PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — A certain social enterprise believes that small steps – that is, with the right footwear – can make a big difference. Conscious Step, a high-quality sock business, is producing fair-trade, organic fashion socks in an effort to fight global poverty and create sustainably cognizant buyers.
The business began when two men’s fervency for entrepreneurialism, poverty awareness and fashion collided. They wanted to take a daily necessity and give it a far more significant scope – and they chose socks. For each pair of socks sold, a fixed dollar value is donated to a charitable organization fighting to solve a social, environmental or economic injustice. Feeding children in Kenya, building schools in Nepal and planting trees in Ghana are among the few global efforts facilitated by Conscious Step.
I got the opportunity to sit down with Prashant Mehta and Hassan Ahmad, two of the co-founders, to learn more about the inspiration behind their simple, yet innovative business.
What drove you to begin Conscious Step. How did you initially become involved?
I studied at Bryant University as a finance major and held a minor in international affairs. I took courses that focused on global politics and learned about the philosophical and sociological side of things. I studied abroad in Australia, and returned there three years later after the exchange program. From my experiences abroad I learned to explore new challenges and picked up a new perspective of how I could help global issues such as poverty.
I studied medicine in Sydney, Australia, and was fortunate enough to land an internship with the World Health Organization (WHO), and always held a deep-rooted focus in humanitarian issues. Conscious Step seemed like the perfect opportunity, so Prashant and I founded the business together.
What sets you apart from other humanitarian-oriented companies?
Mehta: Conscious Step sets its focus on sustainable fashion. We find this essential as a way to not just find the end to poverty, but to create more socially conscious customers. We want to get a better product out there, and educate people on sustainable fashion as an industry.
How do you plan on directing your public image as humanitarian-based?
The values of a company need to run through its entirety and need to provide authenticity throughout the entire brand. We want it to be known of the conditions in which the socks are made and the minimal detrimental environmental impact that [this process has]. Conscious Step wants to be as transparent as possible when communicating to customers and in terms of changing their attitudes towards their purchasing habits.
Where do you see your company in the next five years?
Ahmad: In five years we envision a strong e-commerce business and online presence. We also hope to have strong sock subscriptions, where customers would receive socks in the mail every few months. A big retail presence is necessary for a physical presence. We want people to engage with the product in addition to ordering them online.
What is a mistake that brought a valuable lesson?
Ahmad: Everything is new, and so therefore everything we do could be considered a mistake. But we view it more as guidance than as error.
To learn about Conscious Step’s amazing initiative, visit their site!
– Samantha Scheetz
Sources: Conscious Step, Prashant Mehta and Hassan Ahmad Interview Date: July 7, 2014
Photo: Conscious Step