By: Rachael Andrews
UGA School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) alumnus Stefan Lewinger (AB ’11) started Sock Fancy, a subscription service for high-quality, affordable socks, back in 2013 along with his co-founder, Futhum Tewolde. The Atlanta-based, Bulldog 100 “Most Subscribable” company currently has over 10,000 subscribers to their service, but the COVID-19 pandemic required Lewinger and Tewolde to rethink their success in light of a public health emergency.
“We had to figure out where our business belongs in this new economy and new reality,” Lewinger says.
In order to address some of the equipment shortages in the wake of the pandemic, Sock Fancy diverted about 60% of their production capacity to making reusable cloth face masks available for purchase.
“We wanted to help our community, and knew that we had great relationships with our manufacturers,” Lewinger says. “We wanted to provide masks for the greater public.”
They were aware of the shortage of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals and wanted to provide affordable masks for mass consumption, as well. Since they started production on the masks just last week, they have already sold over 6,000 masks.
Sock Fancy’s mask collection also has a philanthropic edge; for every mask sold, they will donate one mask to hospitals, nursing homes, and other essential workers.
“Right now, we’ve got a long running list of those who are struggling to find a steady supply of masks,” Lewinger explains. “Our focuses are on hospitals, obviously, but more on the patient side. There are patients who need to come into hospitals for necessary work, and the hospitals can’t give away their PPE to patients who may need it.”
Lewinger’s advice for other businesses is to maintain the messaging to customers and potential customers.
“Be honest with your messaging,” Lewinger says. “We wanted to make a difference during this public health crisis so we decided to add the ‘One Mask Purchased = One Mask Donated’ angle to help during this tumultuous and uncertain time.”
To purchase a cloth mask, visit Sock Fancy’s website at: https://sockfancy.com/pages/cloth-face-masks