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A sock company that’s yielding a profit—and clean water

You can work for change and make a profit at the same time. Calvin grad Ryan Roff does both everyday at boldSOCKS, a sock company that partners with communities in need to supply clean water. His Calvin business classes are what first got his mind turning about how to do business differently.


  •   Author: Michal Rubingh and Sarah Johnson
  •   Published: October 2, 2019
  •   Categories: Alumni
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Your business classes at Calvin won’t just teach you how to run a successful business. They’ll challenge you to think about the ways your business affects real people—seen and unseen.

Calvin grad Ryan Roff took that challenge to heart when he started his sock company, boldSOCKS.

“At boldSOCKS, we believe in three things: exceptional designs, providing clean water through a social enterprise model, and partnering with the right manufacturer to provide an ethical model to manufacture our socks,” explained Ryan.

Developing a worldview

Ryan built boldSOCKS out of a desire to do more than just make a profit with his business.

“For me, the process of learning what it means to run an ethical, smart business began at Calvin. That’s where I had an opportunity to think about problem-solving in a different way,” Ryan reflected.

He realized that to run his company in an ethical way, he would have to think critically about his end goal.

“You think about all the ways that people maximize profits and growth. Typically, it’s not done in a way that puts the well-being of others first. I wanted to know how businesses could function differently,” Ryan remarked.

Clean water and fair labor

Ryan took the ethical vision that his Calvin education instilled in him and found two ways to apply it to his business.

The first involves clean water. BoldSOCKS partners with 20 Liters, an organization that works alongside leaders in vulnerable communities to provide long-lasting clean water solutions. Every pair of socks sold at boldSOCKS supplies 100 days of clean water.

The second is ethical manufacturing. Ryan was aware that many companies in the fashion industry rely on cheap labor to produce their goods, and Ryan didn’t want boldSOCKS to be one of them. 

“I found a vertically integrated manufacturer that was subsidizing food programs, providing scholarships for families so that they could get a better education, and providing upward mobility so employees grow with the company,” Ryan shared.

Ryan looked carefully at every step it took to produce a pair of socks because he wanted to ensure that his business wasn’t harming others. That comprehensive approach to business makes all the difference.

  •   Author: Michal Rubingh and Sarah Johnson
  •   Published: October 2, 2019
  •   Categories: Alumni

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