Sexy Socks

Fairlady - - ENTREPRENEURS - DAVE HUTCHI­SON

Start-up cost: R25 000 Turnover: ‘We’ve dou­bled in turnover each year for the past two years. We now have stock in more than 130 stores in South Africa, 20 in the UK and a hand­ful across Europe.’

Be­lieve it or not, sock mogul Dave Hutchi­son started his ca­reer as a fi­nance lawyer, af­ter study­ing busi­ness sci­ence then law at UCT. It was dur­ing a trip to Lon­don to fur­ther his stud­ies that he re­alised he needed a change.

‘While I was there I was ex­posed to a whole lot of dif­fer­ent ideas and new ways of think­ing; I got away from ev­ery­thing that shapes you grow­ing up, and I re­alised that law wasn’t what I wanted to do,’ he says.

There he was also in­tro­duced to the con­cept of so­cial en­trepreneur­ship: com­pa­nies us­ing their busi­nesses – and a part of their prof­its – as a force for change. Dave knew this was some­thing that could ben­e­fit South Africa, so he came back home with a goal: to start a busi­ness that mat­tered. As a believer in fin­ish­ing what you start, he was de­ter­mined to com­plete his ar­ti­cles.

‘But I didn’t want to lose two years of what I re­ally wanted to do, so I set up Sexy Socks on the side and for the first 18 months I ran it at night, af­ter-hours and over week­ends.’

So why socks? Ini­tially, it was the pops of colour that the men in suits on the streets of Lon­don dis­played that fas­ci­nated Dave – he saw it as a fun way to give life to an oth­er­wise for­mal out­fit. But when he re­turned home, it was a man named Solomon that fi­nally con­vinced him to fol­low through with his idea.

‘One Satur­day af­ter­noon, the door­bell rang,’ Dave says. ‘It was one of those cold, wet days in Cape Town. The man at the gate was com­pletely drenched and all he wanted was some food. We brought him in and gave him some dry clothes and some­thing to eat. That was when I re­alised that his sit­u­a­tion wasn’t unique. There are thou­sands and thou­sands of peo­ple in Solomon’s po­si­tion. That got me think­ing about socks, and how I could give back to the com­mu­nity. So I de­cided that for ev­ery pair of Sexy Socks I sold, I would do­nate a pair of school socks to kids in need.’

On 1 April 2016, Dave walked out of his job as a fi­nance lawyer and never looked back. In less than a year, the busi­ness grew to a team of nine. The best ad­vice he got, he says, was to just go for it. That gem came from Jeff Be­zos, the founder of Ama­zon, who said in an in­ter­view that you need to put your­self in the shoes of your fu­ture self: what are you go­ing to re­gret more at 80: try­ing and fail­ing or not try­ing and never know­ing?

Sexy Socks has do­nated 30 000 pairs of socks to date, with about 45 000 left to hand out.

‘The socks give you an au­di­ence – the kids have to lis­ten to you while you give a lit­tle talk about en­trepreneur­ship. The goal is to in­spire them to think a bit big­ger and to un­der­stand that there is more to life than per­haps what they thought they could achieve.’

Dave’s goal with Sexy Socks is to be­come a global brand that is uni­ver­sally recog­nised as stand­ing for great qual­ity, eth­i­cal busi­ness prac­tices and a com­pany that is spear­head­ing a so­cial con­scious­ness move­ment through fash­ion in South Africa.

Made from bam­boo, Sexy Socks are eco-friendly, an­tibac­te­rial, anti-odour and anti-chafe. They are avail­able in South Africa, as well as in the UK and Europe.

And although Dave doesn’t de­sign the socks him­self, he says he knows enough to know which pairs are sexy yet ap­pro­pri­ate for work – and which are sure to get you sent home! sexysockssa.com

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