It’s counterintuitive to think that mismatched socks could be a catalyst for social change, but at Voyce Threads, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Founder Drew Shaw (pictured) says the inspiration for his business came from a children’s book he wrote called Rosewood Circle: The First Day, in which the main character is a third-grader who wears mismatched socks. As Shaw brainstormed ideas to market the book using mismatched socks, something bigger unfolded. “The idea for a kids sock company turned into something that was more socially impactful and community-focused,” he says.
With the help of Seed Spot, a nonprofit that supports social entrepreneurs, Shaw created Voyce Threads, a company producing mismatched socks to raise awareness of social causes and nonprofit organizations in Arizona. Each mismatched sock design is meant to inspire conversations and tell the story of the work those organizations are doing for the community.
“Our mission is to cause conversation,” Shaw says. “We don’t always want to be very obvious with our designs. We want to leave enough to the imagination to start a conversation with the person wearing the socks.”
Voyce Threads partners with numerous nonprofits throughout the state, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, Circle the City, UMOM New Day Centers, the Arizona Humane Society and Teach for America. Shaw says he’s always open to partnering with more organizations, and one component of the criteria is whether the organization has an inspiring story. “The main thing is, when they tell me their story, am I inspired?” he says. “When I have an initial conversation with an organization, I’m mining for gold. I’m listening for stories that perk up my ears.”
Once Shaw has spoken with an organization, the next step is to figure out a design that best reflects the story and message the group wants to convey. For that, Shaw works closely with his lead designer, Noah Romero. He shares the nonprofit’s mission, stories and unique aspects while Romero gets to work coming up with colors, patterns and design ideas that best represent the organization.
“Certain colors and certain patterns evoke memories or emotions from people, so we use design elements and design theory in our patterns and designs,” Shaw says. “And because our socks are mismatched — the same colors, but different designs — it gives us two different canvases we can play with to tell a complementary story.”
In addition to spreading awareness and telling stories about nonprofits, a portion of Voyce Threads’ sock sales goes toward each featured organization. But Shaw says the storytelling is what’s most valuable: “Our value proposition is to tell their story and have people fall in love with their organization and their work.”
Social Spin, a nonprofit providing access to free laundry services, was one of the first organizations to partner with Voyce Threads. Founder Christy Moore says she and Shaw share the same passions, values and vision, which has made the partnership successful.
“Voyce Threads has connected us to the most amazing people and causes,” Moore says. “It’s provided us with a unique platform to spread our message, merchandise that we’re extremely proud of and funds to support our purpose.”
Shaw says the community has played a big part in Voyce Threads’ success since the beginning, supporting both the business and the organizations it supports. “I am of the belief that people are inherently generous — they just sometimes lack the mechanism to give,” Shaw says. “So, that’s why we present something as novel as a sock to serve as a vehicle for generosity.”
Voyce Threads’ products can be purchased online through the company’s website.