As a podcast host, I have the privilege of meeting and interviewing some truly inspiring individuals. One such person is Michael Mader, the founder and CEO of Hippy Feet, a sock and apparel company with a mission to end youth homelessness. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the key insights from our conversation.
Meeting Michael Mader
Michael is not just the CEO of Hippy Feet; he’s also the heart and soul of the company. His day-to-day role involves everything from sales and revenue driving efforts to product design, marketing, and managing collaborations and brand relationships. He’s a man of many hats, but what truly sets him apart is his passion for helping the homeless community.
The Birth of Hippy Feet
Hippy Feet is a six and a half-year-old company that was born out of adversity. Michael suffered a traumatic brain injury during his senior year of college, forcing him to drop out and go into recovery for three months. During this challenging time, he realized the importance of having a support system and was inspired to create a business that could serve as a support system for young people affected by homelessness.
The Evolution of Hippy Feet’s Mission
Initially, Hippy Feet hired young people for job training programs, providing them with income and teaching them soft skills. However, Michael soon realized that while this approach was successful in providing income, it didn’t address the core social services needed to transition out of homelessness, such as housing and healthcare.Recognizing their limitations as a for-profit company, they decided to shift to a donation model. Now, they donate 50% of their profits to nonprofits addressing youth homelessness. Last year alone, they donated $66,000, which was more than they had previously paid in wages. This shift allowed them to focus on revenue-driving activities and improve the efficiency of their business.
Partnering with Nonprofits
Hippy Feet carefully selects nonprofit partners and strategic locations for their donations. They prioritize nonprofits that provide housing, healthcare, and employment services. While they have nonprofit partners in Minneapolis and St. Paul, they also strategically give to other states with high homeless youth populations, such as California and Illinois.
The B2B Program
Hippy Feet’s B2B program allows companies to customize socks with their logos or artwork. These companies support Hippy Feet’s mission and share their commitment with their clients and employees. Despite the availability of cheaper socks from China, they choose to buy from Hippy Feet because of their mission, the fact that their socks are made in the USA, and their use of sustainable materials like recycled cotton.
Sustainability at Hippy Feet
Sustainability is a core value at Hippy Feet. All their socks are made in the USA, partnering with family-owned businesses in North Carolina. They use recycled yarns, merino wool, soy-based fibers, and recycled cotton yarns in their products. Each pair of socks contains about 85% recycled materials.
The Future of Hippy Feet
Looking ahead, Michael sees growth potential for Hippy Feet in the retail, B2B, and e-commerce spaces. He’s excited about an upcoming collaboration with former Bachelorette Michelle Young. They have partnered to create a collection of socks designed by K-12 students, with the proceeds going towards supporting youth experiencing homelessness. The collaboration will be announced in the next few weeks and the socks will be available for sale in May, coinciding with National Teacher Appreciation Week.
My conversation with Michael was not just enlightening, but also inspiring. His commitment to helping the homeless community and his innovative approach to running a business are truly commendable. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Hippy Feet.