Being an entrepreneur certainly has its highs and lows. Everything is pretty much learnt along the way and you’re bound to make a few rookie mistakes. However, there are some lessons you don’t have to learn the hard way. It’s important for entrepreneurs to learn from each other. So today, Dave Hutchison, Founder of Sexy Socks, shares a little about his journey so far.
Where did you get the idea for Sexy Socks?
I was lying on my bed, trying to catch a sneaky afternoon snooze, when the doorbell rang. At the gate was a homeless man, drenched to the bone and shivering. His name was Solomon. All he wanted was some food. I welcomed him in and gave him something to eat, and set about finding him some dry clothes. I began to realise that there was no way that this man’s plight was unique. How many thousands of people are either homeless, living on the streets or in difficult circumstances in South Africa, freezing and cold? Surely there was a way in which businesses could help.
And that is how Sexy Socks was born. Based in Cape Town, Sexy Socks is determined to give school socks to every child in South Africa’s most underprivileged schools. Too many children go to school without socks because they simply cannot afford such luxuries. Our mission is to change this: for every pair of Sexy Socks sold, a pair of school socks is given to a child in need.
What are the main reasons for the success of Sexy Socks?
Sexy Socks is about so much more than just socks. Of course, our socks are awesome (super soft bamboo + designs we love) but they are, most importantly, the vehicle we use to make a larger impact on society. Our socks represent an opportunity for our customers to have a direct impact on the lives of those less fortunate. Sexy Socks talks directly to the heart of many South Africans and offers an alternative to the way that most businesses operate in South Africa.
Another reason is that we have listened. We have listened to those wiser than ourselves, and welcomed all guidance that has been offered. We have made mistakes but we have made sure that we stop and look at what went wrong, and what learnings can be taken from the experience. And all along, we have stayed true to the vision behind the brand.
As the founder of Sexy Socks, what are you most proud of?
I still get excited every time someone tells me that they own a pair of Sexy Socks. To watch the brand grow, and to see how many lives we have been able to touch with the support of our customers is something that I am really proud of.
And then there is my team. I am fortunate enough to work with a young, dynamic, passionate team who come to work every day excited about what we are building. To see each member of my team learn, develop and grow, and to see them love the vision of Sexy Socks as much as I do, is incredible.
Finally, the Sock Drops. We have given away over 30 000 pairs of socks, and we have a further 50 000 waiting to go. Now that’s what I am most proud of.
Three pieces of advice you would give to an entrepreneur just starting out?
- Just go for it. You will never know what you can achieve unless you give it a go. And there is nothing worse than not knowing.
- Listen. There are so many people who have a huge amount of experience and knowledge, and who are more than happy to share it with you to avoid you making the same mistakes they did. Listen to their advice. Learn from them. And surround yourself with good, reliable people who share your passion and support your dream. They will make all the difference.
- Never underestimate your idea, or think that it is too small. I mean, socks – really?
And the biggest lessons you have learnt so far?
Ask for help. Ask for advice. Sometimes it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Listen. And then, once you have taken it all in, decide on the best way forward.