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The past five years since we launched Hippy Feet has been the learning experience of a lifetime. Three values have guided us through every challenge we faced: support people in need, protect our planet, and make our products in the United States. Keeping these values as our Northstar has taught us so much about how we can help make the world a better place.
Here are 5 things that we’ve learned about building a mission-driven brand...
Everyone can make a difference in their own way, but it takes a community to do something big. We’ve been fortunate to have amazing customers, mentors, and non-profit partners that make everything we do possible. There are young people who are no longer experiencing homeless because of Hippy Feet, but we haven’t done it all on our own. All our partners bring expertise and passion to helping the young people that we support and our customers allow us to keep doing this work.
Hippy Feet started with a buy-one, give-one business model. For every pair of socks we sold, we donated a pair to someone experiencing homelessness. We were able to donate 20,000 pairs but started to realize that we were just treating a symptom of homelessness. A person would receive a fresh pair of socks, but their life hadn’t changed. We could do better. It led us to create our employment program for homeless youth — we could give people income and opportunity. We could help get people back on their feet.
This program has continued to evolve and we will always strive to make a greater impact. Today, we operate under a 6-month employment model and connect the young people in our employment program with job certifications, counseling, bus passes, and other resources that help them on their path to self-sufficiency. We’re proud of the progress our program has made, but we hope to continually improve it.
Just like the safety briefing on a flight, “put your own mask on before assisting others.”
When you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to let it consume you. After some hard years early on, we realized that we needed to take care of ourselves in order to sustainably support Hippy Feet’s mission. Your own friendships, family, health, and happiness can’t go neglected if you hope to make a difference for other people.
Our employment program has supported over 150 young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who have experienced homelessness. Every one of those people has a different reason that they fell into the situation they’re in. The vast majority of those people desperately want to be back on their feet and improve their lives.
You never know who slept on the concrete last night. You never know who was thrust into housing instability to escape an unsafe living situation somewhere else. It’s worth going into every situation giving someone the benefit of the doubt, treating each person with dignity, and being compassionate at every turn.
Let’s face it: there are a lot of issues in the world right now. There’s no simple fix to solve every problem but every person can play a role in making the world a better place for themself and others. Progress is possible.
At Hippy Feet, our work is just getting started. There’s still so much to be done, but we know there’s no challenge that can’t be overcome when a passionate group of people come together to make a difference.
Thank you for your support over the years. Your generosity, words of encouragement, and kindness have had an incredible impact on the young people we work to support. None of this would be possible without you.
Peace and Love,
The Hippy Feet Team