few hours each day. We don’t want to overload them – we want this first step to be about learning skills like getting to work on time each day and being a reliable worker, as well as helping them set personal goals and develop long-term dreams. For many of the people we work with, the future hasn’t been something they dwell on. They live in survival mode day to day, so it takes a real shift to get them to realize that they can have a better future.
While they are working with us, we also help them fill out all the paperwork involved with getting your life back on track – and there is a lot of it. Applying for IDs and housing placements takes a lot of time and running around. After 7-8 months of working with us, we put our packers in touch with other businesses that are hiring. We provide a reference for them and help them build their resumes to make them marketable in the workforce.
How many people in need have you been able to provide work for?
So far we have helped 15 people find either permanent or temporary housing and helped them build their resumes through work as Mitscoots packers. We currently employ four guys to pack up our socks and we have big dreams of employing many more.
One of the coolest things to see is that the guys who pack our socks know that their work is going to help other people in their situation or in a worse situation. They know that for every pair they pack up to send to a customer, we’ll give a pair to someone in need. And that’s a very empowering thing for them. No one has more empathy for the homeless than people who are or have been homeless. These guys want to help others and they find a lot of strength in being able to do so through their work at Mitscoots.
As an ethical fashion company, where products are sourced is very important to us here at Noonday. Tell us a little about why your socks are made in America.
Well for one, we decided they had to be made in America because we wanted to ensure that we were selling the best possible quality socks. We have built relationships with our sock factory in North Carolina and we know exactly what they are doing to ensure quality. Because the socks we give out to people on the streets are the same socks we sell, we needed them to last. We needed them to withstand harsh conditions and maintain their quality for the people we are trying to help.
Secondly, I want to know exactly who makes my stuff. I never want to think that any person might be negatively affected by what we are doing here at Mitscoots. If we were creating jobs in the U.S. and giving out good socks to people in need, but were supporting sweatshops across the globe, that just wouldn’t make any sense. It wouldn’t fit with our core values as a company.
We’ve been fans of Mitscoots for a long time here at Noonday, so we were thrilled to get to partner with you for our #MenofNoonday Father’s Day campaign. Why do you feel that Noonday and Mitscoots make a good pair?
The admiration is mutual! We love getting to partner with other socially-minded companies, and especially other companies based here in Austin. Both of our companies love to make pretty things and we are both passionate about making those things in a way that makes an impact for others. It seemed like a natural fit.
We are really excited about the exclusive socks we’ve created in collaboration with Noonday. We designed a custom color palette in the Noonday blue and yellow and we think people are going to love them. If you haven’t snagged a pair, they are now available for purchase on our website.
So go rock some Noonday style and make a difference for people transitioning out of homelessness!
Want to get involved? Purchase your own pair of exclusive Noonday socks here, then snap a photo of your man wearing them using the hashtag #MenofNoonday to share how his support and encouragement empowers you to flourish!
Meet Travis Wilson
Travis is Noonday Collection’s Co-CEO. His journey to Noonday started many years ago when he left his job as an investment banker to become a banker to the poor in Africa. Travis is passionate about the role of entrepreneurship in alleviating poverty and creating social change. On weekends and when not traveling the world, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children.