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interviews & case studies

How to pay it forward in business with Bare Kind

We meet Lucy, the founder of Bare Kind. They sell bamboo socks that save endangered animals and are on a mission to create a business that pays it forward

I’m Lucy, the founder of Bare Kind. We sell bamboo socks that save endangered animals. 10% of the profits from every pair of socks is donated to help save the species printed on the sock.

I founded the company in 2018 because I wanted to have more of a positive impact on the world. Since then, I have grown from a ‘side-hustle’ to quitting my full-time job to a team of 5 people. As we grow, we can donate more to conservation causes we care about, and one of the primary objectives for 2022 is to increase our range of animals from 21 to 100, so watch this space!

From a business point of view, we have seen some tremendous growth. Since quitting my job to put all my energy into the company, I’ve seen it grow ten times compared to the previous year. In 2021 we donated £10,000 to our charity partners to help with their conservation efforts. This year our goal is to get that donation number up to £50,000!

Review your business as a whole and the impact it makes. Pick one area to make a positive change in and take that step. It’s essential to take one step at a time not to become overwhelmed but continue to make progress.

Making an impact

Making a positive impact was the driving force behind me starting Bare Kind. When I was working for a bank, I did not feel  I was impacting the world much. What was my legacy going to be?

And now I think I have found it. Every day I get to wake up and work towards something I truly believe in. We know we live in a consumer-driven society, spending excessive amounts on apparel worldwide. What if 10% of all those sales went to saving the world?

At the end of 2021, we added up all our donations and worked out our charity impact for the year. We pulled it together in one fantastic report to share with our customers and stakeholders. In 2021, our Orangutan socks could save 887 acres of tropical forest through the Orangutan Foundation’s forest protection scheme.

Our leopard, sloth and range of jungle animal socks support Rainforest Trust UK. For quarter 4 of last year, through the sale of these socks, we protected 506 acres of rainforest.

Another impressive statistic is that through the sale of our turtle socks, the Turtle Foundation would support the release of 4,300 baby turtles on a beach in Indonesia!

Working with charities and partners

There are two streams of work that will help support our partner charities: funding and Awareness.

Firstly, we can funnel more money into their conservation efforts, and after a tough two years where Covid-19 meant people couldn’t volunteer or fundraise, and donations were down, these charities need our help more than ever.

And secondly, these charities want to spread their message as far as possible, and we can provide an audience for this with what we do. We aim to inspire and educate and generate donations by selling socks.

One of our objectives this year is to start shedding some light on species that people may not have heard of.

One such species is the humble Numbat. A marsupial species from Australia, Numbats, are one of the most endangered animals globally, and hardly anyone knows they even exist. We will be bringing out a Numbat sock in 2022, and with it, hopefully, bring in some more Numbat fans!

My eureka moment

In October 2020, after half a year of keeping the business shut down because of Covid-19, I decided to throw all my spare cash into Facebook ads. I went for a bit of a Hail Mary for the Christmas season.

I wanted to get through as much stock as possible and then decide what to do with the business. It was a make or break moment for me. It turns out it was a special moment for me! Sales went through the roof.

In October, I had my most successful month, and we sold out of all the socks by November. It was at that point I decided to quit my day job.

I knew that for this business to go somewhere, I needed to give it all my time and energy to have a tangible impact on the world. We have grown since that moment. It was the best decision I could have made, and I feel very proud of all that we have achieved since then.

Validating my idea

I started small and grew from there. I knew I wanted to bring out a product that donated funds to charity, so I actually settled on that model first and then went on the hunt for a product that would fit.

I landed on bamboo socks because they are such a trend. People love to have jazzy, comfy socks that are high quality and last more than a few washes without losing quality

I envisioned these super colourful socks with cute animal patterns, and I wanted to bring them to life.

I started with turtle socks, testing one animal with my target audience to see how they went down. Of course, I am taking a risk in investing in the MOQ of my product, I had to order a minimum of 1,500 socks to get started, but I truly believed that this was a high-quality product that people would love. I was right! They went down a treat, and people asked me for more animals straight away. From there, I knew that I had traction and could start bringing out different animals and designs.

I quickly launched another four methods to create my originals, which kept me going from December 2019 through to May 2021 when I worked on brand new designs.

I learned to look at trends and listen to customer feedback

I knew how important it was to have a large variety of designs on offer, as I hit my biggest ever revenue day on the release of five brand new creations. Since then, my new sock release days have always been record-breaking revenue days!

Challenges I am glad I experienced

We have had issues with some of our children’s socks’ sizing range. The first batch came out smaller than intended and did not correspond with its labelled size.

It was a very stressful time as I wanted to give my customers the best possible product, which was not what I had promised. I learned a few key lessons.

  • Production issues will happen. You need to be patient and work with your supplier as a partner to go ahead a fix the issue
  • I need to stay on top of quality control. Consistency within the product itself is so important, especially when you want to work with larger retailers
  • Third-party supplier management is an essential skill that is essential to improve.

Overall I am glad these issues have occurred at an earlier stage. It helps me push for a higher standard and hold the supplier accountable when problems arise. It’s an entirely new field for me, I’d never worked with a factory before, but I have learned so much in the past few years. I do know that I still have so much to learn.

Overrated advice

One potential option for bringing products to market is the scattergun approach. You release a load of different products and hope one resonates with customers and takes off. I think that this is a waste of time and energy and also goes against the values of many customers these days because they want simplicity and quality.

I tried one product at a time and honed that product, and now we have grown that one concept into many different variants. Possibly one day, I will diversify into various products, but the messaging that I have with the socks right now is strong, and I see Bare Kind as an animal-saving sock company!

Finding work-life balance

I leave my phone at home when I don’t need it.

The simplest way for me to not be checking emails is to take away the option! It isn’t always possible, but if I am going out for dinner or a walk, I don’t need my phone for those few hours, and I feel all the better for being off the grid for a bit.

For your bookshelf

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – the story of Nike is an incredible one. I implore you to read this book if you are interested in business.

What the future holds

The socks we have got in the pipeline. By far, the most exciting part of the job is when we receive new sock designs, we have got some incredible animals coming this year, with some fantastic charity partnerships. I cannot wait to bring more funding to these animals in dire need of our help. One day I want to turn around and say we have donated over £1 million to charity.

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