Behind Our Brands: Stand 4 Socks

Social Supermarket
Stand 4 Socks

In the third instalment of our “Behind the Brands” series, we talk to Josh Turner, founder of Stand 4 Socks.

Take a look at the Stand 4 Socks products available here: Stand 4 Socks

Q: Where did the inspiration for Stand 4 Socks come from?

A: I have always been an entrepreneur and to be honest, the social side of entrepreneurship came naturally to me. I went to university in Birmingham and on graduating I was involved in a number of entrepreneurial activities, through both a specialist entrepreneur accelerator program as well as whilst working for Virgin in Manchester.

It was here the inspiration for Stand 4 Socks started; it literally started over a beer and the question, somewhat jovially at the time, “what if socks could change the world?” It snowballed from there really and we ran with the idea. Initially, we wanted to start with a concept similar to ‘livestrong’, sending a big bold message about what a person stood for whilst making socks not a dull afterthought, but a centerpiece of your outfit.  

Q: What is your philosophy as a brand and how does Stand 4 Socks make an impact?

A: Our philosophy is every transaction, however big or small, can make an impact.

All our projects involving socks have a tangible impact on the Globe e.g. planting trees, vaccinating children, helping homeless people etc. and we believe that through bright and bold socks we can raise awareness and start conversations about important issues.

Currently, we are making an impact on homelessness in the UK by giving a specially made, functional pair of socks to a homeless person in the UK for every set that is bought by our customers.

Q: As a brand, what is your biggest achievement to date?

A: Without a doubt it’s been a rollercoaster ride; when we started out I knew very little about charity and even less about socks (for example, I didn’t know the rules around what patterns were allowed etc)

Our biggest achievement really is the fact we donate to projects which have a tangible impact;  our most recent one is socks for the homeless. It’s a tricky issue as people rarely donate socks, so we felt we could make a real impact. We innovated and designed socks which were antibacterial, hard wearing etc. and are a real use day to day, not just donating any pair of socks.

Of course, it also nice to win awards and get press for what we are doing. I’m known as the ‘sock guy’ by people, which I like as it’s kind of random and whacky.

Q: Do you think there has been a change in recent years as to how consumers understand the products they buy? (e.g. their origins, impact etc.)

A: 100%; millennial motivations have changed and focussed massively versus previous generations. You see people actively checking packaging and wanting to understand where things are made.

In addition, I think the way consumers interact with brands like Stand 4 Socks is changing. Before it was about gifting and now it’s transforming towards repeat business and understanding the quality of our products and not just the good they do. If there are two products on the shelf, same quality, same price etc but one does good, more and more people will choose the one that does good. The impact of goods has shifted to the front of consumers minds and it is much more mainstream now than before.

Q: Why did you choose to become a social enterprise and what does it means an to you?

A: To be honest, it was not an active thought process. It was more like ‘why wouldn’t we’. Having said that, it’s not always easy as you have to source products and suppliers which align to those values.

With this, often there is a price implication. However, I think the way our generation thinks about these things is changing with expense almost becoming secondary and an increased focus on understanding why products wouldn’t be responsibly made and do good.

Josh Turner - Founder of Stand 4 Socks
Josh Turner – Founder of Stand 4 Socks

Q: Tell us how important your supply chain is to you and why?

A: Very important; our products are made in Turkey and at times, because of this, it can feel like you lose control over the supply chain but you can control it. For example, we use sustainable bamboo which is not always available with all factories etc. but you find a way.

Also, increasingly factories are coming to understand these changes and begin to understand that British brands and consumers respect suppliers that can accommodate these.

Of course, it’s the harder route and it takes longer to check everything but our whole brand and values are based around that so it’s not really a choice.

Q: Where do you see Stand 4 Socks in 3 years time and what further impact do you plan to have?

A: The focus for Stand 4 Socks is really in refining the brand and product by asking customers about what they see as most important.

From an impact point of view, our focus remains on homelessness however we are considering launching some other products to support more and more people e.g. notebooks for education.   Our focus remains on simple messages. These will not only be local and national but international too as it grows.

Q: Are you optimistic for the future and why?

A: Overall, very positive indeed. I’m of the opinion that social enterprise and ‘business for good’ will become less of a niche and more mainstream.

This will be driven by consumers and the direction they take but I’m confident companies that do good will become the norm.

Take a look at the Stand 4 Socks products available here: Stand 4 Socks

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