It's been a while since the last time we caught up with DivvyUp, the one-for-one sock company that donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair purchased. Eight months to be exact. Many changes have happened since then, such as moving out of Domi and into their own office in January of 2017 and new strategies for business expansion. Recently, we sat down with founders Jason McIntosh and Mitch Nelson for an update on what they've been up to and what is to come from DivvyUp in 2017.
1. Tell me about all the new changes happening at DivvyUp right now.
Oh boy, where to start?! A lot has changed at DivvyUp since the last blog post in June 2016. After two and a half years working out of Domi Station, we moved into a small office a few miles away from Florida State’s campus.
As for the new machine, it’s actually a digital sock dying machine. We got it up and running at the beginning of February, but everything that could go wrong went wrong. From trouble-shooting software (special thanks to Robert McLaws!) to ruining hundreds of socks, the past month has been filled with important learning lessons.
2. What do these changes mean for the future of DivvyUp?
For the first time in two and a half years, DivvyUp has a true competitive advantage in the market. In the custom sock industry there are companies that either offer low order quantities, but the price is too high and quality is poor or companies that offer high-quality socks, but the order quantity is way too high for small teams and organizations. The new sock machine allows DivvyUp to fill this gap. We are able to offer quantities as low as 15 pairs and give a far superior product. These new changes also mean DivvyUp controls the entire sock process. Owning the production side means we can iterate quicker, ensuring customers get the highest quality pair of custom socks that ship within 5 business days.
On the giving side, the new sock machine and expanded team will enable us to expedite our mission to give clean socks to those in need locally. There are many one-for-one companies like TOMS and Warby Parker that promise to give a product for every product sold, but there are still a lot of questions on the customer side: “What exactly is being given? Where is it going? When is it being given?”. DivvyUp is the first local one for one company. If you’re a baseball team in Indianapolis and purchase 25 pairs of custom socks, we ship 25 pairs of clean socks on behalf of the baseball team to their local homeless shelter. We think localized giving is the next step for the one for one model. The Giving Back page on our site has an interactive map that shows what’s gifted, where it is gifted and how much is gifted by the community.
3. What made it possible for the changes to happen?
The two biggest things that made these changes possible are, as strange as it may sound, a lack of funding and finding traction doing custom socks with Dance Marathons in 2015/2016.
Mitch and I went to Fort Worth, Texas in April 2016 to compete in TCU’s Values and Ventures Social Enterprise competition. The top prizes were $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000. DivvyUp ended up receiving an honorable mention and winning $2,500 for our monthly 3 pack business model. A few months into the model, we realized it was going to take a significant amount of ad dollars to get the pack concept off the ground. If we had won one of the top prizes at the competition, we would have wasted a lot of time throwing money at a model that didn’t have a strong competitive advantage. Having very little money forced us to question DivvyUp’s strategy.
We dipped our toes in custom socks last year by partnering with 7 Dance Marathons. However, due to lead times, minimum order quantities and knitted sock limitations, we were unable to work with more programs. Working intimately with these organizations and understanding their needs, allowed us to work with over 35 Dance Marathon programs around the country this year. Together, through these partnerships, we’ve raised over $30,000 for children’s hospitals and medical research and gifted 5,800 pairs of clean socks to homeless shelters across the country.
4. What have you learned in the past few months that you now implement to the development of DivvyUp?
The past few months taught us a lot about managing the design process, running maintenance on the sock machine, and understanding the true cost of making a pair of socks. All three will be invaluable moving forward as we hire more graphic designers and purchase additional machines.
5. What should we look forward to with DivvyUp/Is anything else you’d like to share?
A lot of cool socks! Keep an eye on the shop page as we are adding new designs every week.