Conscious Step is a social enterprise creating well designed socks to fight for global causes. In partnership with the some of the world’s most impactful organizations, each design contributes to a different global cause. In partnership with UNAIDS, the company has socks that provide 1 week of HIV therapy for an expectant mother; with Room to Read they have socks provide 2 schoolbooks; with Action Against Hunger they have socks that provide 6 meals for a starving child; with Water.org each pair provides 18 months of clean water to someone without this basic need, lastly, with Trees for the Future they have socks that plant 20 trees.
Sourced in India from one of the world’s most ecologically and socially sustainable supply chains, Conscious Step socks are made from organic, Fair Trade cotton. This makes them unbelievably comfortable, uncommonly durable, and as good to your feet as they are for the environment.
Conscious Step was founded in 2013 by finance professional, Prashant Mehta, Hassan Ahmad,a medical doctor, and Adam Long, an industrial designer and marketing strategist. Concerned with the lack of awareness and the gravity of issues faced by their generation, they sought to create a way for the conscious individual to support global solutions in a way that was convenient, tangible, and recognizable. They settled on socks, and Conscious Step was born.
Q&A with Co-Founder Prashant Mehta
From a young age, my mom has instilled the habit in me to give back. With each weeks allowance she provided me an envelope to donate to different causes, a constant reminder that whatever my issues, there were always people suffering. As I traveled and searched for ways to use my skills and knowledge to give back and improve my surroundings, I began to realize that giving was inherent in those who are self-aware and happiest. Through this time. I began to notice key factors in people’s giving habits. Today, we often give back when it’s convenient, such as a small donation after a purchase at the local store. Secondly, as Livestrong has shown us, recognition plays a key factor in sharing and conversing with our colleagues. Finally, everyone today is aware of the many causes and issues that affect our personal lives and the well-being of our planet.
Together we exist to work and learn from those who continue to make great strides with modern day issues, while empowering our generation to take conscious steps in their everyday lives.
Q:Manufacturing seems to be at the highest priority for you and your team. How difficult was it to build an fair-trade and sustainable manufacturing eco-system to help your brand grow?
Learning to manufacture ethically became inherent when our team decided we were going to raise awareness for the worlds most serious problems. Today, manufacturing is one of the largest forms of pollution in the world. Our everyday clothes are a result of modern day tragedies, and our desire for fast fashion and the latest fads has allowed many to lose appreciation for the art and meaning of clothing we wear.
As we searched and built relationships with factories we continued to ask questions, make visits, and learn what it meant to be fair-trade and organic.
Today, Conscious Step exists to learn and educate it’s customers about the values of ethical manufacturing, while taking leaps in the eco-friendly production of socks.
Q:Conscious Step works with some very established non-profits. Can you tell us a little bit about how you built those partnerships?
After interning at the World Health Organization, my co-founder Hassan had strong awareness for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Goals the United Nations had collaborated on to raise awareness for humanities greatest issues. Today they are known as the Sustainable Development Goals, launched recently in 2015 each of the seventeen issues represents one of modern societies greatest challenges.
The only way all of us can change these issues is by learning about them and understanding them. After we surveyed different types of people on which issues they felt were most important, we began to speak to leading non-profits asking for a model of donation that would create quantified change. Action Against Hunger for example shared they were raising awareness for malnutrition in Sub-Sahara Africa, and we worked with them to create a unique and engaging product that empowered our customers with solutions. Hunger steps provide 6 meals, Education – 2 books, Environment – 20 trees, Disease/HIV – 1 week of therapy (preventing transmission from mother to child), and our newest partner Water.Org – 18 months of clean water (provided to one person per pair). Conscious Step works with leading non-profits, due to their ability to deliver a powerful story and connect people directly to their inspired work.
Q:Your socks are very high quality and well designed. How long did it take you and your team to build a brand identity and come up with the designs that you were proud of?
With each design comes a powerful story. Colors, feeling, packaging, and sometimes even scents. We began by asking people in different demographics what quality meant, and what designs they appreciated in different lifestyle situations. Mistakes were made, but failure always teaches valuable lessons. Our team continues to speak to our customers and keep our products on limited runs. We continue to work with our partners to fund different projects and continuing to educate people and inspire positive change. We’ve actually just released our second hunger sock as well, with a new environment one coming soon.
Q:When you think about business and social good what inspires you about these two worlds colliding to solve some major global issues? Do you think we are seeing the future of problem solving through consumer products?
I think it’s necessary. In today’s world we are overwhelmed with consistent problems and negatives that we don’t feel we have solutions too, or don’t completely understand from the people on the ground.
Change doesn’t happen by throwing money at a problem. Change happens by learning and understanding an issue. The closer you get to those suffering, the more your able to provide a solution that makes a difference. The future of problem solving is actually the opposite. Less consumption is necessary, as is an increase in the understanding of how our choices affect the world around us. Solutions are valuable only if they are sustainable.
The world needs to continue it’s shift in consciousness towards lifestyles of sustainability. We’ve continued to see amazing strides in the food and fitness industries over the past decade, but today a better understanding of consumption issues and sustainable solutions will and can last in our fast and evolving world.
Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 200 countries. Grant has personally interviewed over 600 impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.