NATCHITOCHES – A Northwestern State University graduate and entrepreneur is combining business with philanthropy to provide socks to homeless shelters around the U.S. Austin McCann’s company, Open Thread, a designer sock company, will for every purchase donate a pair of long thick socks to homeless shelters in New Orleans, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Socks are the #1 need in the homeless community, McCann said, and he hopes that his designer sock company will help bridge the gap to meet that need. Since launching otsocks.com on Dec. 5, McCann has received positive support.
“The response to the mission of Open Thread is what draws people in,” McCann said. “There are many fantastic sock companies out there, but very few who give back in the way Open Thread does. The customers love the idea that for every sock pair purchased a long thick pair goes to a homeless shelter in a city of their choosing.”
Within the first 24 hours of launch, McCann recorded sales every 5-15 minutes, skyrocketing social media shares and customers from Louisiana, California, Texas, Florida and Mississippi. He was also approached blogs in New Orleans and Los Angeles about the initiative.
McCann is a native of New Orleans who earned a degree in business administration with a minor in liberal arts from the Louisiana Scholars’ College in 2013. He wrote his senior thesis on how to develop a small business into a large company and now finds himself putting everything he learned into practice. He later earned a master’s in business at Loyola University.
At NSU, McCann was a member of the Student Activities Board, a Freshman Connector and president of Theta Chi Fraternity, among other activities. McCann said the lifeskills he learned at NSU are priceless.
“While at Northwestern I was encouraged to get a summer internship away from home, so I picked San Francisco. When a kid from New Orleans thinks of San Francisco he doesn’t think homelessness he thinks of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, when I was there I learned San Francisco ranked #2 in the highest homeless population in the country. Everywhere I went I saw a homeless person. The lack of attention and the amount of help they needed kept pulling at my heart so I reached out to a local homeless shelter in the city and volunteered as much as I could that summer.”
The next summer, McCann traveled to Los Angeles to volunteer at shelters there.
“I kept going to different cities and seeing the homeless community struggling and I just wanted to do my part,” he said. “The response from the homeless community when they receive anything is with a grateful heart. From a jacket to a smile they are normally grateful.”
McCann, who has had a longtime affinity for designer socks, designed his first collection with a worldly theme.
“Creating my designs was the longest part of the project,” he said. “Before thinking of a design I had to determine what type of collection I wanted to start with. I decided that since my company wants to affect the world that I should represent the world. At that moment the idea of the “World Changer” collection came to mind. I decided to focus on areas of the world and create a sock that highlights that area. I created a sock to represent the Americas, Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia and a Unity. The unity sock is a globe put on a sock and a plane traveling around it which represents the world traveler, and the good work I hope to do around the world through this company.”
Designs for McCann’s next collection, titled “Controlled Chaos,” are already underway and will be available in 2018.
“This March will be the first time Open Thread will get to donate our donation socks,” he said. “We are hoping that our donation will bring warmth, hope and joy to the homeless community.”
McCann named his company with a glass half empty/half full concept.
“Open Thread represents torn socks that most homeless individuals have on their feet if any socks at all, or it can represent an open thread as an opportunity or beginning to a sock being created. My company is aware of the reality (torn socks), and want to provide an opportunity (warm thick socks) for the homeless community.”
For more information or to shop Open Thread online, visit otsocks.com.