Colourful businesses, colourful women, supporting themselves and those around them.
By Rebecca Ridhalgh
Mind Socks is a social enterprise, a popular new wave of business, where you can be successful and still help the community around you. Founders Carissa Belham and Mila Dhurbarry, developed socks with bright bold colours and supportive slogans to bring awareness and normalise mental health, something they both had personal and professional experience in. With their customer base desperate to purchase their socks before they had even launched, it is clear that these women are ready to have a big impact in 2017.
But how does starting an online business in socks help those with mental health?
Using the Thank You business model as their muse, Mind Socks donates 10% of their profits to small independent mental health organisations such as Grow, who support adolescents with anxiety and mental health issues. “We reached out to a lot of organisations nationally and invited them to apply. (We asked) how the donation will help the community and support their services,” Mila said.
However, these sock retailers are more than just financial beneficiaries, their colourful statement socks also give comfort and awareness to mental health within the community. “There is still so much work to do” Mila admitted “we want to make people inspired, to start supporting each other and at the same time as getting the (mental health) message out there (through the Mind Socks brand).”
Social enterprises still come up against the same issues of the atypical business such as brand awareness and product development. Mila explained, “We did everything on our own. Carissa and I just Googled everything. We both came up separately with a list of manufactures from Alibaba.” Product sourcing is often a difficult, time consuming and frustrating experience and for Mila and Carissa it was no exception. “Carissa is a person who wants everything to just happen straight away… whereas I was so picky about getting the right product and said we need to have the best product,” Mila revealed. Even though they often disagree, they see this as a competitive advantage as they get multiple perspectives and challenge each other’s thinking.
One space they didn’t disagree in (as much) was the design and marketing of Mind Socks. With her Bachelors degree in marketing/graphic design and several years experience in the industry, Carissa had the confidence to take the lead in this creative part of the business. “I have a degree in communications, which has given me a bit of insight on what to do,” Carissa disclosed, “We post everyday and we are still experimenting with content, different hash tags and different groups.” One piece of advice these savvy ladies gave was to “think outside the box” when choosing who you should connect and engage with on Instagram. For Mind Socks, Carissa acknowledged, “we really thought about the different markets…(such as) fitness, corporates, stylists and fashion.”
Even with a marketing guru taking the lead, it didn’t mean these passionate women got everything right the first time and could ignore feedback from others. “It’s really important to listen to others and take on what they have to say,” Mila divulged. Carissa and Mila took their own advice, when an acquaintance advised them that their social media strategy wasn’t having quite the desired effect; which Carissa elaborated on “at one point we did get feedback that we were looking like a mental health organisation, because we were posting a lot of quotes about mental health, however at the end of the day (we) are still a sock brand!”
Brand positioning isn’t much of an issue these days, with over 600 organic Instagram followers within eight weeks of active posting. They both agree, this is something they could not have achieved on their own, with both women bringing their individual set of skills and expertise to this partnership. “I think it would be quite difficult on your own, in the past I tried to start a brand on my own and I needed a partner, it’s key,” Carissa reflected. However, for those of us working solo, they advise to ”build a network (like LMBDW) around you” to support you and help you perfect your ideas.
Carissa and Mila know they have an upward battle ahead, with one in three new businesses failing in the first year. However, these clever ladies are optimistic about the future with their eye-catching product with a strong brand and social following to match. It’s their infectious passion and determination, which eliminates any doubt that Mind Socks will succeed, and Mila is just as positive, “there is nothing in the world you cannot do, once you put your mind to it.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rebecca Ridhalgh currently works in Banking and Finance and runs her e-c-commerce business JetSetGel. Obsessive about business and the entrepreneur space and always a feminist at heart — Rebecca loves her opportunity to meet impressive female business owners and learn from their experiences. Contact Rebecca via [email protected]