“I’d love to never give away socks again because no one needs them,” Tim Scott declared. As the co-founder of Mitscoots, Tim has built his business around giving away socks…or so it seems. In reality, Tim’s vision for community change is much more expansive.
A successful Indiegogo campaign jolted Mitscoots into being in 2012. Six months ago, Tim came on full-time. Customers, non-profits and retail stores are all excited about this company built around a cause. Last month, The Austin Chronicle recognized Mitscoots with a “Best of Austin” award for their impact in Austin and beyond.
Mitscoots’ Toms-esque model is simple at its core: for every pair of socks purchased, a pair of socks is given away. But Tim doesn’t necessarily want to be identified with Toms. “The problem with Toms is they address the problem on a superficial level. They give kids shoes, but they wear out. How about helping them work for themselves?” Tim isn’t just talk, so he incorporated another layer into the Mitscoots model that makes a difference in the long-term.
While creating his business plan, Tim and his wife Agata realized that the socks would need to be packaged in some way. They would need a sticker to designate size and some sort of attractive labeling. Due to what Tim calls an epiphany, he realized that he could hire jobless people from off the streets of Austin to package socks for the company. And that’s Mitscoot’s magic element: yes, they provide an essential item to those in need (socks), which helps in the short-term. But they’re also creating jobs for a sector of the Austin population that needs work the most, a long-term solution that is already changing lives. So far, a total of 20 people have received part-time employment through Mitscoots, and more than 3,000 pairs of socks have been given away.
But Mitscoots offers more to employees than part-time work and pay. With the goal of changing lives at the forefront of his mind, Tim takes a holistic approach. “If people come in feeling blue or needing medical attention, we direct them to one of our non-profit partners and find help for them.” Partnerships with other organizations and companies are key, Tim insisted. “I will bend over backwards to make sure everyone is talking to everyone else to make change.”
With his focus on partnership, it’s no surprise that Tim regards his employees and the needy who receive Mitscoots socks with an attitude of inclusivity. “Top-down charities are all about people receiving. There’s no ‘let’s do this together.’ Restoring dignity is missing.” With every criticism of the status quo, Tim offers a solution. In an effort to restore dignity to the homeless, he extends a hand up along with this message, “Jump on board and rejoin society. If you commit to us, we’ll commit to you.”
We asked Tim what the future holds for Mitscoots. I dare you to find a response like this from the founder of a company represented on Wall Street: “Whatever works for those who are employed and is good for them. I won’t grow just to be bigger.”
How You Can Get Involved
If the mission of Mitscoots resonates with you, here are a few ways you can be the change you want to see:
- Purchase Mitscoots’ high-quality, American-made socks online, or at Austin locations like Parts & Labour and Pure Austin Fitness. For every pair purchased, a pair will be given away.
- Take advantage of volunteer opportunities with non-profits like Mobile Loaves and Fishes, one of Mitscoots’ partners.
- Tell somebody about Mitscoots.
It’s easy to fall into a trap of talking about causes you support, or complaining about problems in society, without ever doing anything to invoke change. I respect Tim and the team at Mitscoots because they’re doing something about the problems they’ve noticed around them. I hope you’re inspired as well.
Had you heard of Mitscoots before? What do you think about the company’s model?