A. We also have a wider social mission, myself and Richard, we have a plan and schedule for doing talks at universities, schools, doing courses and seminars where we are going to be doing a lot of talks on social enterprise, what it takes to be a social entrepreneur. We feel we have a great responsibility to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Q. I hear that over and over with the businesses that I have been meeting with.
A. Inspiration is the key, education is the second part. We can’t go out and say you have to care, you have to change. We want to be a shining example of how a global business can be caring of the world. You can be sustainable and abundantly profitable.So when I say inspiring the next generation of social entrepreneurs, what I mean is inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs who want to be making more money. I want to tell them: “It’s not that you can either do well, or do good. You can absolutely do both. And if you do both, you can actually be successful in both areas. But, if you need to make a difference you can’t do great in the world unless you make enough money to do great in the world with. You can only give once you have what you need yourself. That is the reality. In order to create great stuff in the world, we need to take care of ourselves. Being a martyr is not sustainable.
Q. I’m finding that a lot of social entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs by nature. It seems to be in their blood. I am interested in the area of social enterprise, where people are doing, socks, books, office products, whatever, where the social mission is baked into the business.
A. It is an interesting area. And as you probably read on the website, we are not into the sock business; we are into the happiness business which just happens to be in socks. It could be anything. The most inspiring thing is that at the moment there are so many businesses that are trying to do good, and it is only a matter of time that we all come together and there will be a tipping point.We are attracting cool people who want cool socks, once they are on a journey, and then maybe through osmosis and association they change. The first step of influence and transformation is to meet people in their own world and then raise awareness, and then through awareness comes action. We are bridging the gap between consumerism and contribution.
Tom sat there with me holding a copy of Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out, by Marci Shimoff, in his hands as though it were his bible. Marci Shimoff writes about the many ways that individuals can create happiness in their lives and cites many of the leading psychological studies on the role happiness of in various sectors of society as an important component of societal well-being. These studies have shown that happiness contributes to more success, better health, better relationships and to charitable behavior. I couldn’t help but probe more on how this fits in with their mission and purpose.
Q. Tell me about your goals to promote happiness and wellbeing.
A. As I understand it, everything comes back to happiness. If it doesn’t make you happy why do you do it really? From a wider perspective the happier we feel the more we are in alignment with a universal force, I think that is the evolution of us as a species and as a consciousness.
Q. Tell me about how your socks do that.
A. We are launching three designs; first one is stripes of varied colors. Stripy socks go one step further. So behind everything we do, we ask well what the meaning is, what’s the deeper purpose? Do you know, Penny On? They have a global mission. For every single pair of socks you buy have the option to add a penny on. The tissue inside the socks tells you where the pennies have gone missing. So each stripe is like a piece of a pie chart. This big stripe, represents the 26 million pounds of pennies that are lost in the street. Another stripe represents the 7.8 million pins of pennies missing in the car.
The second design is called: “what lies beneath.” Not everyone wants to show their bright socks. Above the shoe line, it’s normal, when you take your shoes off you see the design with different animals.Then we have the affirmation socks with the inspirational saying: “Today I will smile and feel good.” There is a message on the inside as well.
Not everyone in the world responds well to the idea of promoting happiness, after all with the reality of all the problems in the world, promoting happiness may seem stupid. And yet,their latest blog post, along with an explanation of the situation between Tibet and China, they boldly announced their goal to have the Dalia Lama’s picture wearing their socks on the cover of Time Magazine.
In an interview with Ed Diener, one of the leading researcher in the field of positive psychology and happiness, and author of: Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, the Dalai Lama has said that there is such a thing as “stupid happiness”.
Socks for Happy People is not about promoting “stupid happiness” for they have a keen sense of responsibility to raise people’s awareness of problems in the world. And Socks for Happy People strives to make people’s lives a little better, either by improving some aspect of the quality of their life, or by simply giving people a brighter and happier day with a smile.